"The solution is to be found through the sanctification of the parents. Become saints and you will have no problems with your children." Father Porphyrios , Wounded By Love

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Monday, April 4, 2022

Great Lent for Kids Worksheets

Download these two curriculum worksheets here for your students to learn more about Great Lent in the Orthodox Christian Church. The graphics in this lesson include Lady Sarakosti with her poem in Greek and English as well as a Lenten word search and calendar of the weeks to follow the main themes towards Pascha. Kids will be engaged to color, cut and glue as they grow in their faith.

These files are also recommended for our Orthodox Kids Journal Project located here.
This is a free ongoing activity that follows the Church year. A description of the project and photos can be found here

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Songs for Lazarus Kalanta in English

In many parts of Orthodox Christian Greece- the highly anticipated Saturday of Lazarus is celebrated with great joy. There are festivities of songs, costumes, and fish as the Church heralds the Resurrection of Lazarus as a foretaste of Pascha and our very own Resurrection after death. For those that doubt life after death and who dismiss this reality by saying it happened to Christ because He is God but will not to us since we are man...our Lord gives this miracle...what better way to concretely display Christ's power over death and His will for all of us "Lazaruses"...join in below....  


"Lazarus has come, and so have the palms,
Sunday of the Palms, and Holy week has come!
Wake up Lazarus and do not sleep,
Your day has come and your joy now to reap!

Where o Lazarus?
Where were you hiding?
Down with the deceased,
Like one who is dying?"........


 (Sung to this melody
https://youtu.be/oSYKJvWabbc)

+ + +

Καλή Ανάσταση!  A good Resurrection to all!
Ήρθε ο Λάζαρος, ήρθαν τα Βάγια,
ήρθε των Βαγιών η εβδομάδα.
Ξύπνα Λάζαρε και μην κοιμάσαι,
ήρθε η μέρα σου και η χαρά σου.






Πού ήσουν Λάζαρε; Πού ήσουν κρυμμένος;
Κάτω στους νεκρούς, σαν πεθαμένος.
Δε μου φέρνετε, λίγο νεράκι,
που 'ν' το στόμα μου πικρό φαρμάκι.
Δε μου φέρνετε λίγο λεμόνι,
Που 'ν' το στόμα μου, σαν περιβόλι.

Πηγή: https://www.sansimera.gr/articles/584/174

© SanSimera.gr

Lazarus Saturday - Arise!

This is a great way to involve your kids in the Raising of Lazarus! Wrap them in "burial" cloth and see who will be first to break free on your command!

It's extremely significant that the Church places Lazarus Saturday exactly one week earlier than the Resurrection of Christ. The miracle teaches us the power of God over death, so that we may learn to truly believe and have our faith transformed at Pascha. Just as we begin Holy Week, we get a glimpse and foretaste of the way God will save the world from the corruption of sin, from sickness and pain. As Christ said, Lazarus was merely sleeping. Although death had claimed him for four days in the tomb, and he smelled from the corruption of his body, he will live again. This is our Orthodox theology! Our view of death as sleeping in anticipation of whats to come. This is the joyful sorrow of what we are about to experience in Holy Week.
We mourn, all the while expecting the greatest of all miracles!

Lazarus is also one of the most convincing examples used to explain the respect, honor, and sanctity of the physical body in the Orthodox faith as we fully believe in the Resurrection of the BODY and the SOUL for eternal life. Although it remains a mystery, and we will not be in need of food as we'll be more like angels, we will indeed have our physical bodies. See  Ezekiel 37:5.


Lastly, remember: Lazarus is each one of us. Each and every time we attend a funeral or place a loved one in the grave, we should remember this very real example as a foretaste of our own earthly death. How does God feel about each one of us? Does He weep for us as He wept for Lazarus? Is He a loving God that desires us to be with Him? Why has He allowed Lazarus to die?

We find the answer in the words of Christ to His Father, which are for our benefit. He says, "So that they may believe."

Christ attends the funeral to join the people in their sadness, to display His own mourning over all of humanity's fallen and deteriorated state, and to transform the event into a celebration of life! He turns our tears of sadness into tears of joy!
Christ - the Joy, the Truth, and the Light of All, the Life of the World and the Resurrection - has appeared in his goodness to those on earth. He has become the Image of our resurrection, granting divine forgiveness to all. - See more at: http://lent.goarch.org/saturday_of_lazarus/learn/#sthash.w0V0m0Jz.dpuf
Christ - the Joy, the Truth, and the Light of All, the Life of the World and the Resurrection - has appeared in his goodness to those on earth. He has become the Image of our resurrection, granting divine forgiveness to all. - See more at: http://lent.goarch.org/saturday_of_lazarus/learn/#sthash.w0V0m0Jz.dpuf

PASCHA: The Red Egg


Here's a look at the pious custom of red eggs in the Orthodox Church for you and your families to enjoy. Where did the tradition come from anyway? It seems there are a few possible answers to this question...of which I prefer to believe in the miracle that God worked through His handmaiden, Saint Mary Magdalene (whom by the way is often wrongly attributed as the prostitute who anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair - Here is an Orthodox Wiki for a well cited clarification).

Other symbolism, not as dogma, but as tradition includes:

*The egg as the new life in Christ through His resurrection

*Red for the color of our Lord's blood shed on the cross but also for His divinity

*The outer shell to be cracked as the doors of Hades are shattered open

Since children enjoy decorating the eggs, why not encourage them to display their faith on them, as the picture shows! Be sure not to throw away any icons if you use them, but certainly include symbols like ~ icxc, fish, crosses, tree of life, the Trinity, 4 Greek Letters for Mother of God...etc

Try creating a design on your eggs with with melted wax,
then dip them to dye them red, and afterward, burn off the wax to reveal the design underneath.  This is a wonderful craft for older kids to try. Ukranian Egg Kits are available online. The simple wooden tools for the wax are called "kistkas"

LASTLY - remember, eggs and eggshells from the Church that have been blessed should not be thrown away!  Please gather them to be burned with your holy items and ashes buried.

This worksheet is available in PDF format here

Pascha Basket

If you are looking for ways to keep "Christ" in your celebration of Easter, consider making an Orthodox Pascha Basket instead of the typical egg & candy overload! Each of the following traditional foods has a symbolic and spiritual significance.

We focus on saying "Pascha" which encompasses our spiritual journey
to the Resurrection of Christ, and is our "passage" from the Hebrew "pesche, or passover from death to life." 

 Each year, the Church follows the same sequence of events - and one can't happen without the next. I encourage you not to skip right to the Resurrection without going thru the Cross. Living each component in correct Orthodox theology is truly "Orthobiosi"  

...Christ raising Lazarus, Christ's Entry to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), Christ's arrival to those anticipating Him (Bridegroom) the Passover (Christ's Mystical Last Supper on Holy Thursday and His washing of the disciples feet) His betrayal by Judas arrest and judgement, the Crucifixion, burial and tomb, all culminating at the glorious Resurrection of our Lord.



FAMILY BASKET INGREDIENTS: 

Many parishes will bless the baskets all together after the Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning. Ask your local priest to try this custom!
  • a yeast bread,
  • a bitter herb
  • wine, 
  • cheese, meat, butter, salt, and a red egg. 
  • Sweet bread is always included, leavened with yeast. This is a symbol of the New Covenant; the Jews made unleavened bread, and we, the children of the new covenant, make leavened bread. Kulich is the traditional Russian bread, and Tsourekia is the traditional Greek braided bread. The braided form of this bread is a display of the Trinity  - 3 in 1. 
  • The bitter herb, often horseradish or garlic, serves as a reminder of the first Passover (horseradish is eaten as a traditional part of the original Passover meal) and of the bitter sufferings which Christ endured for our sake. Sometimes the herb is colored red with beets, symbolizing the Blood of Christ. The bitter herb is also to bring to mind the Jews’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, or our 40 days of the fast. 
  • Wine, cheese, and butter are figurative of all the good things of life, and remind us of the earthly gifts that come from God. Meat is included in remembrance of the sacrifice of the Old Testament Passover, which has been replaced by Christ, the New Passover and Lamb of God. (slim jims, beef jerky, salami can be fun finger food) 
  • Salt serves as a reminder to us that we are “the salt of the earth.” 
  • The red egg, which we crack,  is likened to the tomb from which Christ arose. This is because of the miracle of new life which comes from the egg, just as Christ miraculously came forth from the tomb, shattering the bonds of sin. Of course, red for His blood shed for us, and the miracle from St Maria Magdalane when the egg in her hand miraculously turned red as she proclaimed "Christ is Risen" to the non-believing Emperor.

Many Orthodox Christians also cover their basket with a Pascha basket cover.

Here and here  are some more links on Pascha Baskets.

Read here for information concerning how the Orthodox Christian tradition of  Pascha baskets got started.http://www.iarelative.com/easter/bcover.htm


Holy Week Kids Orthodox Chart

Download for free and print this helpful lesson in chart format HERE to remind your students about each day of Holy Week in the Orthodox Church. The PDF file is filled with icons and a short description that is easily understood to enrich your experience to Pascha!

The second page includes my original Pascha Poem, along with
the Greek text to Xristos Anesti.

Holy Monday- Joseph
Holy Tuesday- Ten Virgins
Holy Weds - Betrayal of Judas
Holy Thurs - Mystical Supper
Holy Friday- Crucifixion
Holy Saturday- Empty Tomb
Holy Sunday - Resurrection of Christ

Join our Orthodox Kids Journal Project. All files are located here.

Wishing you and your families a blessed Pascha 2019!



Pascha Handwriting



Give a try at writing a new language! Ask your students to write "Christ is Risen" with the appropriate responses. Print the letters inside the white spaces of the following foreign languages inside this beautiful illustration: Greek at the top, then Arabic, English and Slavonic. It's also a fantastic design for your Pascha basket covers if you know how to cross stitch or screenprint.


Kalo Pascha to your families!

Pascha Poem & Orthodox Craft Idea

How does one sum up the great feast of Pascha easily for kids?

With a long white piece of paper, we made three folds and created our very own accordion Pascha card with original poem to accompany the Passion and Resurrection of Christ icons cut out from Orthodox catalogs. This simple craft turned out to be a nice way to reinforce the meaning behind each day for young and old. Especially for godchildren and penpals far away, it helps us stay in touch spiritually since we will not be able to celebrate together. Here are the words to our poem:

  1. To Christ our God, Who raised Lazarus from the dead...
  2. You traveled to Jerusalem with the people you led...
  3. Teaching all to be servants rather than trying to get ahead...
  4. Your Body and Blood for eternity us you fed...
  5. Then nailed to the Cross, You conquered death for three days dead...
  6. As we wait to proclaim with our eggs dyed red...
  7. "I am the Resurrection and the Life,
      he who believes in me shall never die." Jesus said.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Great Lent Curriculum

Here is a lesson plan chart for Orthodox Great Lent. The lessons are designed for each Sunday leading up to Holy Week.
    
Each session will include either a craft, coloring page, memory words, activity or hymn to chant. Every child will create necklace name tags on the first day, and decorate folders with fasteners inside that will become their workbooks. They only take home their craft each Sunday, as I will hold on to their folders until the end and add pages for Holy Week with Pascha.
     
So far, I'm really looking forward to creating the "Family Icon Tree's" and Mummy Wraps with toilet paper for the raising of Saint Lazarus! If you have other ideas I can include, please pass them along! I'll be converting this whole chart to Greek as well if anyone needs that.

Stay tuned for a follow-up PDF and SCRIBD link to download the workbook pages. Workbook Here

UPDATE: I've recently added a sentence scramble activity for the older ones in the group. Basically, seal envelopes with words from at least two memory phrases and ask the kids to work in groups to put the phrase together. This will work well on the Sunday of St John Climacus.

Monday, March 7, 2022

Canon of St Andrew for Kids


If you are feeling that the Great Fast snuck up on you this year, and you are hoping to get into the "zone" rather quickly give the Canon of St Andrew of Crete a try this week! Over the course of the first four days of the Great Fast, Great Compline is read in the evenings with a portion of the Great Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.  


The Canon is also read in its entirety on Wednesday evening of the 5th week so that we may approach the conclusion of the Great Fast again with a proper spirit.

You can access and download an overview handout on The Canon of St Andrew of Crete here  or for each days portion visit this link.

St. Andrew of Crete (c. 660-740) was born in Damascus. He became a monk at Mar Saba and served later at the Holy Sepulchre. Around 685, he was ordained a deacon at Hagia Sophia. He also ran a refuge that took in orphans and cared for the elderly. He ended his days as Archbishop of Gortyna, a position to which he was elevated in 692, on the island of Crete. He wrote homilies that display great oratorical skill, as well as formal public speeches later used in written form of the saints.


Wishing you and your loved ones the true spirit of repentance and forgiveness. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Orthodox Jeopardy

This season of Lent gather Orthodox Christians of all ages for a fun and interactive game of Orthodox Jeopardy. Created in Microsoft Powerpoint, you'll sing along to the familiar theme songs of the television gameshow while testing your knowledge of the faith. Create teams or play individually. Even set up a laptop and projector screen to host this game at Youth Night or Retreats with popcorn and sleeping bags!
The questions range in difficulty and topics include: The Saints, Art & Architecture, Music & Hymnology, The Bible, Faith & Traditions, Miracles...plus more!

    Click here to download this file from our Orthodox Scribd Group or better yet please e-mail eleniemarie@gmail.com for the most accurate Powerpoint layout since it's distorting quite a bit thru the web. Best results have been had by downloading and opening it in Powerpoint itself.

    This activity is also very adaptable for local traditions, languages, levels of difficulty, etc. Hope you enjoy it~

    Tuesday, March 1, 2022

    Great Lent Menu - Vegan Fasting

    For the 40 day fast this year as Orthodox Christians, we'll try following a pre-planned menu to make life a bit more organized. This also allows someone else to do the grocery shopping for the week! I've included vegan lunch ideas that hopefully your kids will like as much as ours do! Please share your ideas in the comments. To follow a stricter budget, we make a large pot of soup for several days.


    Fasting in the Orthodox Church for us means having foods on hand that are quick & vegan so we fill the pantry with only these options!

    The 2nd and 4th weeks can be similar with fish added for the feast of the Annunciation. We'll trade out a few weeknight meals with Falafel, Green Beans Greek Style, Lentil Meat Loaf and Grilled Portabella Burgers.



    Holy Fire Worksheet

    Most Orthodox Christians children in America are unaware of the
    greatest miracle which still takes place every year. The miracle of the HOLY FIRE in the Sepulchre Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem is truly remarkable! Download and use this worksheet to help your students discuss the holy sites in Jersualem with maps. We review the amazing story when the Patriarch received the fire which cracked down thru the column in the courtyard, and also we share oil, dirt and 33 taper candles from this part of the world as we discuss the FIRE which DOES NOT CONSUME beards and faces and fingers for a good 40 minutes to an hour after it arrives on Holy Saturday!

    May we all have the tremendous blessing to be present one Pascha in Jerusalem!!!

    The file for the HOLY FIRE can be found here:

    Sunday, February 27, 2022

    Lady Sarakosti Poem & Coloring for Great Lent




    This year, we painted on food coloring before baking. Give it a try! 
    POEM
    Lady Sarakosti, is a custom from long ago,
    Our yiayias (grandmothers) used to make her,
    out of flour and H2O.

    She wears a modest nun’s dress, with a cross upon her head,
    silently without a mouth she prays,
    to fast with fruits, nuts and bread.

    Her feet teach us how to count,
    the weeks of Lent are seven,
    we cut one off each Saturday,
    until Pascha and the Resurrection to heaven.




    **If you make a better translation of the original Greek poem, please share it! This is also my version of a more Monastic Lady Sarakosti drawing with a prayer rope in hand and head veil**

    Lady Sarakosti Recipe
    2-2 1/2 cups flour
    1/2 cup salt
    2-2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon                            
    water (as much as needed)        
    * Not to be eaten! *

    Combine flour, salt and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl and gradually add enough water to form a stiff, but flexible dough. Roll dough out to 1/2" thickness. With a sharp knife cut out the figure as shown above. Cut out two long narrow strips for arms and join at shoulders (wet surface to which arms will be applied). Make slits in dough for fingers.  Mark closed eyelids and noise with pointed object. Wipe entire figure down with a lightly dampened cloth to make shiny. Bake in moderate oven until golden.

    Confession & Kite Day


    Clean Monday is the very first Monday which begins Great Lent, and it is a quite somber day on the spiritual calendar. In Greece, it is customary for young and old to fly kites. Let's bring this wonderful custom here in America, possibly the day or two beforehand, with the following activity.

    On the Sunday evening before we begin Great Lent, there is always held the Vespers of Forgiveness where each parishioner asks the priest and one another for forgiveness. It marks the beginning of a great journey in which we embark to clean our souls of the darkness built up from our sins. Consider gathering your youth (ages 2-18) and even their parents earlier that day, or the day before to set aside for Confession and Kite Flying!

    The younger children can prepare and experience Confession as a group with the priest, who can speak with them openly about the topic of sin and all can kneel under the "epitrahelion" for the final absolution to conclude, whereas the older kids can prepare their confession ahead of time and meet with the priest one on one. As each group finishes, we all meet outside to hand out free kites and experience the "joy" of a soul released to soar, free and lightened from the burden of sin!

    Here is my simplified Top 10 Preparation List http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.de/2008/06/weight-of-our-sins.html 

    Additional Resources :
    http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/pr_confession.aspx

    Pamphlet with Questions for Preparation for Confession:
    http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/guide-to-confession.aspx

    Saturday, February 19, 2022

    Akathist from Alpha to Omega


    This Akathyst "poem" to Panagia has been lost in translation! In many English uses, the first letter of each stanza no longer coordinates with the Greek alphabet, sadly.

    Refresh your alphabet skills

    Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Eeta, Theeta, Iota, Kapa, Lamntha, Mee, Nee, Xee, Omikron, Pee, Ro, Sigma, Tauf, Eepsilon, Fee, Xee, Psee....Omega!

    Go back, and re-look at your Greek versions for you will find the author (could be St Romanos) wrote this hymn with each stanza corresponding to a letter in the Greek alphabet. The first ode begins with Alpha, and the remaining continue in order, until the last ode which beings with Omega. Purposefully done, I'm sure, as our Lord used these letters Himself to show us He is the Beginning and the End.

    At various Orthodox monasteries abroad, you may even find this famous and beloved hymn illustrated in Byzantine iconography. I've gathered and compiled a document to use with your parishes and youth showing just that. Click here to download the PDF for FREE. (Not to be sold or used for profit)

    * Update: the Sisters of the Lifegiving spring Monastery in Dunlap, CA have published a breathtaking children's book on this very topic! Support them below:*

    http://www.zoepress.us/life-giving-spring-monastery-products.html

    Tuesday, February 8, 2022

    St Mary Egypt Craft - Turn Life Around

    The powerful story of repentance that we find in the life of Saint Mary of Egypt which was recorded by the monk Zossimos, can be a memorable one for teenagers and college students. For the younger children though that you might be working with, consider this Orthodox craft:

    1. Color two images of Saint Mary of Egypt
    The first, from her former life possibly with brighter clothing, youthful skin, etc
    and the second after her years in the desert as an ascetic. I chose these two images because one depicts the humility needed to bring about repentance, and the second with hope and stronger faith, prepared to meet God at her death.

    2. Cut the images out

    3. Glue those images, back to back, with a popsicle stick in between

    4. Write the word "METANOIA" (or REPENTANCE) on the sticks with the definition "Turn one's life around" on the reverse side.

    As I retell the story, I'll ask the children to show me which side of her we're looking at. Then, we will literally, TURN HER LIFE AROUND, but rotating our sticks to see her as a transformed woman of God, one of the most memorable Saints of our Church.

    For more inspiration from her story, here is an excellent sermon in video form:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MC3tEQlqdGY&feature=youtu.be

    Talking Points to Remember:

    • She left home at 12 years old, to a live a life of sinfulness in the city, one which would not bring her happiness, but emptiness and distance from God.
    •  When God prevented her entrance into the Church to venerate the Cross of Christ, it was a BIG WAKE UP CALL, to stop and look at herself as unworthy, and in need of healing.
    • She did not flee to the desert to punish herself, but TO FIND HERSELF, that is, the true self that God created her to be, beautiful in His eyes.
    • She departed for the desert without much, but had one important thing: faith in God that He would provide for her daily food and shelter for 47 years.
    • Lastly, the four miracles show us that she became transformed and pleasing to God: she had the gift of clairvoyance and knew Father Zossimas' name before he told her, she was seen elevated off the ground in prayer, she walked on water to cross the river to receive the Holy Eucharist, and lastly, the lion was sent by God to help bury her.

    I suggest ending your lesson by reading together or silently this:



    St Ephrem the Syrian, Spiritual Psalter, 120:
    'How many times have I promised...'
    I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again...If a righteous man can barely be saved, then where will I end up, I who am lawless and sinful? If the path that leads to life is strait and narrow, then how can I be vouchsafed such good things, I who live a life of luxury, indulging in my own pleasures and dissipation? But Thou, O Lord, my Saviour, Son of the true God, as Thou knowest and desirest it, by Thy grace alone, freely turn me away from the sin that abides in me and save me from ruin.

    St Ephraim the Syrian resources
    Quote from 120th 'Psalm' in St Ephraim's Spiritual Psalter by our Holy Father St Ephraim of Edessa, the Syrian; excerpted and arranged by Bishop Theophan the Recluse according to the manner of the psalter of the Old Testament.
     


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