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2014-09-14 message

posted Sep 20, 2014, 3:41 PM by St. John's Webmaster   [ updated Sep 20, 2014, 3:41 PM ]
I was asked a few weeks ago whether we could have services honoring St. Sophia and her daughters – Faith, Hope, and Love, whose feast is on September 17. The children are martyr saints, which is quite sobering when we realize that, at the time of their martyrdom, Faith was twelve, Hope was ten, and Love was nine. If that were not enough, the children were tortured and martyred by order of emperor Hadrian in front of their mother. St. Sophia was then given the bodies of her children to bury, which she did with reverence. The story of these saints gives us at least two points on which to ponder. 

The first is the example of the children. They remained steadfast in their faith despite their young ages and the tortures they suffered. Their strength came from Christ; they were strengthened by the One Whom they were raised to love and honor before anyone and anything else. Their faith asks of us: do we strive to love and honor God as they did? Do we strive to raise our children to love and honor God as these young martyrs did? 

The second is the example of the mother, who taught her children to seek first the kingdom of heaven and encouraged them to remain strong in their faith during their tortures. As parents, we all want what is best for our children. We strive to provide for them, to make sure they have a good education, a good job. With all that, do we make sure to teach them to seek first the kingdom of heaven? The choice that Faith, Hope, and Love had to make was the ultimate one. But there are many choices that our children have to make that have a bearing on their spiritual life. If there is a choice between going to a great college where the nearest Orthodox church is an hour away and a good one where the church is ten minutes away, do we tell them that it is okay to sacrifice academic prestige for the ability to stay close to and remain active in church? If they have a choice between a well-paying job that leaves them with no spare time and one that pays less but gives them time for church, do they know that we think the latter is a better choice for their souls? 

May these great saints of our Church intercede for us and guide us, that we may join them in the kingdom of heaven. 

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter