You have heard, children, the holy account in the Gospel of how our Lord Jesus Christ loved children. He pointed out these young ones to His Apostles and all believers, commanding that they be as children in matters of faith, purity and guilelessness. What else can we tell you after these words of Christ? If even adults are called to imitate children, then children should above all be themselves, and for as long as possible. What is proper for children? To listen to their elders, to trust them, to study, study hard, to be meek and good-natured. Children willingly went to Christ from their mothers, loved to listen to Him, to be with Him, beside Him. Go to Christ, listen to His Word, be closer to Him: you will find Him in church, in prayer, you will hear Him in the Holy Gospel and in studying the Law of God. You will not only be close to Jesus Christ, but you will unite with Him in prayer, in the Holy Mysteries, especially through the Mystery of Holy Communion. In the days when Jesus Christ was living and children approached Him, adults would stop them. Now they have brought you to Christ and will always bring you to Him. If, God forbid, an adult should interfere with this, the power of the Church will firmly use the words of Christ: Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not! (Luke 18:16) We begin our studies close to the Feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. The church hymn sings of Her: "Thy Nativity, O Virgin Theotokos, hath proclaimed joy to all the world."
From the depths of our souls we wish that your nativity, which was not so long ago, and your studies will bring only joy to your parents, your family, your country, and the Holy Church. Be good and kind children, outstanding pupils and close friends to each other. Then with time you will become ideal citizens, and you will bring much joy to the people who surround you.
May God's blessing be upon you through His grace and love for mankind, both now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Translated by Maria Naumenko from Pastyrskiye Besedi s Det'mi, 1901, reprinted Moscow 1997.[../../_private/oabot.htm]