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May 30, 2015

Saint Emmelia as a Model for our Lives

St. Emmelia (Feast Day - May 30)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

From the fruit of a tree you can know its root. If the fruit is healthy and sweet, it means the root of the tree is healthy. So it is with children, namely, by the way they live and behave you can have an understanding of the parents. Of course, there are exceptions, but what is certain is that the example of parents plays a vital role in the progress and development of a child's life.

Saint Emmelia was a good and virtuous root that bore sweet fruit, her children, who emerged to become prominent members of society and, even more so, Saints of the Church, such as Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebastia, Macrina, Naukratios, etc. From a holy root came sanctified shoots, that is, from holy parents came blessed and holy children. Of course, the root was very deep. It passed from the father and mother and reached the revered grandfathers and grandmothers.

Saint Emmelia experienced in her life, as usually happens with the elect, many sorrows. The death of her parents before she married, the death of her husband as soon as her son Peter was born, and the premature death of her son Naukratios, along with the raising on her own of her children from a certain point, were some of these things. But she faced these things with exemplary faith, courage and patience. She taught her children primarily through her example. She gave them, along with her physical milk, the pure milk of faith. She breastfed them, along with her physical breast, from the living breast of the Church, and for this reason they prospered and progressed in their lives.

She completed her life as a nun with her daughter Saint Macrina as the abbess.

Saint Emmelia, with her life and conduct, gives us the opportunity to highlight the following:

First, a key role in the upbringing and development of children is played by the quality of the life of the parents. From praying parents come children who love prayer and by this they become lovers of God and lovers of people. Because whoever loves God and keeps His commandments, they also will love their fellow people and will minister to them selflessly. The atmosphere created at home by the parents that have love between them, as well as for others, has a beneficial effect on a child's development and the molding of their character. "Development of the children begins with the parents. When the child is conceived, if the parents are calm or angry, if they blaspheme or if they pray, all these things the fetus perceives and is affected by them. The fetus hears and feels within the mother's womb. Yes, it hears and sees through the eyes of the mother. It understands the movements and feelings, although their mind is not developed. If the face of the mother becomes darkened, the child also will become darkened. If the mother gets angry, the child will also. When the mother feels sadness, pain, fear, stress, etc, the child also will experience them. If the mother does not want the fetus, if she doesn't love it, then it will feel it and create wounds in its little soul that will accompany the child throughout their life. Conversely, when the mother has joy, peace and love for the fetus, it secretly transmits it to the child, as it happens when they are born. This is why a mother must spend a lot of time in prayer, to love the fetus, to read the hymns and psalms, to live a holy life, so that the child also will be holy" (St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva).

Second, the development of children after their birth must be done primarily by example and less by words and admonitions. We must speak more to God about our children, then to our children about God. We must teach them to have trust in His Providence and seek His help, especially during the difficult moments of their lives. It is important to tell them the truth no matter how bitter it is at times. We must praise them when necessary, but also to discipline them when necessary, because continuous praise does not benefit. "The praise of children hurts them. Often little children are continuously praised. By this, however, the child learns to not properly react when confronted with the smallest difficulty. Once someone opposes them, they become hurt, they have no courage." With continuous praises "they become unruly, hard and unsympathetic ... when you praise them continuously, without being discerning, then they are bothered by the opposite. The mill of their ego reacts ... and so they are raised to be egotistical, and their first job will be to deny God and be a selfish misfit of society" (St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyva). Of course, children are not all the same, they do not all have the same temperament and the same character, and for this reason, as Saint Gregory the Theologian stresses, to some praise is beneficial and to others it is not, sometimes it takes both. Certainly care is needed, together with discernment and the fear of God, because the education of children is a serious matter.

Mothers, imitate Saint Emmelia and breastfeed your children with the living breast of the Church, that they may forever be grateful to you.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Μητέρων ὑπόδειγμα καὶ σέμνωμα: Ὁσία Ἐμμέλεια", May 2003. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.