"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

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

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Pre-Christmas Parties

As Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Pre-Christmas parties are approaching with great popularity, for us, it is a frequent reminder to "stay the course" and focus on the calendar of the Church. We are Orthodox Christians living in secular societies, and although these conversations can be challenging with other PTA moms and co-workers, I thought I'd share how we at least try to respond. It's not worth it to get into debates about whether or not such activities have pagan roots, or if they are simply harmless celebrations of costumes and candy, of turkey, family and football. 

The only question to ask is:
Are we giving our children the best chance for a holy life?


We often go digging through trash to find a spark of something good to hang on to, especially, in order to justify our participation in events that our consciences speak otherwise about. This struggle can leave us troubled in our thoughts and souls, wondering if we did the right thing. I like to remove all doubt, and try to set up our kids for the best possible chance of success towards a holy life.

We can pay little attention to activities that we chose not to be part of. Giving more attention, subsequently, to the Church calendar and It's Saints. By doing this, we hope our children will grow to understand that as Orthodox Christians, we live out our faith without making exceptions here and there to fit in. We "fast" when others are "feasting", we look to the Saints as our super-hero's,  and celebrate the Divine Liturgy instead for the feasts below:
Oct 28 - Agia Skepi, Protection of the Theotokos
Nov 1st - Cosmas, Damianos, their Mother, also St. David of Euboia and St Eleni of Sinope
Nov 8 - St Nektarios
Nov. 9 - the Archangels
Nov 15 - Fast begins - Big day in our home!
We begin decorating and start our 40 Day Calendar
Nov 21 - Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple
Nov 25 - St Katherine the Great
Nov 26 - St Stylianos, Patron of Children
Nov 30 - St Andrew the Apostle
December is full of great Saints up until Christmas and beyond...

I ask myself...who has time for everything else with so many truly "holy days" approaching!

Root of Jesse Tree: Christmas Activity

The sayings of the prophets are now fulfilled!

Use this study to learn the prophecies of the Old Testament with your children and teenagers. (Download the free printable PDF file here, in color or black/white.) All verses are weaved into the hymns of the Orthodox Church and chanted during the Christmas services. The richness and depth of the season is remarkable!
     Complete this "Root of Jesse Tree" by first gluing the Mother of God in place, and adding a prophet as you study them with the verses below. The tradition of this icon can often be found with an image of Jesse reclining at the bottom of the icon as the root - the Mother of God becomes the "rod" who springs forth the "fruit" who is Christ (2nd century Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons, St Ambrose of Milan, and 8th c St Cosmas)

Here are the memory verses:
  • A shoot will come forth from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. ( Isaiah 11:1)
  • Her womb was foreshadowed by the burning bush that was not consumed  (Exodus 3:2)
  • The Lord has created a new thing upon the earth: A woman shall compass a man (Jeremiah 31:22)
  •  Lord, the God of Israel has entered through the closed gate and it shall remain shut. (Ezekiel 44:2)
  •  Zion is our mother. a man shall say; and such a man was born in her: and the Most High Himself hath established her. (Psalm 87:5 David)
  • For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Therefore my Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the concealed one shall conceive and bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel (Isa 7:14)

Discuss the symbolism & titles of Mary in the items that each Prophet carries:

Jacob: the Ladder (Genesis 28:12)
King David: the Ark of salvation
Aaron: the Rod/staff that budded fruit
Isaiah:  the Staff/Whip (10:26, 36:6)
Daniel: the Mount (2:35, 2:45)
Gideon: the Rock (Judges 6:20)
Moses: the Burning bush
Soloman: the Veil of the Temple 
Ezekiel: Gate of Life (Ezekiel 44:3) expressed Four Gospels (explained)

Zachariah: the Lampstand (chapter 4)


Read more excellent quotes of the Fathers here: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Root_of_Jesse

Friday, October 18, 2019

Christmas Bible Verse Craft


  1. God is with us (Matthew 1:23)
  2. All the Earth worships Thee (Psalm 66:4)
  3.  His name shall endure forever (Psalm 72: 17)
  4. He is our God, the God of salvation (Psalm 68:20)
  5. There shall come a Star out of Jacob (Numbers 24:17)
  6. He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-21)
  7. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6)
  8. He said, “Thou art My Son; on this day have I begotten Thee” (Psalm 2:7)
  9. We have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him (Matthew 2:2)
  10. You will find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger (Luke 2:12)
  11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11)
  12. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14)
  13. The Angels cried out, Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men (Luke 2:14) 
  14. He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
  15.  Amen.

Print these 15 versus from the Bible out on different colors of paper, or at a minimal on green construction paper. Cut them into strips with a paper cutter, trim the lengths, and ask your children or teens to glue them into the Christmas story tree to white or blue paper. If you have younger ones, you could always number the phrases, but even if the order gets rearranged, it still works. Have fun learning holy scripture! To download the PDF file, click here:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

10 Fun Facts About Angels


"Whom Christ loves, His angels love too." St. Nicholai of Zica (1880-+1956)

One often says the youngest of children can see the angels in the Orthodox Church, chasing them through the pews. You may have even read of holy priests encountering angels in the altar. Most of us however, have lost our innocence and the ability to see such visions, unless God so chooses. Angels are mostly referred to as the "invisible" of God's created beings! However, they are not "unknown" as their actions stand alone as proof of their existence and service to our Lord. Learn more below!

http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/11/synaxis-of-archangels-michael-and.html______________________________________________________________________________

1. Angels have two roles: the first is in Heaven to glorify God, and the second on earth to carry out God's orders concerning men.

2. The word "angel" itself means herald or messenger.

3. How many are there? The great Daniel saw God on His throne-and a thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and 10,000 x 10,000 stood before Him (Chapters 9 & 10).

4. Their types? There are nine ranks of angels. Thrones, dominions, principalities, seraphim's, cherubim's, powers, sovereignties, archangels, and angels.

5. The names of Archangels? Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salathiel, Barachiel, Jeremiel, Jegudiel.

6. Angels are different than us because they are bodiless and invisible. They don't need to eat or drink, nor do they need clothes or shelter. They don't get married and they have no worries about the future, or fear of death. God created them good and holy.

7. Angels are like us because they have names and personalities. They are individuals with intelligence, emotions, free will and the capacity to act.

8. In the Bible and Holy Tradition, angels have done many marvelous things! Archangel Michael guarded Paradise, an angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire, Three Angels appeared to Abraham giving us an image of the Holy Trinity, an Angel saved the three youths in Babylon from death in the midst of the burning fiery furnace, Archangel Gabriel nourished Panagia as a child living in the Holy of Holies and later brought to her the news of Christ's incarnation, Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias (the father of St. John the Baptist) to announce the coming of his son, an angel appeared at Christ's tomb to announce His Resurrection, an angel of the Lord opened the jail cells of the Apostles, the angels will create a throne for our Lord Jesus Christ at His second coming.

9. Our Orthodox Church has dedicated Monday to the holy angels. Therefore, every Monday in the church services we are reminded of the holy angels with praise and prayer: We say "Holy Archangels and Angels, pray to God for us."

10. Everyone Orthodox Christian receives a guardian angel at the time of Baptism and asks for its intercession before God with the following prayer,

"O Holy Angel of God, guardian and protector of my soul and body, forgive me every transgression which I have committed this day. Deliver me from all evil influences and temptations, so that I may not anger my God by any sin. Pray for me that the Lord may make me worthy of His grace and to become partaker of His eternal Kingdom with the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of all the Saints. Amen."

St. Basil the Great says: "The angel will not retreat from us, unless we drive him away by our evil deeds."

________________________________________________________________________________

For more in-depth info on angels, see the article compiled by Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes at http://fr-d-serfes.org/orthodox/angels.htm

St Theophan the Recluse Homily on Prayer

"...what the Angels and saints do in the heavens, we should learn to do on earth: get used to the angelic, unceasing standing before God in our hearts. Only he who reaches this state is a true man of prayer."

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Christmas Crossword



********REVISED**********

Click on the crossword puzzle
to the right for a little
Christmas trivia!
Located for free download here.

Hopefully, it will be challenging
for parents and kids of all ages.


"Make ready, O Bethlehem:
let the manger be prepared,
let the cave show its welcome. The truth has come, the shadow has passed away..."


Sticheron at the Royal Hours
by St Sophronius of Jerusalem

Sunday, June 9, 2019

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:

Monday, May 13, 2019

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:

Ascension Orthodox Worksheet

Download and print this worksheet for the upcoming feast of the Ascension of Christ.
We will discuss how Christ appeared for the forty day period after Pascha, but at different times in different ways. It is a great opportunity to also identify the Apostles with their names and countries to which they preached. This of course, if the post-Pascha story, where the disciples go out into the world as the WITNESSES of Christ and His Resurrection.

This worksheet is our 27th entry in our Orthodox Journal Project which can be found here along with all of the documents needed to participate!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

12 Apostles Activity


For the 'Apostles fast' in the Orthodox Church, and here's an activity to assemble the icon day by day until the feast on June 29/30. On the first day, the children will cut out and glue the icon of Christ in the center of the Tree, learning the memory verse, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." from John 15:5. Each day(s) to follow, focus on one Apostle at a time, reading their life, learning their experiences and placing them on the icon. Each has a troparion as well to chant!

Click here to download the smaller icons

Click here for the tree document. 

Once the tree is colored by the children, it can be laminated, along with the icons.  We have placed velcro on the backsides, and the children re-attach the icons each year during the fasting period. 

Saints Peter & Paul celebrated on June 29 (fast ends)

Synaxis of the Twelve Holy Apostles, celebrated June 30: Peter, Andrew, James & John the sons of Zebedee, Phillip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Jude(Thaddaeus) the brother of James, Simon & Matthias


Purchase the book "The Lives of the Holy Apostles" here from the Holy Apostles Convent in Colorado
 

Teaching Points:
1. The "Apostle" - The term "apostle" ("apostolos" in Greek; a derivative from "apostellein", meaning "to send") signifies a special mission or "one who is sent."
 
2. Why Christ chose 12? We read from Mark 3: 14,15
"He ordained twelve that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach and to have power to heal sickness and to cast out devils." Twelve was the number of the twelve sons of Jacob who later became the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel.  After Pentecost, Christ’s 12 disciples became the leaders of the “new Israel.” The number 12 was considered so important that very shortly after the falling of Judas Iscariot, the remaining 11 voted in a new Apostle by the name Matthias, so that there would be 12 once again

3. Why are they men? A symbol of the ordained priesthood of men and of Christ's own gender, however, remembering that later on the Church honors other female Saints with the title "Equal-to-the Apostles," without showing any discrimination in gender, rather only designated roles.


4. What they each hold? Notice the scrolls from the icon of Pentecost, which the figure "Kosmas" holds representing the people of the world living in darkness and sin, and involved in pagan worship. The scrolls represent the teaching of the Apostles of the Holy Gospel which they carried as a message  to all parts of the world. Try to find the Evangelists, who hold an open Gospel book, or Saint Paul who holds a collection of letters.

5. How the Tree extends? The Apostles organized the converts and formed what we know today to be the One, Holy, Apostolic Orthodox Church, who has kept the Holy Tradition of Apostolic succession. In other words, each and every ordained priest of the Orthodox Church can trace his authority back to one of the Apostles, through each Bishop and Patriarch. This continuation is nothing short of a miracle of the Holy Spirit and of Christ's promise. 

Today, every baptized Orthodox Christian has been grafted into this Tree, as Saint Paul spoke of in
the book of Romans, chapter 11, " If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,..."
Gigi Baba Shadid | Fruits of the Spirit

SONG activity:  If you are able, try learning the Troparion for the feast. Another fun idea to help learn the names of the disciples by heart, is from the CD by Khouria Gigi   TRACK 9. It's a family favorite of ours!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Preparing for Pentecost


Christ is Risen! But then what?
The story continues of course, with more exciting details and events to engage our young listeners. Christ spends the next 40 days displaying His physical Resurrection. He appears in the upper room to the Apostles twice when the doors are sealed shut, granting them peace. He is seen along the road to Emmaus, but unrecognizable to Luke and Cleopa, until He breaks bread with them and is known essentially in the Eucharist (see the lesson plan here). Then at the fortieth day on Mt Olivet the disciples with the Mother of God, stand in awe as Christ is taken up before their own very eyes into the sky with the angels at His side on His return to the Father (The Ascension). What could possibly come next for the followers of Christ.....they must wait ten more days!

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you”

Click this link for the printable lesson: Pentecost Worksheet & Kneeling Prayers

The great feast of Holy Pentecost- "peninta" or 50 days after the Resurrection

Be sure to connect for your young people the Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel. They'll probably remember well that God "mixed up" the languages to stop the wicked plans of the people. Now, in the story of Pentecost, God is doing the opposite. He sent the gift of languages, for this one time purpose, to spread the good plan of His salvation to the whole world.

..."Grant to my thoughts the Spirit of your wisdom, to my folly the Spirit of understanding, with the Spirit of your fear overshadow my deeds. Renew a right Spirit within my inward parts and make firm the instability of my mind with the sovereign Spirit, so that guided each day by your good Spirit to what is profitable, I may be found worthy to do your commandments and always keep in mind your Coming, which searches out all that we have done..."

*** Print the kneeling prayers with you on Pentecost Sunday  ***

International Orthodoxy


This is a favorite project of ours and fitting for just after Pascha as the disciples were commanded to..."Go and preach the Gospel to all nations"

As a global Orthodox project, I recorded fellow classmates from an Orthodox seminary chanting "Lord Have Mercy" in their native languages. With a large map, I ask the children to identify the country of origin and language for each track... together we try to learn 10 new languages! You can also quiz them with the handout, to see if they can match up the language with the countries.

Also Click here for an International Vespers Service

(Swahili) Bwana Hurumia

(Albanian) Meshiro o Zot

(Arabic) Yarrub Burham

(Kenyan) Mwanthani Igua Tha

(Greek) Kurie Eleison

(Slavonic/Russian) Ghospodi Pomiliu

(Spanish) Senor Ten Piedad 

(Romanian) Doam Neme Lueshte
(German) Herr, erbarme dich

(English) Lord have mercy

Monday, April 15, 2019

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!



Sunday, April 14, 2019

Lazarus - 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

Monday, April 8, 2019

Holy Week for Kids

Anyone with kids knows that Holy Week can be a challenging yet extremely rich experience!  Although the night services postpone bed time, we try to remember, it's just for one week, and nothing else quite seems to matter. Yes, the services can be long, so this post is dedicated to the "something special" in each night that makes it all worth it for young and old. Here's our list of things not to miss with your kids and teens ~

Palm Sunday Morning- Find the kids worshiping Christ in this icon and hold your palms proudly like them for the procession. How do we greet a King? Who is our KingRECITE: "Hosanna in the Highest. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord"


Palm Sunday Evening - ACTION:Kneel for the Procession of the icon of Christ as the Bridegroom when the priest brings Christ out from the Holy altar for the first time.

Holy Monday- Light a candle in the dark serenity of  this service. ACTION: Bow down to make 3 full prostrations in front of the Bridegroom icon of Christ.

Holy Tuesday- RECITE: Memorize beforehand and listen for the verse "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh in the middle of the night, and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching" PRACTICE:  handwriting this phrase, or copying / tracing it as a memory verse.

Holy Wednesday/Thursday MorningDraw near to receive the Holy Body and Blood of Christ while commemorating His Last Supper and the beginning of this Life-giving Sacrament. Find the "one sided profile of Judas in the icon" which symbolized his two-facedness. Discuss this betrayal with your kids

Holy Wednesday Evening- COUNT: 7 Readings for 7 Candles, Try fasting before receiving Holy Unction from a certain point in the afternoon; often we forget this is a Sacrament of our Church. (Some Priests also wash the children's feet - try this at home for the experience!)

Holy ThursdayTake the chance to bow before, kneel and kiss our Lord on the Cross. TASTE: vinegar with your own kids as the soldier offered Christ on the Cross when He thirsted.

Holy Friday Afternoon - Royal Hours - Witness or participate in the taking down of Christ from the Cross, identify in the icon who was involved (St Joseph of Arimathea & Nicodemus). Observe a period of silence and identify Christ's white burial cloth. Compare it to the white cloth of His manger at Christmas.

Holy Friday- Chant the memorable melody of the Lamentations, Join the Procession outside the Church, Pass under the Tomb, take home a flower, prepare your red eggs

Holy Saturday Morning - Ring a small bell and throw the bay leaves, save one in your book! Chant the words of the 3 Youths (Shadrach, Meshach and Abendago). Hold hands dancing in a circle as your practice singing this again and again "Praise Ye the Lord and Exalt Him Forever"

Holy Saturday Evening - Experience a great celebration at Midnight - See the Church go dark, and witness the light of Christ illuminating all! Share your light with others - Plan to receive the Holy Eucharist of the Resurrected Christ after midnight, return home to crack your eggs and taste the traditional lamb soup mageritsa. Take the holy fire home to re-light your vigil lamps!

Holy Sunday - Ask to read the Gospel in a different language, which is a tradition that conveys the  "good news" spreading to the whole world.

Bright Week  - Practice saying "Christ is Risen" (click link)  in as many languages as you can learn!

If you parish plans other additional opportunities for the youth, please share! I have witnessed Holy Friday Retreats with activities and lessons, Holy Week Scrap booking , others ask the children and teens to decorate the Epitaphion (Tomb),  in some parishes, girls of innocence and purity dressed in white sprinkle rose petals during the procession with the Tomb,  others show a video from the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem , and an all time favorite, one parish taught the children the hymn for Palm Sunday and the children lined up to create a passage way for the Entrance with the Gospel chanting and waving their palms!

How precious it is to see them involved! Our kids may not be awake, but they can still go home smelling like incense, which in some small way, reminds us of the unseen blessings we all receive just by being in there.

Sunday, April 7, 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!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Saint Mary of Egypt Lesson & Worksheet

Download and print for free this handout with your students to learn both the story of Abba Zosima and Saint Mary of Egypt. Her life is yearly commemorated on April 1st and also the 5th Sunday of Great Lent before Palm Sunday.

Her life conveys a very important message which is central to our struggle of Great Lent:

"Every Sinner can become a Saint!"

The PDF can be found here along with the other pages of our Orthodox Kids Journals.

You can find my craft for St Mary of Egypt here:

 

Monday, April 1, 2019

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


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