"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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Orthodox Jeopardy

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

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

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

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    Theophany / Epiphany Coloring

    Kali Fotisi / Καλή φώτιση
    ~ Wishes to you for a "Good Enlightenment" on the holy Feast of Theophany, or Ephiphany. If you are looking for a lesson, try splitting apart the icon, and using it as a beginning. We color and create puppets to retell the story of Christ, St John the Baptist, the Angels, another for the waters, and especially the Dove or Holy Spirit.  Here are some talking points:
    • In this feast, we find each person of the Holy Trinity fully present and our God is revealed to us. Can you find the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? (The Father's voice is heard, the Son is seen as perfect man, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit is witnessed as a fluttering light, much like that which resembles a dove) The light has appeared to all men!
    • We learn that baptism is not only necessary for the cleansing of our sins, but for the regeneration of our souls and for a life in communion with the fullness of the Holy Trinity. We are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and clothed in Christ, becoming sons/daughters/heirs to the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father. Why? Remember, we fast because Christ fasted; we are baptized, because Christ was baptized; we confess the "Our Father" prayer because Christ taught us this prayer; word for word. Therefore, we embody the hymn "As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ, alleluia."
    •  Water has always been crucial for life. In this feast, the water is sanctified and offered to drink for the healing of body & soul. Remember the living water that Christ offers the woman Photini at the well, so that we may not thirst again. (John 4:10, John 7:38)
    • A short prayer that we can begin memorizing as we make the sign of the cross is:
      "My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, my protection is the Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, glory to be to Thee."
    Here is a video showing the miracle that occurs each year at the Jordan River, which begins flowing in an opposite direction from the power of the Holy Cross.

    "Today the nature of water is sanctified. Jordan is divided in two, and turns back the stream of its waters, beholding the Master being baptized."

    Saturday, January 3, 2015

    Theophany Activities

    Try putting the words of the Theophany troparion in order in this interactive activity, offered free to all online.


    Also, refresh your knowledge of this feast by watching this great resource in English: Do you know what the ax means in the tree?
    What were the poignant words of St John the Baptist?


    Friday, January 2, 2015

    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

    Tuesday, December 16, 2014

    Christmas Worksheet

    Here is an Orthodox Christian Worksheet and Lesson on the Nativity that includes a bit of theology we often overlook. Although it might be for older ones, I hope it offers details that the younger ones can comprehend as well.

    Click here for the PDF Lesson available at the Orthodox Christian Scribd Group.

    Wishing you and your families a blessed Nativity and Twelve Days of Christmas beginning with the birth of our Lord. 

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    Christmas Crossword


    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

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    Candy Cane Hunt

    Try a "Candy Cane Hunt" with your families, friends, or parishes on the Sunday before Christmas, Dec 21st. You can print out tags to wrap around each cane if you like with a short spiritual poem. It's a great way to get out energy after the Divine Liturgy!

    Sunday, December 7, 2014

    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:

    Monday, December 1, 2014

    Saint Nicholas of Myra

    (Initially posted in 2009)

    Here is a small book compiled on the life and miracles of Saint Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra. It is my first attempt to extract scenes from "vita" icons of the Church's beloved Saints in order to bring them to life with simple stories for children and teens. I hope this idea can extend into a series, maybe one day even a published collection, to build our libraries with illustrated books for years to come ~ May it be of some small use to you and your families.

    A PDF file can be downloaded
    from the Scribd.com Orthodox Education Collection here.

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    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

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    40 Days of Christmas Craft

    Each year, we begin decorating our home on November 15, as we begin the 40 day fast for Christmas. It's beneficial for all to begin seeing the transformation around us and within us. 
    Here are the 40 days in icons. We're aiming to cut them out, and create an ornament for each day until Christmas. If you follow the old calendar, I can post January as well.

    Enhance this activity by chanting the troparion for each day, or paste a short story from the Saints' life on the backside of each ornament.

    At this link, many Orthodox ornaments are sold, and you can get a few ideas: http://www.easterngiftshop.com/Category/CO

    Paste each icon in the center of a star or snowflake if you wish!  gold star

    After you're finished, that's forty ornaments! Plenty to fill a tree!

    Saturday, November 15, 2014

    Saint Andrew - First Patriarch of Constantinople

    With the feast of Saint Andrew approaching on November 30, I figured this would be as great of a time as any, to introduce our young people to our Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the once glorious city of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. Especially considering that most people today only know it as Istanbul. Here you'll find a coloring icon of Saint Andrew, links to nice video footage, and a map of the Saints missionary travels.

    As an Apostle of Christ, Saint Andrew was tasked to preach the Gospel in Asia Minor (Now Turkey), Macedonia, Romania and even as far as Russia. He is considered the founder of the Christian Church in Constantinople, as each and every ordination of a Patriarch, a Bishop, a Priest or Deacon can be traced back to the original Apostle Andrew. The liturgical act of laying on of hands in the Orthodox Church with the grace of the Holy Spirit is the transfer of the original Christ-given authority to the Apostles.We call this Apostolic Succession. Because of this lineage, we can truthfully say that the Orthodox Church is the Ancient Christian Church, over 2000+ years old.

    Please visit www.patriarchate.org to learn more and view photos.

    Here is a nice interactive timeline http://www.patriarchate.org/patriarchate/timeline

    The program "60 Minutes" on CBS broadcast a series on the Pariarchate:
    Visit these links to watch:

    On Cappadocia

    Question and Answer page on the Patriarchate

    Here is my personal photo of the relic of the "X" cross that St Andrew was martyred on, which can be venerated along with the Saint's skull at this giant cathedral in the port city of Patras, Greece on the Ionian Sea.

    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    Saint Katherine / Agia Aikaterini

    The life and example of Saint Katherine (Agia Aikaterini /Katerina) is truly a unique witness for all youth, and especially handmaidens of Christ. If you do not know her story, take a moment to be inspired for her feastday on Tuesday, Nov 25 and color the icon. Especially for all girls involved in speech & debate!

    Watch the life of St Katherine here for children on You Tube

    Watch video footage of Sinai and the Icon collection at he Getty Museum here

    Another video for children on her

    As a young woman of great beauty and intelligence, she came of age to be married, but her focus was elsewhere. She only agreed if a suitor was found that surpassed her own knowledge, wisdom and talent. What earthly man could compare? Her mother took her to meet a holy ascetic, outside the city, dwelling in a cave. He gave her an icon of Panagia and her son, to begin praying to meet such a worthy "man;" who else, but Christ Himself. But when the Mother of God appeared to her in a dream, Christ would not look at Saint Katherine, as she had not yet renounced her life to accept the Christian faith. She returned to the elder for catechesis, and baptism, then received a ring of betrothal to Christ as His handmaiden, for only He was worthy of her devotion. She preserved her body in virginity and soul until martyrdom.

    You see, she gave up a perfectly easy life.

    Later, she refuted the rhetoric from 150 of the King's wisest scholars and proclaimed the one true God, as Jesus Christ. For this, many miracles came to be. The wheel she was to be tortured on, was broken. The Queen and soldiers visited her in prison, and accepted Christianity. Lastly, when beheaded, her body flowed with milk rather than blood and was escorted by angels to the mountain of the great Prophet Moses of the 10 Commandments in the Sinai desert, where a remarkable Orthodox monastery lies today.

    If you are fortunate enough, to be named after her, may you be blessed with such wisdom & courage! Xronia Polla~

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Christmas Orthodox Craft Ornaments

    Just wanted to share our small craft that we'll be doing with kids ages 3-12 for Christmas. We've ordered these very reasonably priced wooden photo frames, which includes a latch backing and clear photo protector. The children will decorate with glitter paint, markers, pencil, beads, crayon,sparkle stars and more...and we will insert an icon of their choice from the Nativity selection. 

    Here is the site to order the ornament frames and other craft goodies

    We're either considering printing various icons ourselves, to ensure the proper size, or we may even have the children color their icon first.

    If you are also planning a craft idea or lesson, please do share!
    The beginning of our fast begins before you know it. How time flies~

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Teen Lesson for Christmas - Scavenger Hunt

    In response to those of you who asked for more teen resources, here is a lesson that I believe our teens are capable of grasping. Often, we don't give them enough substance - so get ready to challenge them!

    Using the text "On the Incarnation" by Saint Athanasios, you can lead your group to a deeper understanding of why God needed to come in what we celebrate as the feast of the Nativity. By drawing out important quotes and asking the right questions, we can essentially tackle the messages of creation, salvation, and theosis with them.

    If you so choose,
    make a scavenger hunt of these hidden quotes from the lesson plan alone to lead them through the lesson!  Cut in strips, and hide them around your Church - taking them from places like where we enter our spiritual journey (the door) to where we find refreshing drink (the water fountain) to a reflection in the mirror to better see mankind's position to God. Regroup at the end to compile and discuss the quotes by gluing them in order to a larger poster.

    I've broken this down into three possible sections for the month of December.
    This can be used at a retreat or over three consecutive Sundays.

    • Did God need to become man?  (CREATION)
    • How could God act to save us?  (SALVATION)
    • Why can man now become god or god-like? (THEOSIS)
    To read and print this Lesson Plan "On the Incarnation" in a PDF format  click here: or visit http://www.scribd.com/doc/74236030.

    If you have feedback, additions, corrections or comments, feel free to send them. As always, my work is in progress with room for improvement. As you teach this lesson, you may find other topics arise which will be helpful to share.

    Also, don't forget about the previously posted "WHY CHRISTMAS" worksheet located at this link.

    "May it be blessed"

    Saturday, November 8, 2014

    Christmas Coloring & Symbolism

    It seems the most common thing families are looking for are Orthodox coloring icons! So here are the ones I have for the Nativity Christmas season. (Potamitis Publishing has others for sale.)

    • Also a few talking points for the icons
    • St John Chrysostom reminds us of the odd behavior of such a star that led the Magi from the east. It appeared in daylight! It acted like no other by coming down from the heavens to practically eye level. It disappeared while in the presence of Herod, and reappeared afterward.

    • Also, the magi themselves were well trained in the behavior of stars - this was their daily work! Traveling far, their ethnicity symbolizes that the Gospel will reach the Gentiles and people of the East. Their gifts are full of meaning - gold for the King of all ages, frankincense for God of all, and myrrh for His three days in the tomb as fully man.

    • Sometimes we ask why is Joseph turned away? The theological answer is often because he shows us he is not the father of Christ, and others say he is deep in thought, contemplating the virgin birth. In various icons, a grim figure is depicted tempting Joseph with harmful doubts, or another younger man walks with them as they travel to Egypt. Just remember to identify Joseph correctly. He was the much older widow with children from his previous wife. His care for Panagia was closer related to that of  fatherly protection than ever as a husband, seeing as a marriage was never consummated between them.

    • Important also for our children to understand -Christ was born more likely in a cave than a barn (I cringe at such incorrect images) The cave and the Mother of God are the offerings from the world, as the hymns proclaim. Light has been born into the darkness!   

    • Everyone offers the newborn Christ a gift! Mankind offers Panagia, or Mary, to be used for God's purpose and His work of salvation. Notice her posture. In some icons she is kneeling with arms crossed to worship her very own son as her God. Yet she is one of us, perfectly human and representative of us all created to offer ourselves fully to God as she did. The wilderness offers the cave as a dwelling place for the Savior. The heavens offer the star. The angels offer their voices of praises and song. Even the animals gather around Christ to offer their own warmth of breath, as heat in the coldness of the cave!
    • The swaddled clothes around Christ signify His burial cloths as well, if you remember, when St Joseph of Arimathea and St Nicodemus wrapped the body of Christ is a white linen cloth for the tomb.

    • The shepherds, lastly, are all of us. The simple, the unlearned, the lost sheep - called from our daily tasks to come and worship the Lord. After such an encounter, one's life can never quite be the same!

    Friday, November 7, 2014

    NEW Orthodox Book for Christmas

     "Children of all ages are invited to enter into the feast day of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ in this second book offered by the Sisters of All Saints Greek Orthodox monastery. Here you will find the rich and poetic words of Orthodox hymnography and illustrations based on traditional byzantine iconography. This humble offering will inspire every reader to worship and bow down to our Creator who became incarnate for our salvation."

    ORDER NOW the second book of this series as a Christmas gift for your families. Contact the Sisters at hagionpanton@gmail.com

    All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery
    Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Direct Archdiocesan District
    P.O. Box 802
    1676 Middle Rd.
    Calverton, NY 11933

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    Orthodox Coloring

    Add these to your collection of coloring icons and Orthodox Christian imagery

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