The Healing of the Human Heart is a new blog from Fr. Michael Shanbour that will explore our human spiritual life. Drawing on the teachings of the Church Fathers, Fr. Michael will focus on the heart and the nous. Because the heart is the center of our existence, his posts will touch on many topics, from spirituality, to culture, economics, and popular trends. He asks your prayers as he begins this new work.
Blueprints for the Little Church: Creating an Orthodox Home focuses on what we call the “Foundation Stones” of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
These are the books that can never quite stay on the shelf, the ones chosen over and over again – my list of Books Every Orthodox Child Should Own.
I own many of these books and have read and reread them for most of my life. Many of them come recommended by parents of tweens and teens, and even more by teens themselves. This list is twenty books, authors and series long, and it’s barely scratching the surface of challenging, enjoyable and go-straight-to-your heart books that we can visit time and time again.
“All this means that grace is not merely an idea about God’s forgiveness in Christ. It is not a change in God’s ‘attitude’ toward a person. It is not a mere release from ‘guilt.’ It is the very life-giving, transforming, divine power and uncreated energies of God Himself.”
What if the challenges of parenting are not meant to be solved, but are actually what God gives us to raise our children prepared to go out into the world? What if the challenges in parenting are just like germs that children are exposed to when they’re young? Germs make a child sick in the short-term, but they build up a child’s immunity over the long-term, making for healthy children.
Summer chooses books with these intense, competing needs in mind. Finding a bedtime story that will nurture all five? There are days when that seems impossible. Will it work for the child who needs to wiggle? Will the pictures be engaging without being overstimulating? Is it simple enough for the little ones but still interesting enough for the older ones?
Earlier this year, I was visiting with family in Arizona and offered to hang out in the Sunday school rooms at an Orthodox church in Northern Scottsdale. I often do this when I travel, so I can meet new Orthodox kids and do one of my favorite things—share books with them.
Becoming Orthodox, it took a while to understand the Orthodox approach to evangelism. I heard a lot about “Come and See,” but very little about “Go and Tell.” It also became apparent that when we said evangelism and conversion, we were actually talking about bringing existing Christians into the Orthodox Faith from other Christian traditions. Yet, in researching the historical practice of the Orthodox Church, I saw a rich, vibrant, and aggressive model of consistently successful evangelism of entire countries.
Grace is not a concept or a declaration of innocence; rather, it is the uncreated life of God that flows from Him naturally and eternally. It is a real and concrete participation in the divine life that God has desired to share with us from the beginning.