Patriarch Daniel: Parents and Children Sunday, an occasion to pay homage to and support the Christian family

His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel sent a message occasioned by the Sunday of Parents and Children (June 6, 2021). He emphasized the need to reaffirm the crucial role of the family in raising and educating children for life and the need to support large and disadvantaged families.

The Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church resolved in 2009 to dedicate the first Sunday in June to parents and children in the Romanian Patriarchate.

Sunday of Parents and Children – an occasion to pay homage to and support the Christian family

Christ is risen!

Approved by resolution no. 629/March 12, 2009, of the Holy Synod of our Church, the Sunday of Parents and Children, the first Sunday after June 1 – International Children’s Day, is an opportunity to reaffirm the family’s primary role in raising and educating children for life.

Family is the crown of God’s creation and the environment blessed by Him in which the human child begins to understand the mystery of God’s paternal love for all people. 

The Saviour Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, blessed the family at the Wedding at Cana of Galilee, making “the first of His signs” (John 2: 2-11); He helped suffering parents (Mark 5: 22-43; Luke 7: 11-17); He blessed the children (Luke 18:16) and revealed to humans the love of the heavenly Father for the whole world (John 3:16).

Family is the “domestic church,” as it was called by Saint John Chrysostom, in which conjugal, parental, filial and fraternal love is cultivated. With the help of the parents, the child begins to feel God’s love for him and cultivate love for those around him. 

The love of children towards their parents is shown especially in the communication with them. 

Jesus Christ was a child, growing in obedience to God the Father in heaven, His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Righteous Joseph, His protector. The Holy Gospel says that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

The children’s character is formed mainly by the love of the parents towards them and by the way their parents live. That is why parents are called to experience true faith, to cultivate love in the family, freedom and dignity of the human person, created in the image of God. 

In this sense, Saint John Chrysostom said: “So let him be taught to think nothing of wealth or worldly reputation or power or death or the present life on Earth. So will he be sagacious.” (On vainglory and how to bring up children)

Children born into families and baptized by the Church in the name of the Most Holy Trinity can become citizens of the eternal heavenly Kingdom if in their earthly life they cultivate the spiritual gifts received at Holy Baptism, as shown in the families who gave several saints to the Church.

In recent decades, in the context of many challenges to the Christian family, the Church has intensified its activities to fortify it. 

In the Romanian Patriarchate, several years were dedicated to family and education. For example, 2011 – Solemn Year of Holy Baptism and Holy Marriage; 2016 – Solemn Year of the religious education of the Orthodox Christian youth; 2020 – Solemn Year of the pastoral care of parents and children. 

The year 2021 is mainly dedicated to the pastoral care of Romanians from outside Romania, parents and children often among foreigners. 

In this context, between December 21, 2020 – August 22, 2021, in the Romanian Patriarchate takes place the National Catechetical Contest “Church: the family of Romanians everywhere,” which addresses children from parish catechetical groups in the country and the diaspora enrolled in the National Catechetical Program “Christ shared with children.” 

The contest aims to create spiritual connections between the catechetical groups in the country and those in the Romanian diaspora. The participating catechesis groups carried out and implemented mini-projects with a cultural and philanthropic character, addressing mainly the family.

The current pandemic has directly affected families in the country and the diaspora, and the education of children. 

Recent studies highlight the usefulness and limitations of online education: stress, mental fatigue, depressive manifestations, loss of motivation, thinking problems, concentration and decision-making problems. 

A thorough education for life includes direct experiences, lived within a concrete community, starting from the family and continuing in school, in the life of the Church and society.

In the context of the increasing secularization of today’s society, it is necessary to reaffirm the family’s central role in raising and educating children for life and the need for spiritual and material support for disadvantaged families and families with many children. 

At the same time, to respond to the deep spiritual needs of the generations of children and young people in today’s society, the cooperation between the Church, Family and School is essential to cultivate the specific vocations of children and young people.

We send a fatherly message of appreciation to Romanian parents and children everywhere and the appeal to preserve and cultivate the Orthodox Christian faith, together with the values of Romanian spirituality in the family, Church and society, for the joy of all children and parents!

With chosen appreciation and blessing,

† Daniel

Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church

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