We’ve all heard it said, ‘youth are the future’…of societies, of families and of our Orthodox faith. We know that the Orthodox Church is the entire community of faithful – women and men, children and parents, young and elderly – but we also know that its main purpose is to unite believers in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and to establish a living inheritance of the Word of God. I believe that it is the responsibility of entire families and parish communities to pass on this inheritance by providing youth with an education in the faith. For me, this means encouraging youth to take on social responsibilities, participate in parish life, offering spiritual guidance and most importantly, by acting as role models for them of what it means to try and live an Orthodox Christian life. Be reminded of Christ’s greatest commandments: “that you love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. That you love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). We must communicate this message to youth from their earliest days and give them opportunities to show this Orthodox Christian agape (love) towards all creation (humanity, nature, animals).
As youth growing up in Canada, we are blessed with many luxuries that youth in other parts of the world cannot even dream of. During this Lenten period, I find myself reflecting on what my calling is in life and how fasting helps me to hear this calling. I’ve realized that fasting isn’t just taking meat out of my diet or depriving myself of my guiltiest pleasures…it’s about making sacrifices in my life to try and help another life. It’s about exercising that Orthodox Christian agape as often as I can. I believe that as youth, this is our greatest responsibility to the Orthodox Church: to learn to love. We can learn to love by sharing musical talents, making others laugh, working or playing as a team, being a loving daughter or son, a forgiving friend…the ways we can learn are endless but the goal is the same. I ask that youth reading this blog take a minute and ask themselves, ‘what am I doing to show love towards others?’ This Lent, I encourage all youth to volunteer (sacrifice) their time and energy towards a cause which is close to them and make every effort to learn to love. As the youngest generation of Orthodox Christians, we too must do our part to protect our inheritance.
written by Patricia Rakopoulos, Member