"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

Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Soul Healed through Sickness

A tremendous Orthodox Christian resource on illness in English is available now at www.newromepress.com

"Today, despite the remarkable progress of medical science, the number of people who are ill is increasing and new diseases and illnesses continue to make their appearance. Almost every family has previously experienced or is currently going through the pain and ordeal of an illness and therefore it can be helpful to examine the causes of illness and how they may be faced spiritually so that those who so suffer may reap some benefit for their souls. As we shall see, illness, whether it is due to sin or to some other cause, is a means by which the soul can be healed and purified."

Canon for a Sick Child & Understanding Sickness

As parents and youth workers, this small Orthodox Canon empowers us 
by giving us the words to offer to our Lord during trials of sickness. I wish I could make the whole things available online for free, especially during recent viruses. Here's a sample, and I encourage you to purchase it from any of the several vendors online. (It is published by St. Paisios Monastery in Arizona with the blessing of the Serbian Hierarch.) 

++++++++   Canticle One  +++++++++

O Lord, show the power of Thy mercy!

O Lord, Thou Who arranges all for the salvation of mankind, receive my humble prayer for this child (name) who is being tried by illness and heal him (her), for Thou dost know his (her) sufferings. Permit him (her) not to suffer, O Lord, but raise him (her) quickly from this illness,
for Thou art good and the Lover of mankind.

O Lord, show the power of Thy mercy!

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, how great is the multitude of those whom Thou hast healed. The blind have obtained their sight, the deaf have received their hearing, the dumb have begun to speak, the lame have walked. Who has run to Thy help and not received healing?
We pray unto Thee: O Lord, heal this child who is suffering.

Friday, March 20, 2020

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~

    Thursday, March 19, 2020

    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!

    Wednesday, March 18, 2020

    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.


    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!

    Friday, March 13, 2020

    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.

    Sunday, March 8, 2020

    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.

    Thursday, February 27, 2020

    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.

    Saturday, February 1, 2020

    The "Orthodox Kids Journal Project"

    NEW: Introducing a free weekly curriculum to create Orthodox Christian Kids Journals about our  faith! Each week, come back to this website and download the handout to print yourselves.

    The handouts cover a topic from the Church year including quotes, miracle stories, maps, troparions, icons and Orthodox art.

    As we discuss the components of the lesson, students are actively listening while they color, cut, and glue a memorable resource to keep for the rest of their lives! Often, students contribute stories they have heard, or if they have that particular Saints' icon at home, or if they have ever venerated a relic, traveled to that country etc. This method proves to be a wonderful tool to create lasting beauty as students develop a greater understanding for the Orthodox Church year in the midst of open dialogue.

    Join with us and share! CLICK HERE

    Here are the files currently available to follow the Church year from September to May:

    Thursday, December 26, 2019

    Saints Synaxarion in English

    Wonderful news ! Our favorite series is being translated into English. If you haven't heard yet, visit https://www.newromepress.com/collections/youth to order "FRIENDS OF CHRIST" There are three volumes currently available - January, February and March. These hard bound and beautifully illustrated series follows the monthly Orthodox calendar of the lives of the Saints, sharing about five stories in each volume.The length of each story just seems to be perfect at keeping the attention of our 5 kids!

    St Basil: At a Time of Need

    Ayios Vasilios bears a title that few Saints share with him. He is known as "Saint Basil the Great." Some attribute this title to him because he organized cenobitic monasticism, or because he was a truly convicted bishop who preached thunderous sermons throughout Caesarea to defend Orthodoxy against the heresy of the Arians. Below, however, I share why he is considered "Great" in my mind.

    Two things convicted the heart of St Basil during his formative years. The first was when his younger brother  Naucratius, died, and then second was the influence of his elder sister Macrina, whose rock-like faith led her to join a community of religious women who served the poor, owned no personal items, slept on the ground, ate only enough to sustain them, and lived completely for God. 

    Saint Basil followed this example and experienced himself the ascetic life, before being ordained and recruited to defend the Church.

    He went on to address the rich "who let their wheat rot, while men die of hunger" during a time of great famine and natural disasters in this way. He said,
    "You refuse to give under the pretext that you haven't got enough for your own requirements. But while your tongue excuses, your hand condemns- that ring on your finger silently declares you to be a liar! How many debtors could be released from prison with one of those rings! How many ill-clad people could be clothed from only one of your wardrobes? And yet you turn the poor away empty-handed."
     Saint Basil spared no one....he said
    "You are poor? But there are others poorer than you. You have enough to keep you alive for ten days - but this man has only enough for one...Don't be afraid to give away that little that you have. Don't put your interests before the common need. Give your last loaf to the beggar at the door, and trust in the goodness of God."

    To inspire us all, here is a miracle story that follows the advice of Ayios Vasilios told by the humble priest Father Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos and abbreviated from his book.*

    On March 24, 1942 an aunt of mine lived in the city of Drama in Northern Greece with her five children. Then they were under Bulgarian occupation, and in a state of deprivation, disease and famine that reached dreadful proportions. Her husband had been killed, and there remained only a very small amount of olive oil and a handful of corn flour.

    On this the eve of the Anunciation, her eyes fell on the snuffed out vigil lamp which hanged in front of the icon stand. She was in a dilemma: Should the oil be given to the hungry children or remain in the icon stand with the icon of the Annunciation? With a sense of determination she made the sign of the Cross and told the All-Holy Mother of God:
    "My all-Holy Mother! I shall light the vigil lamp because the day which is breaking is of great significance to our faith; however, You take care and feed my children."
    She took the very little oil and lit the vigil lamp. Its joyous light illuminated the shabby home and her heart was filled with serenity. This sense of peace accompanied them in their nightly prayer, their sleep, and throughout that unforgettable night.

    The next day, after the Divine Liturgy, my aunt opened the kitchen cupboard in order to get the meager flour and she remained speechless. What did she see? The "oilcan" filled with oil all the way to the top, as well as two bagfuls of flour and spaghetti!

    The woman made the sign of the Cross many times, praising and thanking God and the Theotokos for this great miracle, but she did not say a word to anyone."

    + + +
    Life & Quotes of St Basil from **Evloyeite!  A Pilgrim's Guide to Greece; Mother Nektaria McLees. St Nicholas Press, 2002 available here**

    Miracle taken from **Experience duringt he Divine Liturgy: Protopresbyter Stephanos K. Anagnostopoulos. Piraeus 2008. Available for purchase in Greek and English here  **

    Wednesday, December 25, 2019

    Dwelling Place for Christmas

    The Nativity lenten season has begun...
    will God find an available "dwelling place" to be born?
    Will there be room at our inn?

    When He comes, as He did then to the city of Bethlehem, to knock on our doors....will there be room in our homes, in our hearts, and in the sometimes darkness of our lives for Panagia to lay and give birth to the giver of ever-lasting peace? What state will He find our caves in? Ready, asleep, or full to capacity with other things?

    You see, the cave is not only a physical place of historical importance, but a spiritual metaphor for each one of us. Isn't it also interesting that so many monks/nuns in our Orthodox tradition took up residence in an actual cave, where they decorated it with icons and burning vigil lamps living their lives in complete concentration and stillness. Hence, the "Light was born into darkness." Literally, and symbolically.

    How, might we ask, could God who is grander in size than any other "fit into" the smallness of our bodies and hearts? If He wanted to, couldn't He force out the things in His way to make room? Sure, He could, but He wouldn't. Instead, He invites us to do this work because it encourages a cooperation with Him. In fact, He asks that we do so, to put forth some effort.

    You see, the greatest of man's sins and the true opposite of love is not hate, but actually "indifference."  We simply ignore Him everyday, and pretend He's not there. Like when we pass someone poor, in need on the street, and pretend we don't see them, even though our hearts feel differently.

    If you choose and are willing try the following:

    • Give Him the greatest of gifts - your time and your attention. We do this by isolating ourselves in prayer, with the door shut behind us, and the television off. Eliminate all distractions.
    • Physically clean out space in your souls through fasting and confession. Even at the last hour if you have not yet done so, it is well worth it.
    • Lastly, shut out the consumerism and over commercialization of these holy days and fight to remain focused and available to Him. This has to be a conscientious choice.
    Any other suggestions? Please leave a comment!

    Wishing you and your families a truly joyful preparation this year of Christmas ~ 2014.

    Monday, October 28, 2019

    Sew-It 40 day Advent Orthodox Calendar

    Bravo to the ladies at "Draw Near Designs" for creating
    this beautiful Orthodox Advent Calendar tapestry. It's a sew-it-yourself project that is reasonably priced on Etsy and filled with Orthodox artwork. Check it out here to order in time for this years Nativity Fast!

    Tuesday, October 22, 2019

    Orthodox Handout Lesson for Christmas

    For our 'Orthodox Kids Journals,' (see this post) we will be adding the great feast of Christmas by using this handout. Join with us to study the Prophecies! Cut and glue an Orthodox Jesse Tree icon with the Mother of God bearing "the Light that sprang forth from the Tree of Jesse" along with a few coloring graphics and Bible memory quotes.

    The handouts can be downloaded for free here:
    and on GoogleDocs here

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