"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, June 16, 2014

12 Apostles Fast


To mark the beginning of today's fast for the 12 Apostles, we will be assembling this icon as a work in progress until the feast on June 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. Tomorrow and each day to follow, we will focus on one Apostle at a time, placing them on the icon as we learn each Saint's troparion.

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 in no particluar order. 

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
 

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!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

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 shows what we would call "superhuman" qualities! He appears in the upper room to the Apostles twice when the doors are sealed shut. He is seen along the road to Emmaus, but in some sort of disguise to Luke and Cleopa, until He breaks bread with them and is recognized essentially in the Eucharist (see the lesson plan here). Then forty days later 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. What could possibly come next for the followers of Christ?

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

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

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.

*** This year, bring the kneeling prayers with you on Pentecost Sunday to follow along ***

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

St George Skit & Coloring Page

While enjoying the light of  Pascha for 40 days, don't forget that there are still many great Saints on the calendar to learn about! Coming up tomorrow April 23rd is the great martyr Saint George, who bears the title trophy-bearer in English.
The Dragon
Traveling on a white horse (Saint Demetrios is on the red horse), the soldier Saint George met a young girl, a local princess chosen by lot, who was about to be offered as food for the hungry dragon who threatened a certain town in Libya. He encouraged the maiden to have faith in Christ whom she did not know yet, and dropped to his knees in prayer, asking God to use that opportunity for others to believe in Him as the One True God. Upon meeting the dragon face to face, he made the sign of the cross, and the dragon fell like a meek puppy at the feet of the Saint. He instructed the girl to take her belt off and use it as a leash for the dragon
His Suffering
The Saint openly confessed himself as a Christian, and for that faced many tortures. He bore the weight of a large stone on his chest, was stretched on a wheel of knives, was buried in a pit with only his head above ground for three days and three nights, and was given a poisonous potion to drink from a magician. From all this, God healed and preserved him. When the Saint raised a boy from the dead through his prayer to God, the Empress Alexandra, wife of Diocletian, converted to Christianity. The furious Emperor imprisoned the Saint and beheaded Him in 303 AD. (Can you find those scenes below in his vitae icon?)
His Appearances
God continues to work miracles through the Saint, even until today. About fifteen years ago a generous man in Syria came to Germany to build a "home" as he was instructed for someone whom he saw in a vision. The Syrian man met our priest on the street corner who was exhausted and ready to give up building our Church because the money ran out. After an explanation and a large gift from the Syrian man, the Church was completed, bearing the name and icon of Saint George. The man finally recognized who spoke to him in the vision when he came face to face with the Saint George's icon!

Video located here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu6egtZcun0

Try ST GEORGE'S SKIT located here:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/90523467

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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

Palm Sunday Evening - Kneel for the Procession of the icon of Christ as the Bridegroom

Holy Monday- Light a candle in the dark serenity of  this service

Holy Tuesday- 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"

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

Holy Wednesday Evening- Count 7 Readings or 7 Candles, Try fasting before receiving Holy Unction, (Some Priests also wash the children's feet)

Holy ThursdayTake the chance to bow before, kneel and kiss our Lord on the Cross. Even offer vinegar for your own kids to smell and taste 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.

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)

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.

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"  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.

Holy Week for Teens and Children

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

1) HOLY FIRE IN JERUSALEM


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...

http://www.holyfire.org/eng/

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2007-04-07-holyfire_N.htm

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


2) CONFESSION ACTIVITY
http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.com/2008/06/weight-of-our-sins.html

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)


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, Mary Magdalene (whom by the way is often wrongly attributed as the prostitute who anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair - See 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 but also for His divinity

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

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
You can write on eggs with melted wax, then dip them in red dye, and afterward, burn off the wax to reveal the design underneath.

This worksheet is available in PDF format here

Pascha Basket

Avoiding Easter bunnies? Try making an Orthodox Pascha Basket this year and include the following traditional foods, each with a symbolic significance
 
These are: 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. 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’ forty years of wandering in the wilderness. 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. Salt serves as a reminder to us that we are “the salt of the earth.”
The red egg 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.



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


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

St Mary Egypt - Turn Life Around

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

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

2. Cut the images out

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

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

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

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

Talking Points to Remember:

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

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pascha Poem & Orthodox Craft Idea

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.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lent Crafts: Pascha Candles

In our parish, we try to offer a small craft related to Great Lent and Pascha each year. This year we have chosen to invite parents to decorate a "Lambatha, or Pascha Candle" with their children after the celebration of a Divine Liturgy on Sunday. Often these can be purchased with stuffed animals and ribbons, but we aim to use small icon stickers, wax decals, and symbols from our faith instead. Beeswax is an ideal offering, however white is also fitting for the Resurrection if this is what your parish offers.

Here are a few symbols to incorporate:
A small icon of the Resurrection
A Cross
Three Crosses
Alpha and Omega
Flowers
IC XC NIKA (Jesus Christ Conquers)
The "X" and P"
Christ is Risen


Here is a sample graphic to print on labels. If anyone else has done this craft before, please share your advice. I found the following links that were helpful:

http://festalcelebrations.wordpress.com/2008/02/13/baptismal-and-paschal-candles/

Secondly, a thought was offered to decorate the small plastic cup that is often used to catch the wax from burning little hands.

Or thirdly, you could decorate a small white lantern to take the "Holy Fire" home. This is helpful protection from the wind as well during processions!

Friday, March 14, 2014

4th Sunday of Great Lent Curriculum


This is an example of how I will compile our lessons from the Sundays of Great Lent 2011. I regret not doing it sooner, but so many ideas came forth from actually teaching.
Click here to download the PDF for free: 4th Sunday of Great Lent Curriculum
May it be of some assistance to you next year! 

Please see the corresponding Great Lent Curriculum Chart and Great Lent Workbook containing the coloring icons.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome,
E-mail me if you prefer.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Holy Week Scrapbook Craft


For all you creative folks out there, consider putting your talents to use to create a Holy Week Scrapbook for your family or parish. Fill it with fun icons, Scripture verses, symbols, various languages, or photos as the week progresses. Use this as a learning tool, or a memory keepsake for 2014..


Here are a few suggested "call outs" to use with the icons:

Entry into Jerusalem:
Can you find Zaccheus? Why is Christ seated side-ways on the donkey? Did you know in colder countries the faithful use pussy willows instead of palm branches?

Washing the Disciples' Feet:
How many disciples were present? Who asks Jesus to wash his whole body? What is so special about feet?

Mystical Supper: Can you find St John resting on the bosom of Christ? How about Judas? He's usually the only one reaching for the food and is shown in profile, which signifies his two-faced betrayal.

Christ on the Cross:
What were the last words of our Lord? Can you find the blood and the water that spilled out from Christ's side? Who was crucified with Jesus? What was written above His head? In which three languages?

Christ being taken down from the Cross:
Can you find St. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea? They cared for Christ's body and received permission to take Him down from the cross. Who is holding Jesus' head? How will they bury Christ?

The Empty Tomb:
Which women were first to the tomb of Christ? What did they take with them? What is left behind where Jesus was laid?

The Resurrection:
Can you find Adam and Eve being raised from their tombs? How about those departed who are standing to the sides of Christ - Saint John the Baptist (right) and King David (left). Abel, the son of Adam (left) and the first man to die, is present and depicted wearing a shepherd's robe. Why are there keys and broken locks under the Cross?

Use google image search to save and print your own icons

For a FREE Journey to Pascha Handbook click here

Saturday, March 8, 2014

International Orthodoxy


This is a favorite project of ours for Sunday of Orthodoxy during Great Lent. It is particularly relevant, as many parishes join together, across canonical jurisdictions, to co-celebrate the Divine Liturgy, sometimes in many languages.

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

video

Friday, March 7, 2014

Akathist from Alpha to Omega


This "poem" to Panagia has been lost in translation!

Refresh your alphabet skills

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

Go back, and re-look at your Greek versions for you will find the author (could be St Romanos) wrote this hymn with each stanza corresponding to a letter in the Greek alphabet. It begins with Alpha, in order, until Omega, which is also fitting as our Lord used these letters Himself to show us He is the Beginning and the End. At various Orthodox monasteries abroad, you may even find this famous and beloved hymn illustrated in Byzantine iconography. I've gathered and compiled a document to use with your parishes and youth showing just that. Click here to download the PDF for FREE. I hope you enjoy the stunning imagery and symbolism as I have. Wishing you a blessed Lent for 2014!

March Activity



Click on the image to view and print this month's activity

Search horizontal, vertical,
and diagonal to find all
the words related to
Great Lent and Holy Pascha.

~ Enjoy ~

Colors of Orthodoxy


Now is a good time of year to pay close attention to color in the Orthodox Church, and how it's used to underline the moods appropriate to the season or special feastday.

Many changes have probably already occurred in your local parishes to signify the Lenten season. This is a good opportunity to review the significance of the colors with your teens and children to enhance their experience and understanding. On evenings like Forgiveness Vespers and Holy Saturday, the change of color can be seen mid-service!

In the Orthodox Church, there are typically six liturgical colors used: white, green, purple, red, blue, and gold. (Later, black vestments also came into use, and in various regions scarlet orange or rust as well) Most typikons/rubrics for our Orthodox jurisdictions seem to specify either "dark" or "bright" colors according to what the priest or parish might have available, but there are some common practices for the major feasts we can look at.

Changes can be seen in the priest's vestments, Altar table cloth, chalice and disc covers, sometimes the curtain in the royal doors, as well as the glass votives in the hanging vigil lamps in front of the icons on the iconostasis.

* White is used for Pascha, Christmas, the Transfiguration and Theophany (color of purity and God's uncreated light)

* Purple/Black for Lent (color of mourning and repentance)

* Green for Pentecost and feasts of the Holy Cross (color of plants and new life, renewal)

* Blue for feasts of the Theotokos and Salutation services in Lent (color of humanity, and also the heavens as we call Panagia's womb "More Spacious than the Heavens")

* Red for feasts of Martyrs, the Nativity fast, and also Pascha in some regions (color of martyrs blood, also color of divinity and royalty)

* Gold as the default (color of virtue)

-Click the images to print and use as handouts in your lesson-

~ Helpful Links ~

Russian Link

Antiochian Link

Interview on Vestments with Krista West

Fr Jerry Hall recording
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