Today’s post is going to break from the pattern, and will not cover one of St. Ignatius’ letters. Instead, I am going to quote a large section of St. John Chrysostom’s 9th Homily on St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy. This is in part a response to a comment exchange between myself and a woman who goes by the moniker “Spacetraveller” over at Dalrock’s blog. His homily will be used in a future post, which I hope to have done Friday or Saturday, concerning moral agency in men and women. The reason for this choice should become clear then. Here is the end of his homily, which started by examining 1 Timothy 2:11-15, and shifts somewhat to focus on the role of Christian parents:
Moral. Hear this, you fathers and mothers, that your bringing up of children shall not lose its reward. This also he says, as he proceeds,Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children.1 Timothy 5:10 Among other commendations he reckons this one, for it is no light praise to devote to God those children which are given them of God. For if the basis, the foundation which they lay be good, great will be their reward; as great, if they neglect it, will be their punishment. It was on account of his children that Eli perished. For he ought to have admonished them, and indeed he did admonish them, but not as he ought; but from his unwillingness to give them pain he destroyed both himself and them. Hear this, you fathers, bring your children up with great carein the nurture and admonition of the Lord.Ephesians 6:4 Youth is wild, and requires many governors, teachers, directors, attendants, and tutors; and after all these, it is a happiness if it be restrained. For as a horse not broken in, or a wild beast untamed, such is youth. But if from the beginning, from the earliest age, we fix it in good rules, much pains will not be required afterwards; for good habits formed will be to them as a law. Let us not suffer them to do anything which is agreeable, but injurious; nor let us indulge them, as forsooth but children. Especially let us train them in chastity, for there is the very bane of youth. For this many struggles, much attention will be necessary. Let us take wives for them early, so that their brides may receive their bodies pure and unpolluted, so their loves will be more ardent. He that is chaste before marriage, much more will he be chaste after it; and he that practiced fornication before, will practice it after marriage.All bread,it is said,is sweet to the fornicator.Sirach 23:17 Garlands are wont to be worn on the heads of bridegrooms, as a symbol of victory, betokening that they approach the marriage bed unconquered by pleasure. But if captivated by pleasure he has given himself up to harlots, why does he wear the garland, since he has been subdued?
Let us admonish them of these things. Let us employ sometimes advice, sometimes warnings, sometimes threatening. In children we have a great charge committed to us. Let us bestow great care upon them, and do everything that the Evil One may not rob us of them. But now our practice is the very reverse of this. We take all care indeed to have our farm in good order, and to commit it to a faithful manager, we look out for it an ass-driver, and muleteer, and bailiff, and a clever accomptant. But we do not look out for what is much more important, for a person to whom we may commit our son as the guardian of his morals, though this is a possession much more valuable than all others. It is for him indeed that we take such care of our estate. We take care of our possessions for our children, but of the children themselves we take no care at all. What an absurdity is this! Form the soul of your son aright, and all the rest will be added hereafter. If that is not good, he will derive no advantage from his wealth, and if it is formed to goodness he will suffer no harm from poverty. Would you leave him rich? Teach him to be good: for so he will be able to acquire wealth, or if not, he will not fare worse than they who possess it. But if he be wicked, though you leave him boundless wealth, you leave him no one to take care of it, and you render him worse than those who are reduced to extreme poverty. For poverty is better than riches for those children who are not well-disposed. For it retains them in some degree of virtue even against their will. Whereas money does not suffer those who would be sober to continue so, it leads them away, ruins them, and plunges them into infinite dangers.
Mothers, be specially careful to regulate your daughters well; for the management of them is easy. Be watchful over them, that they may be keepers at home. Above all, instruct them to be pious, modest, despisers of wealth, indifferent to ornament. In this way dispose of them in marriage. For if you form them in this way, you will save not only them, but the husband who is destined to marry them, and not the husband only, but the children, not the children only, but the grandchildren. For the root being made good, good branches will shoot forth, and still become better, and for all these you will receive a reward. Let us do all things therefore, as benefiting not only one soul, but many through that one. For they ought to go from their father’s house to marriage, as combatants from the school of exercise, furnished with all necessary knowledge, and to be as leaven able to transform the whole lump to its own virtue. And let your sons be so modest, as to be distinguished for their steadiness and sobriety, that they may receive great praise both from God and men. Let them learn to govern their appetites, to avoid extravagance, to be good economists, affectionate, and submissive to rule. For so they will be able to secure a good reward to their parents, so all things will be done to the glory of God, and to our salvation, through Christ Jesus our Lord, with whom, etc.