As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been praying an Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children. I was unfamiliar with akathists until Fr. David talked about this one with me and we prayed it together. The original akathist, the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos was composed by St. Roman the Melodist, in Constantinople, before his repose in 556. Akathist, from the word “akathistos”, literally means “not sitting” and it is normally prayed standing. Akathists are composed of alternating long and short stanzas. Each short stanza is called a kontakion and each long stanza is called an ikos. The format has become popular and many different akathists have been composed, including those to Christ, the cross, saints, and the one I mentioned to the Theotokos, nurturer of children.
The prayers in this akathist ask the Theotokos to raise our children. I was speaking with sockmonk about this hymn the other day. He expressed what I’ve also been feeling: that in praying this akathist he feels like he is building a relationship with the Theotokos.
This is wonderful set of prayers for those that have children or godchildren. I know that too often I don’t pray for them like I should. It’s helpful to have these prayers so we can contemplate both what we want for them and for ourselves.
I was stopped short by Ikos 5 of the akathist that prays the beatitude for my children:
Raise my children to be poor in spirit, that they May inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.
Raise my children to weep, that they may be comforted.
Raise my children to be meek, that they may inherit the earth.
Raise my children to hunger and thirst after righteousness, that they may be filled.
Raise my children to be merciful, that they may obtain mercy.
Raise my children to be pure in heart, that they may see God.
Raise my children to be peacemakers, that they may be called the sons of God.
Raise my children (names), O Lady, to be made worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven and make them heirs of eternal blessings.
So often it becomes obvious whether I really believe something when I’m trying to teach it to my children. As a father, I had to ask myself whether I really wanted my children to weep (or mourn). For that matter, do I really want the rest for them? Yes, I do. Lord, have mercy.