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The concept of Dedication in Orthodoxy


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#1 Kyrill Bolton

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 12:15 PM

Recent readings have made me wonder about the concept of dedication or dedicating someone or something unto God. I am interested if the practice of dedicating is ecclesiastically recognized (condoned, etc.) and if there is a Patistric basis or background?

I know that Hannah dedicated her son, Samuel, and there are other Biblical examples but is this a recognized practice? Is it developed more than the concept of a God parent taking on the responsibility for the spiritual development of a child, etc.?

Any help is appreciated.

#2 Kyrill Bolton

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:53 PM

From the lack of responses am I to assume that no one has any references to the practice of dedicating one's child to God in the manner that Hannah did? I have seen numerous references in the lives of the Saints where this has been so and I have heard of instances in Greece where this has been a practice.

Any help with my trying to understand the basis and the extent this is an "Orthodox" practice?

#3 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:22 PM

Well, we do hear of it many times in the Lives of the Saints. For example after a miraculous or difficult birth, the parents may dedicate their new born child to the monastic life or give the child a particular saint's name in dedication to the latter's help.

Also in more modern times we hear of people dedicating something (mostly charity to some particular cause) if they are healed or delivered from a particular danger. This kind of dedication happens a lot.

#4 Olga

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 01:31 PM

And then, there is the best-known example of all - the dedication of the daughter of the Righteous Joachim and Anna, conceived and born miraculously after much prayer by them, and dedicated to the Temple at Jerusalem at the age of three. We know this child as the Mother of God.

#5 Georgianna

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:11 PM

Perhaps St John Chrysostom's Homily 21 On Ephesians 6:1-4 might be helpful.

Here is an excerpt regarding Hannah:

Why do you refuse to imitate the holy men and women of old? Tell me! Especially you mothers; think of Hannah's example; look at what she did. She brought Samuel, her only son, to the temple, when he was only an infant! Who among you would not rather have a son like Samuel than one who became king of the whole world ten thousand times over? "But it's impossible," you say, "for my son ever to become as great as he." Why is it impossible? Because you don't really want it; you won't entrust him to the One who is able to make him great. And who is that? God. Hannah commended Samuel into the hands of God. The high priest Eli had no real ability to form him, since he even failed to form his own children. It was the mother's faith and zeal that made everything possible. He was her first and only child. She didn't know if she would ever have another, yet she never said, "I'll wait until he grows up; he should have a taste of worldly pleasures, during his childhood at least." No; she rejected all these thoughts, for she had only one object: how from the very beginning she could dedicate her heart's delight to God. Be ashamed, you men, at the wisdom of this woman. She gave Samuel to God, and with God she left him, and thus her marriage was blessed more than ever, because her first concern was for spiritual things. She dedicated the first-fruits of her womb to God and obtained many more children in return. She saw Samuel honored even in this life. If men return honor for honor, will not God do much more? He gives so much even to those who don't honor Him at all! How long are we to be mere lumps of flesh? How long will we cling to the ground? Let everything take second place to our care for our children, our bringing them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. If from the beginning we teach them to love true wisdom, they will have greater wealth and glory than riches can provide. If a child learns a trade, or is highly educated for a lucrative profession, all this is nothing compared to the art of detachment from riches; if you want to make your child rich, teach him this. He is truly rich who does not desire great possessions or surround himself with wealth, but who requires nothing. - qtd in On Marriage and Family Life‚Äč, 67-69



#6 Matt Varley

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:36 AM

Every male first-born was considered consecrated or dedicated to the Lord - see Exodus 13:

12 That thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the Lord's.
13 And every firstling of a donkey thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.


It seems that Hannah did not redeem her son with an animal sacrifice.

Edited by Olga, 23 August 2012 - 12:57 AM.
corrected font size


#7 Kyrill Bolton

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 01:06 PM

Thanks to all for their responses.




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