Fr. Josiah Trenham
2017 WEST Keynote Address - Have Courage
In the name of the father, and the son and the holy spirit. amen. Fr. Noah has entitled this talk "have Courage" This is the topic that he gave to me. In fact, courage, brothers and sisters, comes from deep conviction. Courage is a deep conviction that is combined with the inspiration of the holy spirit, and virtue. Without a deep conviction it's not possible to be courageous in a christian sense. And so what i'm hoping to do for you tonight is to help you have a deep conviction about the education of your children which will, combined with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and your embrace of your calling, produce in your life courage. Courage to home school, courage to endure, courage to believe. Just think of the Macabee children in the old Testament and their martyrdom. Just think of those incredible seven sons recorded in the second book of Macabees and their successive martyrdoms at the hand of that Greek pagan, power-hungry tyrant _______ (antiathis epiphanis?) who threatened them all and demanded that the worship the Gods, and they refused him one by one because they had a deep conviction of two things: They had a deep conviction that the Law of God forbade that kind of life and they had a deep conviction that the Resurrection was coming and that Resurrection would in fact prove divisive of the whole human race, that those who had done good would have a resurrection to eternal life, and those who had done wicked would have a resurrection to damnation. It was that conviction, coupled with their virtuous upbringing by their mother, Solomonia, and the guidance of their spiritual father, Eleazar, that produced such examples, some of the key examples of courage in the Old Testament. We need to have that same deep conviction about the task of parenting, the holiness of the task of parenting and of education.
I am really dumbfounded at this conference. Dumbfounded! I am so thrilled! In my 25 years as a priest I've never seen anything like this. A west coast conference, a conference on the east coast, a conference in the mid-west, a conference in the south... I was so thrilled by the website and by what's happening, Fr. Noah and all of you who are participating, that i sent off an email this week to two of my dear friends: one is an incredible man named Larry Jacobs. Larry is the managing director for the largest international symposium of pro-family activists, scholars, researchers, called the world congress of families. and the world congress of families has a yearly conference, somewhere in the world, and they have under the umbrella of their vision bringing together lobbyists, writers, thinkers, and priests, they have a section dedicated to homeschooling. I knew he would be absolutely thrilled to see what is happening here in North America amongst the Orthodox home schoolers. I also sent it to a dear friend of mine and his wife. His name is Alexei Como and his wife is Iryna. Alexei and Iryna are Russians and in fact Alexei works for one of the largest charitable institutions in Russia. Iryna happens to be the new director of the Department of Homeschooling for the Russian Church. The Russian Church in fact has just created a department of Homeschooling and this year after funding a kind of expose promo homeschooling conference, actually an international homeschooling conference that started in Rome, they are starting with a target group of 500 families in 80 Russian cities using a common curriculum and a common approach to homeschooling to see if they can inject this vision of intimate parental involvement in the education of their children. It is a fascinating time! Absolutely potent with potentiality! And that is what I feel about what is happening here. I'm just thrilled. The more that this happens, the more that this love spreads like fire amongst the Orthodox in America, I can only dream of the good that can take place. in our lives, because to embrace parenting and the education of our children is a path to sanctity, to repentance and sanctity. in the good of our children and their formation to be near God and nourished in Truth, to witness to our culture. you won't be surprised that Larry sent me back an email after i sent it to him, and he said, "The Orthodox! I won't be surprised if I convert!" I left that one unanswered. But that beautiful outpouring of that comment from his heart shows the beautiful witness that can take place.
St. Ambrose of Milan, that great 4th century church father, bilingual in Greek and Latin, who wrote in both Greek and Latin, the spiritual father of St. Augustine, whom Fr. Noah mentioned earlier. St. Ambrose said that the Church grows in two main ways. One way is through preaching the Gospel, the catechesis and baptism of the pagans, and today we might say secular, non-Christians of all sorts, and the second is by Christian families embracing the call to procreation and the education of their children. Having children and raising them in the discipline and fear of the Lord. and he said, of the two, the latter is the most successful. This was a man who believed in the power of the Gospel. Remember that St. Paul writes to the Romans that the Gospel is the power of God, to the salvation of all who believe. St. Ambrose had no doubt of the poser of the Gospel. He had seen it in St. Augustine's life. Augustine came to him as a pagan. Augustine listened to him because he was an incredible preacher and his words conveyed the power of God. And Augustine couldn't deny it, even though he was a manachean. He sat there listening to Ambrose and the word of God changed his life. Ambrose knew the power of preaching, but he said the long term effects of parents having children and loving them and raising them to love God over the course of their youth, is the way that the church is built up.
so of course when we see something like this conference happening, this is extremely hopeful for the church and don't we need it? Don't we need it?!
The chronicler in the old testament recounts for us two types of men that were extremely courageous. there were the sons of Isicar, of whom it is said that they "understood the times and knew what God's people should do". and then there were the men of Gad of whom it is said "they were men of valor, trained for war, whose faces were like the faces of lions." wow! their faces were like the faces of lions! brothers and sisters, this life is exceedingly dangerous. Your life is dangerous and there is nothing that you are going to do that is going to change that. You can be a coward in the face of the challenges that are before you, or you can become like the men of Isicar, you can become like the men of Gad, you can obtain the face of a lion. you can learn to face your fears and overcome them. When I was little, my father at night used to send me out to take the trash out in the dark. I can remember it like it was yesterday! I was so petrified. I was the only son in the family. My father was not going to take the trash out. If i didn't take it out in the dark, it wasn't going to be taken out. And i was more afraid of my father for not taking out the trash, than I was of the dark, so i did make it, but i was terrified. i had no idea what was there. and i remember over the years, that was always my duty, to take the trash out, usually in the dark and i remember over the years transitioning from a boy to a man and i went from being afraid of the dark to taking the trash out, and when i would go out the door i developed a habit which in fact i still have in my older age - of growling AT the dark. I went from being petrified of the dark to busting through the door of the house into the dark with a growl! rroarrr! and i still do it. i still do it. i wanted to make - as a young man coming my own - I wanted to make the dark afraid of me. I had already learned that there was nothing there. except maybe phantoms and maybe my dog. This movement to face our fears and not to be terrified by them, but to be confidant in the face of the challenges that the Lord puts before us. this is something that we all can accomplish. We can develop courage in our lives. And it's not going to help for us to pretend that life is something other than it is. Our life hangs by a thread. We are at all times on the edge of a cliff. The Islamic invasion of the west threatens us. North Korea threatens us with nuclear holocaust. the drug addiction epidemic is killing us. Diseases and the outbreak of unique cancers are exploding. The family is broken, completely collapsed... divorce, domestic violence, poverty, gender disphoria... all examples in our culture of what the scriptures would consider a resending, a retreat of Grace.
Think of St. Paul in Romans chapter 1 where he describes the culture that refused to worship God. It refused to bow down and render the things due to God, and what was the result? the result is that they fell into all sorts of unnatural sins. Three times in that text St. Paul says "as a result of their failure to give thanks, and as a result of their failure to acknowledge God and worship him, God gave them over. God gave them over. God gave them over to unnatural lusts. He honored their freedom in asking Him to leave their culture. and He did. and the result of that was their undoing. and we are witnessing this tragedy now. some of the things I've mentioned are just the tip of the ice burg, and we could go on. the compromise of traditional American freedoms, the very serious threats to freedom of religion and freedom of speech. the out of control of scientism that is dehumanizing us all quickly, the eclipse of civility, the radical political polarization combined with violent intolerance.. we could all write a litany of our society's collapse. If we're afraid, we need to cut it out. We need to stop. We need to face these things and recognize this is reality. this is where we are. this is the world that the Lord God has chosen for us, each one of us, to live in. in his wisdom, in his sovereign arrangement of all things. the trumpet have summoned us to this hour. and we are to become beacons of light. the bearers of peace, the communicators of love, so that men and women in these tragic times can find God through us. How will they find Him if we're gripped with fear? Fear is the diametric opposite of the Christian disposition of peace and trust. and don't think that there's anything too unique about our circumstances after all, as horrible as they appear to devout Christians. the Apocalypse of John, the last book of the new testament, presents to the church five major enemies, five major enemies that threaten the church from the first century until this day: the dragon, the beast, the false prophet, Babylon, that corrupt city, and those in league with Babylon and who bear the mark of the beast. these are our five enemies. they have different expressions in every culture and at every time, but they will remain our enemies until the dragon is slain, the beast and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire, Babylon burns to the ground as it does in chapter seventeen and eighteen, and those in league with Babylon in persecuting the church and promoting wickedness, and refusing to repent mourn her collapse and in fear and utter terror beg the rocks and mountains to fall upon them and hide themselves from the wrath of the Lamb. This is our lot. this is our time from the first advent until the second. Babylon will fall. and our sweet savior, the word of God will ride his white horse and bear his two edged sword unto victory and life until the heavens and earth are renewed and the kingdom of God is here in fullness and the unceasing happiness of the marriage feast of the lamb is all that is left. this is what is coming. this is what should form your deep conviction about the world. it's falling. it has been falling. and it will be redeemed.. and the people of God redeemed with it. we must have courage to embrace this vision and apply it to our task of Orthodox christian education. we have to heed st. paul when he says do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. there's two parts of that command. first we must reject the ways of the world, and second we must - in not being conformed - we must conform ourselves to a beautiful reality. to the Christian reality, to the transfigured, renewed reality of christian parenting and christian education. worldly education is any subject pursued without reference to God. let me reference that. worldly education is any subject pursued without reference to God. any training that has no reference to virtue. any dehumanizing technique or practice. we are called to be in the world, and not only in the world, but we're called to be going into the world. those prepositions both are used by Jesus in John 17. we're to be in the world and into the world, but not of the world. how is that done specifically in the field of education? how are we to study and teach in the world, but not be of the world? i want to present now a partial answer to help you deepen your conviction, to have a clear christian vision of what is your call as parents and as teachers of your children now in this world. I want to present a partial answer from the lives of the greatest of the church fathers, the three holy hierarchs: St. Basil the great, St. Gregory the theologian, and St. John Chrysostom; and i want to add a little addition from St. Basil's brother: St. Gregory of Nyssa. If you have the mind of these men, you have the mind of the church. That's why they're called Universal or Ecumenical teachers. they're the ones we rely on the most. all these mighty men of the church, these men of valor who understood the times and knew what Christians should do. all of them were home schooled. and all of them were also educated by non-Christians, by pagans. and they have presented for us the Orthodox christian paradigm of education that we should follow. a patristic paradigm for education.
let me start with st. basil the great: St. Basil the great, in his old age, he wrote a small treatis on education to his nephews. they were attending pagan schools and he thought that the hour had come for him to tell them how they should do that. this little treatise is entitled: how the young might derive profit from pagan literature. and throughout this treatise, st.basil exhaults, above everything else, the extreme value of holy scripture over every form of pagan literature. he emphasizes that scripture is the very core of christian education. our education fails if we do not study scripture our entire life. he doesn't say it fails if we don't study scripture in homeschooling. he expects it to be a simple matter of christian living. because the Church, while being more than a school, is never less than a school. we have one teacher, one master, and we are all disciples. 'amathetis' the simple word in the new testament used for a follower of Jesus means primarily 'pupil'. we are Jesus' pupils, even when we're teaching our kids, we're all being instructed. through this whole life we should study scripture as seriously, in fact more seriously than any other subject we study.
In describing how to read broadly, and to follow a non-christian curriculum in higher learning, St.Basil teaches in this treatise, the value of keen selection. keen selection in literature among all sorts of works. he says we must look for the honey and avoid the poison, avoiding completely those things that damage the soul. but he says there's many excellent examples that can be found amongst Homer, Hesse, Thrones, Solin, Euripides, Plato, and others. these are his words. He says: "the fruit of the soul is preeminently truth. yet to clothe it with external wisdom is not without merit" providing a kind of covering for the fruit."
He also wrote another small treatise called an admonition to his spiritual son. this work is considered very valuable also concerning his mind on education and in this treatise he leans heavily on the teaching of the proverbs and says that that book should be central to the instruction of our children. It's a book of wisdom for us, educating us about what a sage really looks like. giving content to the wise man. st. basil gives very practical instruction about how to interact with worldly education when you reach that age that you must swim in it. these days that often means, when our kids go to college. when they move from deeply christian influence to less than christian influence, or sometimes radically pagan influence. he says this: i say to you, you who each day resort to teachers and hold converse with the famous men of the ancients through the words which they have left behind them, that you should not surrender to these men once and for all the rudders of your mind as if of a ship, and do not follow them wherever they lead. rather, accepting from them only that which is useful you should know that which ought to be over-looked. what these things are and how we shall distinguish between them is the lesson which i shall teach you from this point on." here st. basil emphasizes the great necessity of discrimination, of viacrecis, of selection, discernment in study. One of the ways we know our children can move into pagan learning is that they have developed the quality of discernment. you know they have a sieve. and that they've custody of their mind and they're not going to give the reigns of that mind to any teacher at a pagan place or secular place of learning. some kids may be able to have that early, some late, some maybe never. My fifth son is at UC Berkeley right now. I would never have allowed any of my first four children to go to UC Berkeley, if i had a choice. i would never have encouraged it. Him, I never had a single doubt. he had possession of his mind since he was five years old. I feel sorry for the pagans of Berkeley who bump into him.. i really do.
\par Next St. Basil calls his nephews, and through them all successive generations of christian students to study with an eye, one on the text and one on the kingdom of God. we study as an expression of seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. i would call this escatological education. it's one of the greatest differences between how a christian studies and how a secularist studies. this is why we Christians just do not go with the obsession with business majors in the university. do you know that in our nation 55% of all majors are business and finance. I taught my children to mock that. to laugh at that. I told them that has nothing to do with education. it's a trade school work. it might be a work that many of our kids are called to, but it is not education. Christians have never gone for the idea that education is all about this life which is what the business major is all about. Listen to St. Basil himself. He says these words: "we in no wise conceive this human life of ours to be an object of value in any respect" ha! "we in no wise conceive this human life of ours to be an object of value in any respect, nor do we consider anything good at all or so designated which makes it's contribution to this life of ours only." of course that just eradicates the whole obsession of our culture with science. And i don't mean to denigrate science. what I’d like to do is put science in it's proper place. And she is not the queen. Since she can only refer to this life. and St. Basil says we don't even consider anything good, or dare call it good, that only makes a contribution to this life. neither renown of ancestry, nor strength of body, nor beauty, nor stature, nor honors bestowed by all mankind, nor rule, nor any other human attribute that one might mention. do we judge great, nay, we do not even consider them worth praying for, nor do we look with admiration upon those who possess them, but our hopes lead us forward to a more distant time and everything we do is by way of preparation for the other life. that's how we must study. whatever contributes to that life, we must say is to be loved and pursued with all our strength, but what does not conduce to that must be passed over as of no account." He encourages his nephews to read poetry that recount deeds of good men, that use good words. he says "familiarity with evil words is a road to evil deeds. We have to avoid evil words by all accounts. judging words to be powerful and creative of passion or virtue." We ought not praise the poets, he says, when they quote divine happiness in the wrong way. Isn't that a plague today? He says we should avoid prose that is profane and shallow, and especially despise lying in great speakers and especially deceit in the system of law and litigation. ha! what would he say to us in our American legal system? We are literally dripping in deceit, every aspect of our culture. and st. basil says we should despise it. It will infect us if we don't. just think of how many companies (every company) that you call and you get this message. Your call is very important to us. Please hold on the line and we will be with you immediately. and then 30 minutes later someone picks up the phone. really? if my call was so important, you would pay the salaries of additional staff to answer the telephone when i call. what you really should say is our profits are extremely important to us, and therefore we are going to make you wait 30 minutes to talk to a single representative even though you bought our product. that would be an honest comment. It's never said because our businesses are built in their public persona on lies and deceit and we ought not follow it.
St. basil sets forth his famous - in this context - his famous analogy of the bees. we ought not to be like flies who love to hover over feces, but rather we should be like the bees who don't approach all flowers equally, but approach flowers of nectar value, and take what they want from this one, and then they fly to the next. like working with the trimming of roses we should watch out for the thornes, and while pursuing the beautiful, we must guard ourselves from what is harmful
Thirdly, we ought especially to apply ourselves to what is said by poets, historians, and philosophers, about virtue, because virtue is the purpose if the purpose of education. The true value of life is virtue and it's acquisition, since it alone is not stolen by death. we must be those who don't just study virtue, but bring it forth into our lives and into our professions. note that St. Basil does not believe the goal of education to be to obtain a career, to make money, to buy a house, to be smart, to get a job, none of it. the goal is to become virtuous, in fact, to be like Jesus.
\par and lastly in this beautiful treatise, St. Basil moves from literature to musical education and art. art and music are neglected in America today to our detriment. the power of music and art over the soul of man is immense. St. Basil calls the young men calls the young men of his time to completely abandon what he calls association with base music that is designed to inflame the passions. he tells a beautiful story of Alexander the great sitting with his court musician, Timotheos, and Timotheos was at a very nice banquet and performed an experiment about the poser of music, by playing a marshal ballad. and in the middle of it Alexander lept up from the table, grabbed his weapons, and ran to the door, and as he did it, Timotheos stopped. And Alexander regained his composure, recognized what he had just learned, and returned to the table with a new appreciation for the power of music. Just think of our own scripture stories. We don't have to refer to Alexander the Great. Just think of the power of David's harp over the horrible mental state of king Saul. He was tormented by demons, but even the power of the demons went flat when David played his melodious harp. Music, brothers and sisters, must be a part of our education of our children, and we must respect its power to create saints, or to create devils. Especially think of the power of the Divine Liturgy and a beautifully sung Divine Liturgy and what it does for us. I always think in this way on two of the founders of my parish, God rest their souls, incredible couple, Nick and Vera Kislack, memory eternal. They died in their eighties, and they were in alot of pain in their last years. and they used to drive to the Liturgy, and vera told me - I can't tell you how many times - she says, "father, my body hurts so bad, it was everything i could do to get out of bed and in the car, and nick and i would drive, and she said, the moment I walked through the doors of the Church and I participated in the Liturgy, I felt nothing. everything left. she was transported and comforted and cured by the sacred music of the church.
\par St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Basil's brother, he wrote a magnificent treatise, amongst others, entitled "on the life of Moses" perhaps some of you have read it. He wrote this at the end of his life, in the 390s. He calls himself in the introduction, an old man. and in this magnificent treatise Gregory uses the life of the holy prophet and god-seer Moses as an example of the acquisition of virtue, of growth in goodness, of spiritual life. In book two he addresses the proper relationship of a christian to a pagan education. These are his words, "The barren daughter of Pharaoh is philosophy. When we attain maturity, we don't want to be called her children. for truly barren is profane education, which is always in labor but never gives birth." It can't rejuvenate the soul! "If we should be involved with profane teachings during our education, we should not separate ourselves from the nourishment of the church's milk." Here the image is us nursing on the breast of the Church, and he says, "that position must be the position we retain while fulfilling our education at the hands of non-Christians." which would be her - the Church's - laws and customs. by these the soul is nourished and matured. thus being given the means of ascending the heights. The fight between the Egyptian and the Hebrew he interprets as the fight between profane doctrine and true doctrine. The foreign wife of Moses, Hebora, represents that there are certain positive benefits that are derived from profane education as long as this union introduces nothing of a foreign defilement. and then Gregory turns his attention to explaining the meaning of the Isrealites plundering the wealth of the Egyptians. These are his words: Those who follow the leader to virtue must, I think, not lack the wealth of Egypt, or be deprived of the treasures of the foreigners, but having acquired all the property of their enemies, they must have it for their own use. Moses commands those participating through virtue in the free life to equip themselves with the wealth of pagan learning by which foreigners to the faith beautify themselves. Such things as moral and natural philosophy, geometry, astronomy, dialectic, and whatever else is sought by those outside the church, since these things will be useful. those who treasured up for themselves such wealth handed it over to Moses as he was working on the tent of the tabernacle, the tent of mystery. each one making his own personal contribution to the construction of holy places. remember that the wealth that the Isrealites got from their neighbors when Moses told them to ask the Egyptians to give them their gold and silver, they brought that wealth and what did they do? they contributed from it for the creation of the portable temple, the tabernacle, that God commanded Moses to build. It is possible to see this happening even now. For many bring to the church of God their profane learning as a gift to the king. such a man was the great basil. Here he is referring to his own brother who had died. He loved him so much, together with his sister Makrina. Basil had died in 379, so this is like 15 years after the fact. And he's such a man he says was the great basil who acquired the Egyptian wealth in every respect during his youth and dedicated this wealth to God for the adornment of the Church. So from St. Gregory of Nyssa we derive these principles: Our goal - in fact, he doesn't say this is possible, he says its moses command to steal the foreigners treasures - our goal is not exclusively Christian education, but as a christian to use all helpful pagan - today we would say secular - education in the service of Christ. we are to plunder the secularists. to seize the wealth of the Marxists who run our universities, and bring this wealth of education and training to the service of Christ and the church in order to build holy places. each one is to make his own personal contribution to God from his own learning. we are to execute this dangerous but necessary work while remaining close to the church, drinking her milk and following her laws and customs. we are always ecclesial in our education, even if we're studying at places like Stanford or Berkeley or Harvard of someplace like this. we have to study in the midst of prayer, worship, fellowship, service, and almsgiving. we study as an expression of personal piety for we're striving to make our own personal contributions to the work of Jesus here and now.
St. Gregory the Theologian:
His mother, St. Nonna, was like St.Emmelia, St. Basil's mother, and like St. Anthusa, St. John Chrysostom's mother, extremely zealous, as are the mothers here, for the purity and holiness of their sons. and they were deeply worried, Nonna particularly, about the world's influence upon Gregory, lest he lose his holiness and closeness to God, and become defiled. This is how homeschooling works with pagan learning. Those who are most invested in their children's education - their mothers - must keep a strong hold of their sons and daughters. St.Gregory the Theologian relates in his own writings that his mother, St. Nonna, was so zealous for the protection of her children from the world and from pagan education, that she would adamantly refuse to allow even the mention of a Hellenistic myth or of a pagan practice in her house. Out! Out! She wouldn't permit it! She would stop their mouths! She wouldn't let them be even mentioned! That's in his 18th oration. Nonna made sure that while Gregory was advancing to the centers of pagan hellenistic learning he was also under the constant care and tutelage of some the greatest Christians of his time. He progressively went from econium to cescerea, later to cescerea maritima which was the closest thing to a christian university town of the 4th century. this is where St. Gregory the wonder worker, a spiritual father to many of the influential Cappadocians, had studied and lived. then he went to Alexandria and then to Athens. can you imagine? all those places to do higher learning at the hands of pagans. she made sure that every single place that he went had a serious liturgy, led by very competent priests and christian scholars, and she put him in contact with them. to watch him and to help him. in fact it was on his way to Athens that he was absolutely tramatized by a 20 day storm at sea as they were rounding the island of rodos. he says he spent most of his time during that 20 day terror prostrate in fear for his life on the ship, crying out to God in prayer, and evidently, occasionally to his mother. St. Nonna stayed in such close contact with her son, physically and spiritually, and showed such care that a young servant boy traveling on the ship going through the same trama of tempest that gregory went through told gregory later that during the storm he saw his mother nonna, whom that servant knew, walking on the water to the ship, grab it with her hands and drag it single-handedly to the shore to answer her son's urgent need. Now that is a homeschooling mom! This is the role of mothers. and that came from the most gifted, the most profound of the church fathers. His mom kept him moored.
St. John Chyrsostom:
No church father has made a greater contribution to christian education that St. John Chrysostom. chrysostom says this: the downfall of civilization stems from disregard of children. our civilization is falling downward. if someone was to ask us what is the primary cause of this, we should answer it in the same way. the disregard of our children. many seek the preservation of their estates, he writes, but not the preservation of the souls in their care. and this in itself is criminal, and in his words, "tantamount to child murder" the proper education of children was something that he gave much attention to. he himself, like the other holy fathers i've mentioned, benefitted greatly from classical greek edusation. en cleclios paidea. but he made a frontal assault upon the educational norms of his society. he argued for what he called a paidea en christo. taking the pauline image of what the christian life is - life in christ - and saying that is what education should be. paidea en christo. education in christ. the educational goal is no longer to be that established by the hellenistic rhetoric, but by the christian formation of the child as a spiritual athelete. that is the goal. it is difficult for us to underestimate how radical chrysostom was being in attacking greek education. this form of education had not only been established for centuries, but there was virtually no viable christian alternative in the late 4th century. what chrysostom was promoting was both radical and novel. it could be compared in think, in gravity, to a whole-hearted rejection of state education in the post-christian west. the system under criticism was immensely dominant and chief among the criticisms that chrysostom made of traditional greek education - of the normal education of the state - the way it was - was the great fear or what he calls moral danger that it placed christian youth in. and the great fear at that time - the great abuse - was pedophilia. he said it was simply rampant. young men would be the students of older men, and they would be abused, sexually used, does it sound familiar? it should. chrysostom lamented that so many parents knew how their children were being morally polluted and but they tolerated it as the status quo. for the sake of the education. these are his words: but the parents of the children who are being violated bear it in silence" i can't help but say this is exactly what's happening with the majority of our Orthodox Christian youth who are in the state system. their parents know its not good, they know their souls are being damaged, because they're being taught everything without reference to God, they're having immorality presented to them as normal, they're being taught that if they have questions or concerns about these immoral, unnatural practices, they are bigets or racists. and we are tolerating it in silence way too often. this is what Chrysostom says: he says the parents of the children who are being violated bear it in silence. they do not bury themselves in the earth along with their children, nor do they think of some remedy for that evil (this is what he says they should do: they should dig a hole and get in it, hide themselves from the sight of this filth or at least if they don't do that, find a remedy. confront it and cure it.) if it were necessary to take the children to a foreign land, to save them from an illness or a sickness, or to the sea, or to the islands, or to an inaccessible land, or to the world beyond us, should we not do and suffer all these things so as not all allow these defilements." he's saying look, these same parents would do anything to cure their children physical maladies, but now when such a great plague has spread everywhere not only do we ourselves drag them down into the depths, but we drive away those who wish to set them free, as if they were corrupters, what rage! and then here's a classic chrysostom line used many times: what thunderbolts do these crimes deserve?! yes, indeed! he says that the best context for christian education is the pedagogy of monastics. the best context for christian education is the pedagogy of monastics, but since this is not always possible, and its certainly not possible in our milieu, the parents must make sure that the children have as monastic and spiritual education as possible. it's incumbent on parents to exert the greatest concern their children's education. he lamented that so many parents directed their efforts to ensure their children becoming rich instead of wise. typically parents took great pain to give their children training in arts, literature, and speech, but paid no heed to their acquisition of virtue. just as some conscientious show immense care to ensure that their children are progressing in secular learning, so they should show the same care to ensure that their children are making progress in the school of the church and in christian development. though christian education was a theme that st.john visited in many contexts, and at many times, when he was a priest in antioch, about the year 388, this was ten years before he was captured and taken to constantinople to become patriarch, at that time in 388 he delivered a very famous homily on vain glory and the proper upbringing of children by their parents. and this treatise was dedicated to providing a paradigm for the christian education of children. it's the most dense portion of his corpus given to christian education. this is what he says: this is kind of a summary of his points. he says, first at the pedagogical task is the responsibility of parents. they are the one ultimately accountable for the education of their children, and if they are to enlist the assistance of tutors and pedagogs, they must take thorough care that these are positive influences and helpful in the goal of acquiring virtue. we have to be very selective in who are going to be the tutors of our children. he continues and says that parents should regard themselves as artists, like painters or sculptors, they have to fashion their children. as painters place their canvas on the easel and add to it day by day, so parents must inspect their children each day giving them leisure time for the improvement of the artwork, adding what is lacking, removing what is superfluous. little by little, here and there. life long project. christian education must begin from the earliest age for the lessons learned in early youth remain with the child for good or ill. parents must make good use of the beginning of their children's lives. when children are young, he says they're like warm wax. and the impress that they receive will soon harden and remain. as young plants, they need the greatest amount of care. as do young children, and to this end, parents should give an incentive to goodness to their children from the very start by giving them solid christian names. it's not proper he says to name our children after our fore-bearers, no righteous man in the scriptures did this, he says, rather we're to name our children after the righteous, the martyrs, bishops, and apostles, so that every time they hear their name they will be encouraged to emulate their saints.