How I Failed as a Father on Valentine’s Day: Stickers on the Theotokos

Sometimes a father’s zeal is too zealous.

My adorable four year old daughter took Valentine’s Day stickers and went through our home sticking them on all of our religious art.

I (regretfully) became angry with her. For example, I was pretty upset to see a cheap sticker on this authentic egg-tempera painted icon of the Holy Theotokos and Christ Child:

Here is another “epic” example:

I scolded her and told her that she should not place stickers on holy things. We should revere holy images and not treat them disrespectfully.

I watched her eyes well up with tears and she turned her face away from me in shame. My sweet wife Joy said, “Honey, I think she was doing something else.” And then it hit me. Maybe it was my Guardian Angel slapping me upside the back of my head.

I asked her, “Were you placing all these stickers on Jesus, Mary, and the Saints because you love them and want to show your Valentines love for your friends?”

She nodded her head “yes” with teary eyes. I gave her a hug and told her what a good girl she was. I felt bad. She was innocently showing childlike “dulia” for these holy images in full accord with the Seventh Ecumenical Council (podcast here).

And the silly stickers came off no problem and damaged nothing.

It reminded me of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation to Christian fathers:


“And you, fathers, provoke not your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and correction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)

Fathers, be slow to correct and consider the motivations of the little ones. We don’t want to drive away their innocent devotion to that which is good.

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Happy Valentines Day and Happy Ash Wednesday,
Dr Taylor Marshall

PS: I’m sealed for death and resurrection in Christ!

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