Some ideas for families during Paschaltide

posted Apr 17, 2010, 10:46 AM by fr.irenei@stjohnsacademysf.org

Dear parents and families of St. John’s,

Christ is risen! It is a particular joy to be able to greet you with this Paschal proclamation—the reality at the heart of our faith and life as Orthodox Christians. ‘Christ is risen’, St. John Chrysostom wrote, ‘and life reigns!’ May this fact bring us all a new brightness, a new joy, and a new zeal to grow in the depths of this life!

Your children continue to bring profound joy to me, and to all our staff at the Academy. There is nothing quite so moving as a chorus of children singing the Paschal troparion together, vying for who can be the most exuberant (at times taking the Scriptural proclamation to ‘Shout your praises before the Lord’ quite literally!); nor as joyful as seeing a small kindergarten student run across the school hall, hands already cupped to receive a blessing, shouting during the run: ‘Christ is risen!’ To know joy in the Orthodox life is a high calling of our aim as Christian educators and families—for Christ has brought a joy that overcomes the world—and it is an overwhelming encouragement to see this joy grow and strengthen in our school during this season.

This season of Pascha is a fitting time to turn our attention towards new ideas for our spiritual, home, family and community life—taking the spirit of the Feast into every aspect of our lives and activities in God’s creation. With this in mind, I thought I might share a few ideas on activities families might consider in this festal period.

A few ideas for family activities during Paschaltide:

  • Consider a few minutes during the week to explore some seasonal spiritual reading. The Paschal Canon is the central text of the season, with its eight short odes sung continually, proclaiming the joyful news of the resurrection. If your children are old enough, might you consider reading through the canon, one ode at a time, perhaps in the evening or before bedtime? The messages of each ode are wonderful—the joy of creation, the devotion of the Mother of God, learning to love even those who hate us—and pertinent to our children’s lives; and the odes are short: the perfect length to be ‘digested’ by children of many ages. If you need a copy of the Paschal Canon in English, please simply let me know and I will provide you with one.
  • Some outdoor activities that take advantage of the nice spring-time weather can easily become ‘educational’: Spend an afternoon enjoying Golden Gate Park as a family—and bring along a garbage bag. For a few minutes of your outing, do a small ‘litter collection’ in your section of the park. It is an ideal moment to talk with young children about the need to care for the world God has fashioned for us, and to become responsible for creation—‘even the messes we didn’t make ourselves’.
  • If your children are a little older, consider encouraging some creative activity in caring for others. The coming of spring is joyful for those who are able to get out and enjoy it; but for the home- or hospital-bound can be disheartening. Could your children visit a home-bound parishioner (most parish priests will be more than able to provide you with the names of people who would welcome a visit), even for just a short 15-minute hello? Or visit someone in hospital? Please contact me if you would like some ideas, or some practical contacts.
  • Talk about music with your children! Listening to music—on CDs, iPods, MP3 players, etc.—is very popular amongst our youth; and children are aware that sometimes their tastes in music, and that of their parents, differs (to say the least!). Perhaps this season provides a chance to listen to some music with your children: their music. Ask them to tell you about it: what makes them enjoy it? Does it have a message? Is the message positive? Do they feel these questions even matter when picking music to listen to? It can be an eye-opening experience to have such discussions—and one that brings children and parents a little closer together.

These are but a few ideas—I’m sure the creativity of our families will lead to many others. Only let us not miss the opportunity provided by the energy and enthusiasm of the Paschal season, to take up our Orthodox life in new ways and encourage our children to make it more fully their own.

With fondness in the risen Christ,

Hieromonk Irenei

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