Blueprints for the Little Church: Creating an Orthodox Home
By Elissa Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker
Published by Ancient Faith, 2016
Blueprints for the Little Church addresses the critical question parents face: how do we provide our children with the spiritual foundations that will keep them close to Christ throughout their lives? A child’s spiritual nurturing comes through their involvement in the life of the Church, both in the parish and at home – the ‘Little Church’.
Creating an Orthodox home is about raising saints: ‘It’s not about manners – it’s about holiness. It’s not about ‘good behaviour’ – it’s about a life given completely to God in loving humility and peace.’ The wisdom of the Church Fathers are scattered throughout the book, supplemented by practical guidance and examples from Orthodox parents of ‘how our family is living this concept.’
At its core are the three disciplines in which we are to continually grow as Orthodox Christians: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. No hard line of ‘what everyone must do to be really Orthodox’ is presented. There is no one ‘right’ way to incorporate Orthodox spirituality into the home. Each family is different, therefore home lives will look different. The authors are mindful about creating realistic expectations and caution us to go slowly, to be patient with small steps.
We are encouraged, rather than being made to feel as if we’ve missed the mark if we do not have the perfect Orthodox home and family life. Importantly, we are sent again and again to check with our own priest: ‘your spiritual Father knows you best and therefore can most wisely help you know how to apply this.’
There is much richness in this book. It encourages us to move from inherited ways of doing things toward more purposeful and meaningful Orthodox practices that help us centre our lives as members of the Body of Christ. We are encouraged to live as if we dwell in His Church, so that our home looks, feels and sounds at all times a harmonious Orthodox ‘Little Church’.
Source: Lychnos December 2017 / January 2018