As part of a "Come Receive the Light" series on the family and the Church, The Very Rev. Dr. Joseph Purpura, chair of the Department of Youth and Parish Ministry, recently joined Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) Executive Director Fr. Chris Metropulos for two discussions about helping Orthodox teens navigate today's complicated journey to adulthood. (Listen to Part I, "Moving Towards Salvation, " and Part II, "Closer to Christ .)
Father Joseph outlined the top challenges, which he noted are as great as they've been at any time in history: busyness which can be senseless, stress, overscheduling, distractions, a sense of being overstimulated by technology, overexposure to sexual images, and the prevalence of substance abuse. He also explained that historically, parents had never been expected to raise their kids without outside support; the community as a whole felt a responsibility to help children grow up safely. Without extended families, parents are struggling to raise kids solo, and thus the Church's help and guidance is critical. "Parents should not be expected to raise the kids alone," emphasized Fr. Joseph.
Other quotes from the Fr. Joseph during the OCN discussion:
"We need to know what is needful and what is not, what is critical to our well being and development. They need the peace that is necessary to really hear God."
"Satan uses distractions to keep us from God. Teens need to take time to be quiet and listen to God."
"We need to bring out that which is good and healthy and profitable in western culture and Orthodox life. We as adults need to help create that for young people. We should challenge them but we also have to create opportunities for quietness. In that silence we hear the Word of God and feel the presence of God."
"Our children belong to God, and it is our job to raise our young people in the Church."
"What we do really matters: the health of our homes, the health of our marriages."