"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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Thursday, June 3, 2021

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!

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, June 2, 2021

St Photini Samaritan Woman at the Well

Here you will find a worksheet to download for our Orthodox Christian Journal Project on a beloved Saint, Photini, the Samaritan Woman at the well whom the Orthodox Church commemorates on February 26th.

Remember, as you read the Gospel account, her story is
most important because it records Jesus Christ confessing Himself to be the Messiah for a Gentile, in particular.

Often, people outside the faith ask, "Well, where exactly does Christ say that He is God?" We can point to Matthew 11:11.

In her life, we find fertile ground to receive Christ and where the ground is ready, the seed will be planted to bear much fruit! She went on to be Equal-to-the-Apostles in her courage to proclaim Him to the world, as well as, ultimately a Great Martyr around the year 66 A.D.

Friday, April 23, 2021

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 22, 2021

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 Greetings in 59 Languages

Practice your Paschal greetings in 59 languages!

Pascha Languages
Be sure to print and save this one!

I share with you also this resource page to
reflect on the numerous uses of the word PASCHA
in Holy Scripture, which helps to support why as Orthodox Christians we should avoid the use of the word "Easter" 

Let us be set apart from the world in this way,
and bear witness to the Gospel which is our risen Lord Jesus Christ, the Paschal Lamb!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

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

Monday, April 19, 2021

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.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

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, April 16, 2021

Holy Week for Teens and Children

If you are looking for ideas for Holy Week in your parish, here are two of my favorites.


Gather a collection of videos of the Holy Fire in Jerusalem.  That miracle is one many of our kids have never heard..and the miracle continues each year!

On the Eve of the Resurrection, inside the tomb of Christ in Jerusalem, the Holy Fire descends on the Patriarch of Jerusalem from within the Holy Sepulcher and believers pass the light around to all the faithful, who usually hold 33 candles bound together, to signify the 33 years of Christ's ministry on the Earth. The fire is miraculously given but also miraculous in nature, because it does not burn, just as Moses and the Burning bush. Believers have proved this by passing their hands through the fire, beards and faces...as many photos show. It's color is different than normal too, with more of a white-blue hue. The Holy Fire also bounces around like no light show ever manipulated by machines! Pilgrims have seen the Fire ignite unlit oil lamps on It's own and despite the efforts by many Muslims to seal the tomb with wax beforehand, and thorough searches of the Patriarch before entering, the Holy Fire still comes!

There are many articles available as well, some better than others...



Search YouTube for videos and compile the best clips for your own presentation.


Pair everyone up (with same gender) for a "piggy-back" contest.
For younger ones, use backpacks instead and add heavy items like staplers, stones.

The idea is to get them to try carrying around a lot of weight, to see how long they can go...before needing to release the "burden of our sins" They are not moving around, but rather standing in one place in one large room.

During the time period, you could ask various teens to read aloud the Gospel accounts of Christ's judgment before Pilate, Crucifixion, and burial in the Tomb. After the final pair has surrendered to sitting down, you discuss how it felt, what their thoughts were, how heavy was the weight for them, and at what point did they want help? What delayed them surrendering? Often, it is our pride that keeps us away from God, because we want to go about life on our own, until we finally accept God's help because we have reached or limit.

Explain that Confessing our sins is exactly this same concept...of finding relief in the sacrifice that Christ made once and for all. When we experience the weight of sin in our lives,
there is nothing to help us remember God's love for us better than experiencing Confession.

When I did this activity, I showed them the Prayer of Absolution from the Sacrament of Confession, where our priests, through the grace bestowed on them from their ordination, with the stole over our head, and us kneeling, absolves our sins.

This activity lead into a personal reflection time to prepare to confess their own sins troubling them. See the 10 Tools for preparing, or print this reflection list located here...http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/selfexam.aspx. Ask if your priest is available during the afternoon to hear their confessions. I would encourage everyone to go to a personal Confession, however, even if only 5 teens go, it's absolutely worth it.

During down time, young people could help decorate the Tomb with flowerings and crawl under it
in the shape of a cross (which is an old custom)

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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

Sunday, April 4, 2021

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

+ + +

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

Monday, March 8, 2021

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, March 4, 2021

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 :

Pamphlet with Questions for Preparation for Confession:

Monday, March 1, 2021

Proskomedia in the Orthodox Eucharist

Here is a step by step guide to the Proskomedia (Offering) which is completed during Orthros or Matins before the Divine Liturgy begins.

1. After strengthening himself through a few prayers and venerating the icons, the priest enters the Holy Altar and kisses the Gospel and Altar Table in preparation to celebrate the Divine Liturgy.

2. Next, he puts on his full set of vestments, blessing and kissing each item while reciting a matching Scripture verse.

3. The priest then washes his hands, thus expressing his desire to be more cleansed of his sins, while reciting Psalm 26:6-12. "I will wash my hands among the innocents, and so will I go around Thy Altar, O Lord..."

4. Next, he bows 3x before the Prothesis, or table used for the Proskomedi, and prays "O God, cleanse me, a sinner, and have mercy on me" (Luke 18:13)

5. The priest then selects one of the prosphora breads to hold in his left hand, while using his right hand for the lance. He touches the lance on the seal, elevating them both to the level of his head and says, "Thou hast redeemed us from the curse of the law by Thy precious Blood. Nailed on the Cross and pierced with a spear, Thou hast bestowed immortality upon mankind. O Savior, glory to Thee."

6. He makes the sign of the Cross over the Credence with the prosphora and lance saying "Blessed is our God, always, now and forever and from all ages to all ages." Then 3 x the priest makes the sign of the Cross with the lance over the seal, saying each time "In remembrance of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 11:24, Luke 22:19)

7. Next the priest cuts out a portion of bread from the central part (IC XC = Jesus Christ prevails) of the prosphora's seal in the shape of a cube, called "Amnos" or Lamb, which at first represents the Body of Christ and into which it later changes. Thrusting the lance into the right side of the seal (priest's left) he says, "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter."

8. Then thrusting the lance into the left side, he says, "And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb, so He opens not His mouth."

9. The priest also thrusts the lance into the upper part of the seal, saying "In His humiliation justice was denied Him."

10. Finally, thrusting the lance into the lower part of the central square, he recites the word of the prophet, who contemplated the wondrous origin or lineage of the condemned Lamb; "Who shall declare his generation?" 

11. Then the priest inserts the lance beneath the seal and lifts up the "Lamb" and places it on the center of the Paten saying, "For His Life is removed from the earth." This represents the separation of Christ from the flesh of the Virgin Mary.

12. Turning the "Lamb" downward, the priest makes with the lance a deep crosswise cut as a sign of Christ's death on the Cross and says, "The Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world, is sacrificed for the life and the salvation of the world" (John 1:29, 1 John 2:2)

13. Next, the priest turns the "Lamb" upright and pierces it with the lance on the right side, marked 'NI', saying "One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he who saw it bore witness and his witness is true" (John 19:34)

14.The priest then pours wine and water into the Chalice; the he blesses them saying, "Blessed is the union of Thy Holy Gifts, always, now and forever and from all ages to all ages." This symbol of the blood and water which poured forth from Christ's side is what later becomes His Blood.

15. Additional portions are cut out in memory of the Saints, placing these pieces beside the "Lamb" on the Paten, since the saints had a burning desire to be everywhere with their Lord. The first triangle portion is in memory of the Theotokos, saying "In honor and  memory of our most Blessed and Glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary, through Whose intercessions do Thou O Lord, accept this Sacrifice upon Thy Heavenly Altar." This portion is placed on the right side of the "Lamb" (the priest's left) with this prophetic recitation, "On Thy right hand stood the Queen, clothed in vesture wrought with gold and arrayed in many colors" (Psalm 44:10).

The priest then cuts nine additional smaller triangles in memory of:

    1. The Archangels and Angels
    2. The Prophets
    3. The Apostles
    4. The Holy Fathers
    5. The Martyrs
    6. The Holy Ascetics
    7. The Holy Unmercenaries
    8. The Ancestors of our Lord, Joachim & Anna, Saint of Day
   9.  Saint whose Liturgy is celebrated

All these portions are placed in three columns on the left side of the "Lamb."

Next, the priest cuts a big portion of bread out which he cuts little particles for living persons: The Archbishop, bishops, priests, deacons, etc, and for those names offered with the prosphoras. Also for the departed, praying for the remission of their sins. Lastly for himself, saying "Remember, O Lord, my unworthiness and forgive all my sins, both voluntary and involuntary."
These pieces are placed below the "Lamb" on the Paten.

Finally, the priest goes back in time to Christ's Birth, remembering when the star shone above the Child and the wisemen offered to Christ the incense, in order to bless the incense with this prayer, "Incense we offer Thee, O Christ our God, as an odor of spiritual fragrance. Do Thou accept is at Thy Heavenly Altar and send down upon us the Grace of Thy Holy Spirit." He censes the Asterik, which he places on the Paten saying, "And the star came and stood over the place where the Child was." (Matthew 2:9)

The priest continues to incense 2 small veils, one for the Paten and one for the Chalice, then the large veil over both, reciting "The Lord is reigning, He is clothed with Majesty; The Lord has clothed with strength wherewith He was girded Himself." (Psalm 93) "Thy virtue, O Christ, has covered the Heavens, and the earth is full of Thy praise. Cover us under the shelter of Thy wings; drive away from us every enemy and adversary; give us a peaceful life; O Lord, have mercy on us and on Thy world, and save our souls, for Thou art Good and Compassionate. Blessed art Thou, O our God, Who art thus well pleased; glory to Thee, always now and forever and from all ages to all ages."

The Proskimidi is concluded with this prayer

"O God, our God, Who has sent us the Heavenly Bread, the Food of the entire world, our Lord and our God Jesus Christ, to save us, to ransom us, to do us good, to bless and sanctify us; do Thou Thyself bless this offering and accept it at Thine Altar above the Heavens. Remember in Thy Goodness and loving kindness both those who brought this offering, and those for whom they brought it; and keep us blameless in the celebration of Thy Holy Sacraments; for Holy and glorious is Thy name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, always, now and forever and from all ages to all ages. Amen."

The Chalice and Paten are uncovered as a sign of the Resurrection of Christ just before the worshipers recite the Nicene Creed during the Divine Liturgy. The Holy Gifts are later consecrated separately because Christ's Body and Blood were separated in His death upon the Cross.

After the Lord's Prayer is recited, and the people proclaim "One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen." the priest then breaks the Lamb which by this time has become the Body of Christ into four pieces. This signifies the Lord's suffering and bruising on the Cross. The four pieces are arranged in the form of a cross. He takes the portion marked "IC" makes teh sign of the cross over the chalice, and a s a symbol of the reuniting of our Lord's soul and body at the time of the Resurrection, he places it in the chalice saying,
"The fullness of the Cup of the Faith and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

The priest blesses the container of boiling water, adding hot water to the Chalice saying,
"The  ardor of Faith, full of the Holy Spirit. Amen." He partakes of the Body still on the Paten and then drinks the Blood saying "This hath touched my lips, and shall take away mine iniquities and purge away my sins,"  before adding all portions into the Chalice  to distribute to the faithful baptized Orthodox Christians who have properly  prepared. Prayers of thanksgiving are read by not only the priests afterward, but properly so, by everyone who received.

May this text taken from a small book by Rev. Father Nicholas Elias be fruitful to all who read it. If you have the opportunity, ask your parish priests to invite the children to surround a small table for the Proskomedi Service, outside the Altar as part of a Teaching Liturgy.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Uprooting Passions in Children

"Do not neglect to uproot from the hearts of children the tares of sins, impure, evil and blasphemous thoughts, sinful habits, inclinations and passions; the enemy and the sinful flesh do not spare even children; the seeds of all sins are to be found in children too; show them the danger of sin on the path of life; do not hide sins from them lest through ignorance and want of comprehension they should be confirmed in sinful habits and attachments, which grow stronger and stronger and bring forth corresponding fruits when the children grow up." - St. John of Kronstadt

As parents and youth workers we face a common task to raise the children that God gave us in a holy manner. But correcting bad behaviors, and offering discipline is one of the areas most difficult, especially when we ourselves are struggling with our own passions like anger, lack of compassion, and little patience.

The good news is that every child created in His image has His grace, which acts as a checks and balance system within the conscience. However, children who grow up without confirmation from parents or other adults can become very confused. They test the waters, but cannot swim in the deep end of the pool without sinking, often without the spiritual tools to stay afloat.

Elder Porphyrios taught that, "Our religion wants children to learn the truth from an early age." He stated, "You must tell the truth for a person to learn it. Otherwise you sustain him in ignorance... so to a child you must tell the truth and scold it so that it knows what it is doing is not good."
He offers these suggestions as well, "The medicine and great secret for children's progress is humility... The children who come from humble parents do not get angry when their error is pointed out, but rather they try to correct it and pray that God may help them not to become egoists...Children should learn to seek God's help in everything."

For further reading, check out these 6 (edited) steps listed by St Tikhon in more depth at http://fr-d-serfes.org/orthodox/parents.htm

1. Remind them often of holy Baptism and that at that time they promised God to live decently and steadfastly, to serve Him with faith and righteousness, and to keep away from every evil and sin.

2. Repeat to them that we live not for this temporal life, for honor, glory, and riches in this world.

3. Let them understand Who is the God of Christians, and what He requires of us, that He hates evil and loves good...and to do what is pleasing to Him.

4. Enlighten their inward eyes as to Who Christ is and to our own sinfulness.

5. Teach them the Law of God, and tell them what the Law demands of us: That is, that we should love God and every man; and truly repent and correct ourselves for the day of Judgment.

6. Set before them the last things: death, Christ's judgment, eternal life, and eternal torment, that the fear of God may so abide in them and preserve them from every evil. Pour these and other things like milk into their young hearts, that they may mature in piety.

"Lord Jesus Christ, give Your light to my children. I entrust them to You. You gave them to me, but I am weak and unable to guide them, so, please illuminate them." - Prayer by Elder Porphyrios

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Craft Blankets for Charity

If you and your kids/teens are looking for a great hands-on project to occupy a weekend, consider making these very easy fleece blankets. They're a fantastic service project to pass out to homeless folks along the streets as the temperature drops, or donate to another charity of your choice, and the best part is that we get to be creative doing it!

Here are a few easy steps to follow with no sewing required!

• Visit the fabric store with your kids/teens to pick out and purchase fleece. You can vary the design by picking two different colors or patterns. The size of your blanket is up to you.

• To begin, cut two pieces of fleece material, exactly the same size.

• Lay your two pieces of fleece out on a table, back to back.

• At each corner, cut out a four inch square from the edge.

• Next, cut fringes around the entire outer edge of the fabric that are four inches long, one inch wide. You can 'eye-ball' this or use a yardstick for help.

• When you are finished, start at one corner and begin to tie the fringe of the two layers together in a double knot until completing the entire blanket.

* TIP: For a two-colored blanket alternate your knots by passing one fringe under and over, then reverse it for the next knot.

This project can be paired up with an Orthodox lesson as well. We made red & orange blankets to accompany the story of the 3 Holy Youths in the fire; Shadrach, Mishach, and Abendago. When it came time to donate them, our group decided to send them to the Orthodox fire victims in Greece.

To tailor your blankets for a worldwide cause, visit www.iocc.org http://www.orthodoxyouthoutreach.net/ or www.ocmc.org for ideas.

Can anyone crafty out there suggest a way to add-on a Cross, Icon, or Orthodox decal?

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Prosforo Workshop & Puzzle Activity

As we draw near to Christ, we often ask what gift can we offer to Him, especially a tangible one for our children to make. It is easy to overlook and under value the simple things that we can do with our own hands. If we are attending Church, one of the greatest offerings we can bring to Christ is the bread used to become His Holy Body. "Prosforo" literally means offering, as in offering a gift....perfect for Christmas! See the lesson below for Scripture quotes and ingredient significance.

Many of you may have held Prosforo workshops before at your parishes. Great! Do it again and again - the kids love it! Next time, arrange a few of the following activities to enhance the experience:
  • NEW Lesson Plan & Puzzle activity of the Proskomidi: located here where each child cuts and glues the pieces of the Seal to understand their significance.
  • NEW book from Potamitis Publishing "Yiayia and the Prosphoron" located here in many languages
  • Book "The Woman and the Wheat" located here
  • As each child presses the seal onto the loaf, ask them to repeat out loud the Jesus Prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have Mercy on Me, a Sinner."
  • We always begin with a prayer and the children incense the whole kitchen! Some have never held charcoal in a tweezers before - it's great hands on fun!
  • Before finishing, write the first names of those Orthodox Christians that the children would like to pray for to be given to the priest along with the Prosforo for commemoration.
  • Lastly, don't forget that the Prosforo bread needs to arrive at the beginning of Orthros/Matins so get it there even Saturday night for the Vespers service.
Christ said "I am the Bread of Life and whomever eats of it shall never hunger."

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Lady Sarakosti Poem & Coloring for Great Lent

This year, we painted on food coloring before baking. Give it a try! 
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.

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