May 11, 2008
Today, as we well know is Mothers Day. I would like to further describe it as Holy Day, because, as God created, so do mothers. True Mothers express God's love! They not only give birth to their children, but with any measure, they literally sacrifice themselves for their children. We read the biographies of famous world personalities, and learn from so many of them, that they give most of the credit for their success to their Mothers.
I like what Abraham Lincoln immortalized about his Mother, when he said: "All that I am, or even hope to be, I owe to my darling mother." The resource material regarding Mothers, who nurtured world famous personalities, may be endless, but how can we properly estimate the many millions of Mothers, who can take full credit for inculcating the loftiest ideals to their children.
We thank God for signaling this special day to honor Mothers. It is a most fitting tribute, and no less the feeling of gratitude we sense for them, who so often are synonymous with the word "sacrifice."
Although the honoring of Mothers is celebrated in different ways, and times all over the world, it surely was not absent from the Ancient Greek and Roman times. In our Country, this Day was imitated from England, by a social activist Julia Ward Howe, after the Civil War in 1865.
Julia Howe called all women then to unite against war; although her efforts were in vain. But, after Julia Howe a young homemaker, Ann Jarvis, initiated a crusade to establish a Day of commemoration for all women.
Unfortunately, it is beyond sadness, that even the Holiest Religious Days, have been decimated I would say, by rampant commercialization. But, for this rash commercialization we are paying a very high price, in that, the noblest ideals and virtues have been compromised. The noble and lofty ideals seem to be sinking in oblivion. Everything today seems to have as its target, what's in it for me, and how much can I make, disregarding the ways and means.
A couple of days ago, I once again was shocked, seeing on the morning news an oversized billboard of a famous law firm in Chicago advertising the following phrase with the inscription: "Get a divorce; life's too short." and thought to myself, " How low can situations get, which have such a disastrous effect on our Country!" I was appalled and thought to myself, how better the world was, when it was forbidden for lawyers to advertise. Fortunately, thousands of people jammed the wire services expressing their shock and dismay. As a result, the ad was short-lived, because it was removed hours after it was posted.
Then, a few days ago I heard that the superintendent of schools declared Good Friday as just another school day and Monday after Easter classes resume. Thus, another shock for Christians, and business goes on as usual for those, who have succeeded to minimize and even decimate what are sacred; and the most glorious Days for believers.
Our Nation was founded on Christian foundations, but this is not very recognizable in our day, after suffering a couple of generations of attacks from the liberals on the principles, which made our Country great. It appears that the vocal minority has subjugated the silent majority. For some of us that are old enough to make comparisons, there is no question, that there has been a diametrical change.
It's unfortunate that the family unit has broken down, which brings to mind the Biblical phrase: "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it." We've created so many needs, many of which are unnecessary, but as families and the openness in today's society we almost have no choice. The Mother of yesteryear; had a most influential part in the rearing of her family. Today, because of the many and varied demands, when the mothers were shouldered with careers, this has totally changed the picture at home, when everybody now is so busy, that they have to practically make an appointment to see one another.
It seems we're all in a flowing stream with the current being very swift. The salmon, as we know, swim upstream against the current. This is something, serious people must consider, especially when everyone you speak with, is so unhappy with the way conditions have so degenerated. Somehow, we have to imitate the action of the salmon, and go against the current!
The home is ultra important to transmit the true values to our children from their earliest years of reason. The children should learn not to live by comparisons. They must learn to be grateful, that they have caring parents, who strive for the best for their children,, and by this, we mean the inculcating of the intangibles; --- the eternal values and virtues, which seem to be escaping so many people. I will concede, that conscientious parents have a most difficult task today to raise their children in the ways, that they were raised. That is, --- with discipline, respect and what we may call "tough love!" Difficult I say, because there is a wrong interpretation of freedom, which to most young ones is translated into license. True, genuine freedom has its disciplines, which so many fail to comprehend.
Having served the Metropolitan New York area for 30 years, from 1942 to 1972 when I was assigned to organize the Ionian Village in Greece, I still maintain bonds with my schoolchildren of the 40's, who now are grandparents. Each time I went through New York, my former students, now Grandparents, would organize a quick luncheon through their telephone squads on short notice, at which we always had close to 100 attending
A most recent reunion was on our 1st Annual Cruise in February of 1907, where a large group met with me privately.
I must tell you that practically all those Grandparents were born and reared in the cold tenement flats of Manhattan, but between the wholesome upbringing at home, and the Cathedral with its Greek and Sunday Schools along with the youth groups, brought out the best in our youth. Born and raised as they were, I was able to compare their life according to today's standards. By comparison, indeed they were sorely underprivileged.
How proud I was to having heard repeatedly, that not a single one of the couple hundred boys and girls of the Cathedral went astray. They stuck to the traditional values and the warmth of Mother and Father, who greatly sacrificed for the kids general well-being. By common opinion, among themselves they repeated many times, that while they didn't have the material goodies being poor, yet they felt enriched by the nourishment, that they received in their soul. These, and countless others, are what we would call the backbone of our Country. Today, our young ones, have more than they'll ever need, but yet, so many feel bored and impoverished, even in the midst of plenty.
Where the solution lies I do not know, but commencing from the head of our Country down to the last citizen, our chief weapon is "self-discipline," and the wish to regain at least a shadow of the old, ---- when each person of the family knew and had his or her place, and together they worked out their problems.
In our glorious Orthodox Christian Tradition we emphasize Family life, and especially extol the worth of Mothers and Fathers for their guidance and self sacrifice. The Fathers we'll honor next month, but today, we salute, we honor, and we congratulate the Mothers of our loving Mission Family, thanking them for all that they do for their Family and for our beloved Mission.
We also salute the worthy Mothers of our Great Country for their contribution in properly rearing their children. .
Lastly and importantly we thank God for the Mothers, now reposing in the Lord, who labored diligently, to rear their Children in the ways of the Lord. Our prayers abound for them, to our merciful and loving God. Amen.
+ Fr. George Papadeas
“Therefore brethren stand fast and hold the traditions which ye have been taught whether by word or our epistle.” - Thessalonians 2:15