This Saturday, we celebrated the life and legacy of one of our most venerated saints in the Armenian Church, St. Gregory the Enlightener. Today, we continue this celebration in our gathering and meditate upon his remarkable journey. His life and calling were not shaped in isolation but deeply influenced by a woman most of us seldom remember – his nanny. This extraordinary woman, whose name has been lost to history, played a key role not only in preserving St. Gregory’s life but also in molding his Christian faith, values, and outlook that would change the fate of an entire nation.
From the earliest days of his life, St. Gregory was marred by tragedy. After the assassination of his father, his life was threatened by the same political machinations. His nanny, risking her own life, fled with him to the relative safety of Caesarea in Cappadocia. The survival of St. Gregory is owed greatly to this woman’s courageous act of care and protection.
However, nanny’s role was not confined to physical safeguarding alone. She was his rock and refuge, and in her care, St. Gregory was introduced to the Christian faith. The values of compassion, forgiveness, and love for God that she instilled in him would guide his priorities, shape his principles, develop his perspective, and form his personality. She showed him how faith could bring light into the darkest corners, how it could empower an individual, and transform despair into hope.
The life of St. Gregory is a testament to this profound transformation. These values were embedded in him as he grew up, and when he returned to Armenia. He dared to stand against King Tiridates III, preaching the gospel at the cost of severe persecution. Yet, he stood firm in his faith, never wavering. Ultimately, his resilience bore fruit when Tiridates converted to Christianity, leading to the Christianization of Armenia. The seeds planted by his nanny in his early years had now grown into a tree that would shelter an entire nation.
Beloved brothers and sisters, the story of St. Gregory and his nanny lead us to a crucial reflection on the importance of Christian parenting and nurturing. Our task as parents, godparents, teachers, and mentors is not simply to care for the physical needs of our children but to help shape their spiritual priorities, principles, perspectives, and personhood.
We are called to lead by example, showing our children what it means to live a life anchored in faith. We are tasked with teaching them that their worth is not in worldly possessions or accolades but in their identity as children of God. By instilling in them the values of compassion, honesty, and selflessness, we empower them to live as Christ did. Our spiritual formation helps them stand firm in trials, shine the light of faith in dark times, and bring transformative change in the world they live in.
Remember, just as the seeds planted by St. Gregory’s nanny led to the blossoming of Christianity in Armenia, the seeds we plant in our children can have far-reaching consequences. Let us, therefore, make it our mission to nurture these seeds of faith, watering them with love, cultivating them with prayer, and nurturing them with God’s Word.
Let the life of St. Gregory the Enlightener and the significant role of his nanny serve as an inspiration for each one of us. Let it remind us of the impact that we, as spiritual guardians, can have on the lives of those entrusted in our care. Let us strive to create an environment that encourages spiritual growth, transforms lives, and ultimately empowers our children to be the light of the world. Amen.