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(May 2005)

Mother: the Most Dynamic and Original Archetype of Christian Upbringing

Source: “PROSVASIS” Magazine, July-August 1998, written by Fr. Sarantis Sarantou, translated from the Greek by St. POIMEN Brotherhood


It is a most discussed matter. It is frequently ascertained. It is a common educative topic: Mother, this archetype, this original and most ancient of all pedagogic persons plays the first and most important role in the most exerting task of raising a new person. St. Gregory the Theologian mostly, but also all of the Church’s Holy Fathers who exerted a great part of their pastoral efforts and work within the world and among people, they all consistently concluded that there exists a great difficulty in the tending and upbringing of man absent of a true Christian archetype.

The personality of man is comprised of obvious external creative components as well as of hidden internal psychodynamic elements. Both factors which compose and make the personality of man, the external abilities and the internal psychodynamic elements, are formed and configured with their basis being the first archetypes of behavior, especially the first one which happens to be the mother. Thus, a mother is the first, most basic and original example of behavior for a child.

How great was truly the respect which the Holy Elder Porfyrios had towards the person of his mother! What great admiration he had for the miracle of child creation and subsequent birth of a new human being! He watched full of Christ’s love though his discreet spiritual eyes the development of the fetus, a new human being, within a mother’s womb. He advised the young women and the future mothers as if he was a most experienced doctor. The Holy Elder expressed the full extent of his Christ-like fatherly love towards all pregnant women. He believed that love and affection in Christ’s name are necessary and essential prerequisites so that a pregnant mother can bring to completion the miraculous “god-like co-creation” but laborious act.

The Elder’s Christ-like love comprised the cardinal god-man archetype regimen which helped women become essential participants in the act of creation by out Trinitarian God. When a woman senses and comprehends the first and basic duty and mission, when she becomes obedient to the inward appeals of her heart, when she understands and accepts that her most valuable charisma is the realization of this “God-man operation” of motherhood, she then has her whole existence achieve her true worth. The whole divine grandeur of the Holy Trinity’s creation is then affected within her body. It is then that she becomes the happiest of all of God’s creations. She becomes joyful with the greatest of joys of the greater creation, her true cooperation and participation in the act of creation of a new person, with inconceivable and everlasting prospects.

The Holy Elder Porfyrios had reached what is most desired by every consciously struggling Christian, that being the extreme level of a dispassionate nature, purely dedicated to Christ. There was not even a slight shadow of prurience to take away from the miracle of cell reproduction, which his divinely inspired eyes could observe take place within the bodies of the new mothers that were his spiritual children. He would bless them and wholeheartedly wish and pray for them that these new mothers serve in this God-pleasing act of obedience in a dignified manner and a heart full of joy. The archetype of this holy spiritual father, a true icon of Christ, functioned in a dynamic Christian manner within the souls of the new mothers. The physical strength and overall condition of all those pregnant mothers blessed by the Elder evolved in a charismatic manner, all the way to the last moments of their pregnancy and the birth of the new child. Concurrently, all of their psychodynamic abilities were also developing in a manner necessary to withstand the various and plentiful hardships of pregnancy and the laborious child-birth.

The Elder would advise the expecting mothers to cast away every dark thought, and every gloomy and pessimistic feeling. He would teach them that they must hunt away fear, agony, and every possible aversion which poisons their relationship with the unborn child. He would ask them instead to repeat the prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner), listen to Byzantine music, interact with everything beautiful in their surrounding environment, get involved in pleasant spiritual discussions, and, most important, maintain excellent relations with their spouse. The Elder would also recommend that they speak to their unborn child and to show a loving interest by caressing them, even if it was through the walls of their belly. The God-inspired Elder maintained that the fetus, this new human being, literally “breathes” the temperate psychological and spiritual climate of his mother. He is psychologically and spiritually nourished through the Christ-like psyche and spirit of the mother, not unlike the manner by which he is fed through her blood, through her physical body.

It is for all these reason that all of us ought to be extremely attentive towards any prospective mother. From the person nearest, her husband, all the way to her more distant environment, we must all become extremely considerate and discreet. We must display warmth towards the incubating mother and her child in gestation so that it is born able, balanced and graceful. We are all responsible for our personal behavior towards the pregnant mothers and her child.

If we, as a society, do not repent and change our timid and inhumane behavior towards the expecting mother and her unborn child – after all we are living through a misanthropous time period which displays little, if any, value towards children – we can not possibly expect any form of improvement in the quality of our youth. A balanced and spiritually progressive youth will never exist in essence for as long as we do not have the consistent presence of this dynamic and original archetype of Christian upbringing by the mother; she is the one who will compose and weave, with our Lord’s cooperation, the psychological make-up and the flesh of the child. She is the one person who, giving her own body and the blood from her heart to the unborn child first and later to the small infant and even later to her growing young boy or girl, will help bring up the person that will dictate the quality of his or her generation.

Glory be to our Trinitarian God, because our whole Orthodox Church, as the treasury of the Holy Trinity’s grace, guards within Her own body and flesh – within the Holy Sacraments – this type of wonderful mother. They, alone, are the ones who are capable of bringing into this world incomprehensibly plagued with low birth rate, Christ-blessed healthy and Christ-worthy children.