Our series of reflections on the family continues this month as we explore the topic of healthy communication. The topic of communication is a particularly important one for families in our contemporary age, where there exists an unprecedented abundance of advanced technologies for virtually instantaneous communication with others across the globe. Despite such great potential for communication, despite the ease with which family members dispersed over wide geographic areas may converse with one another on a regular basis through emails and instant messaging, a very basic yet complex question persists: Do we in fact communicate?
As Orthodox Christian families, this is a pivotal question to consider, for it often reflects our difficulty in grasping the full meaning of real, authentic communication. It also speaks to the heart of our capacity to cultivate relationships with one another that exhibit the authentic presence and transforming love of God. This is particularly the case with families because of the unique status of the family as a community of spiritual intimacy, whose members are called to support one another, grow in their relationships with one another, and be actively engaged in regular worship and prayer. Understood in this way, authentic communication involves much more than a passive exchange of words between two or more parties; rather, authentic, Christian communication in the family is marked by a sustained, unwavering commitment to a dialogue of love, patience, understanding, and moral instruction among its members. It is marked, ultimately, by the communication of faith.
Can we characterize our own families as healthy environments for the authentic communication of faith? Do our families operate as places that value and encourage open expressions of faith, such as prayer, religious discussions, and reading of the Holy Scriptures? In an appropriate passage from his Epistle to the Ephesians (5:18-20), St. Paul alludes to this very question when he counsels the community to "be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father." This passage describes the communication of faith, which is a welcome and joyous responsibility for every Christian family to consider. The passage applies with equal validity to our own families as it did for the early Christian community of Ephesus, whom St. Paul here addresses. I would encourage you to incorporate this beautiful passage from Ephesians in your regular family reading of the Holy Scriptures.
As you consider the role of authentic communication in your own families, and the extent to which your family is a space for the open and honest communication of faith, it is my heartfelt prayer that your faith in Christ may continue to deepen, that your love for one another may continue to grow, and that through a full, sincere, and vibrant communication among the members of your family, "you may come to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19).
Archbishop of America