NB: Angelic children. A story told by Archimandrite Zacharias

May God place in the hearts of our children the things they should know.


Archiamandrite Zacharias of St John the Baptist Monastery in Essex England lecturing in Dallas, Texas Feb 2010 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/saint-nicholas/4345787767/in/set-72157623400813646/) Archimandrite Zacharias of St John the Baptist Monastery in Essex England has told this story. I have benefited from many things Fr Zacharias has said, but nothing as much as this:


He tells of a Greek priest he knows who has three sons who are like angels. One is a priest, and the others serve in the altar with their father. This is, lamentably a rare thing: for the children to grow up with the piety of their parents.


Fr Zacharias asked this priest why his children were so angelic. The priest replied that he has never taught his children anything about the faith, but since they were little, has had the custom of kneeling beside their bed while they were sleeping for a half hour and praying that the Lord would put in their hearts what they should know.


I wish I had prayed more for my children. I have taught them many things – many good things. I have taught them the truth, but I have not prayed at their beds for a half hour every night. The life of this simple priest and his angelic sons is a sobering wakeup.


Really, it is all about prayer. We need it as much as we need oxygen, and yet, we do not do it enough, even for the ones we love. Isn’t this a terrible, inexplicable conundrum?


We are approaching the Sunday commemorating the casting out of Adam from Paradise (aka “Forgiveness Sunday”). The only path back to paradise for ourselves and our loved ones is prayer. Let us join with Adam and lament:


In my wretchedness, O Lord, I have disobeyed Thy commandment. / Woe is me! I have been stripped of glory, / filled with shame, and cast out from the joy of Paradise. / I have been justly deprived of Thy blessings: // but in Thy mercy and compassion take pity on me. (Expostilarion, Forgiveness Sunday. The Casting out of Adam from Paradise)


If we learn to pray a little better during the fast, it will not be without purpose.


May God place in our hearts the zeal and ability to pray.


May God place in the hearts of our children the things they should know.  




“NB” is shorthand for “nota bene” ,which is Latin for “Note well”. These shorter posts are meant to be “noted well” more often because they are briefer than the usual blog posts. I have “noted well”  that many of my flock does do not read the longer posts. I have a lot of stuff to tell you, so there will still be longer posts, but I also plan to post shorter “snippets” which will have “NB:” in the title.

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2010-02-10-angelic-children-fathers-who-pray-for-their-children.doc and on the blog.


New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime


Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal


Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.


Redeeming the Time BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (seraphim@orthodox.net)



  1. Father, Bless,

    What a powerful story and post!

    I have so many sorrows and regrets about the past when it comes to the raising of my children. But surprisingly, Fr. Zacharias’ story gives me more hope and joy than it does regret. I am thinking of the parable of the Lord about the vineyard workers coming to work at different times of the day, some in the morning, some at noon and some right before the end of the day,–yet all being paid the same wage!

    My children range from age 9 to almost 22. All are still home and I can, quite literally, begin to kneel and pray at each of their beds. But even when they move out, the distance between my kneeling body and their beds will not matter!

    Whether our children are born into the Vineyard or come into it in the eleventh hour, they are still in the Vineyard! What a wondrous and hopeful vision–and Fr. Zacharias’ story has provided the key to making this vision a reality.

    Thank you, more than I can say, for sharing this, Father.

  2. P.S.
    I just wanted to add that I realize that it is not even in the ability to kneel at their bedsides that gives me the opportunity to effect change in the lives of my children, through prayer. Kneeling by bedsides and even words of prayer can be practiced as empty ritual and I may or may not actually, physically, begin this practice with all of my children. It is all metaphor for something far more powerful truth.

    The act of kneeling is a metaphor of submission and a recognition of our complete and utter dependence on the mercy of God. The nearness of our children as we pray for them is helpful in keeping our prayers for them focused and there is power in proximity. But as the Lord demonstrated in the healing of the centurion’s servant, genuine, deep faith does not require it.

  3. One last thing–I cannot get the image of this priest kneeling by the bedside of his children out of my mind. Aside from the power of his prayers, the sight of their father kneeling each night by their bed, praying for them, had to have had a profound effect on these boys. That is an image of love and of the love of the Father that speaks louder than all the sermons in the world.

  4. Thank you for this encouraging story, dear Father!

    What a great example of humility – this Greek priest! He himself did not teach…though, I imagine how he wanted, and how maybe it was hard to restrain…Though he definitely taught – by his own example, by his life & his life! in which the most important was (and is): that he loved GOD first of all. And such a humility – to give everything in the hands of God, diminish himself totally, totally give oneself & his sons to the power of Christ, allowing Him to perform everything!

    I just bow in front of this man, as I thought while reading – the man of God.

    Deborah, your comments here are very precious for me, in all respects.
    And – for sure – where there is s spiritual link, where there is a prayer – there are no distances.



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *