"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, June 7, 2015

12 Apostles Activity


Tomorrow begins 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!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Pentecost Coloring Icon

The 12 disciples are seen in the icon of Pentecost gathered together waiting for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit. The hymns of the Orthodox Church remind us that the Apostles are anticipating this moment with joy and gladness.  "I am with you, no one can be against you." Kontakion of the feast of the holy Ascension.
Often, kids ask who is this man depicted in a crown, and what is he holding? He is the figure of the whole world, "O Kosmos"and he bears the twelve scrolls signifying the message of God's salvation that will go to all the lands through the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ. Some of the Apostles will write the Gospel account. Find them with your children Matthew, Mark Luke and John in the icon as they hold Gospel books. The other Apostles will write letters to be sent to the first Christian Churches, thereby holding scrolls in the icon.
Lastly, identify the symbolism of the Holy Spirit which descends as tongues of fire upon each head, granting the disciples the ability to speak in a language unknown to them for the benefit of those who heard the teaching. Remember, in Scripture we read how the sound came in like a rushing wind from heaven, uniting both what is above and what is on Earth!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Preparing for Pentecost


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

What is a Spiritual Father?

If the best doctors help to heal our physical bodies by knowing the "right" medicine, so even more does the spiritual father, who is enlightened by God, prescribe the much-needed healing for our soul. “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." This is the path to purification, and one does not accomplish it on his own. The Church is our hospital offering the healing medicines of Holy Confession, the Holy Eucharist, and Holy Unction. Without the Church, we are easily mislead into wrong "treatments" prescribing ourselves pain killers when we might need a spiritual heart transplant!!! (Mark 2:17 or Matthew 9:11-13, Luke 5:31)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

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 Thursday 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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

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

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.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Holy Week for Kids

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

Palm Sunday Morning- Find the kids worshiping Christ in this icon and hold your palms proudly like them for the procession. How do we greet a King? Who is our King?

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

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

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" Work on handwriting this phrase, or copying / tracing it as a memory verse.

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

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

Holy ThursdayTake the chance to bow before, kneel and kiss our Lord on the Cross. 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. Compare it to the white cloth of His manger at Christmas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 26, 2015

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!

St Mary Egypt Craft - 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 Orthodox craft:

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.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

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 is our spiritual journey
to the Resurrection of Christ., our "passage" from the Hebrew "pesche, or passover." Remember this is also why Orthodox Christians around the world have a different date for the Resurrection. Each year, the Church follows the same sequence of events - Christ raising Lazarus, Christ's Entry to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday), Christ's arrest (Bridegroom) the Passover (Christ's Mystical Last Supper on Holy Weds) the Crucifixion, Burial and Tomb, all culminating at the glorious Resurrection of our Lord.



FAMILY BASKET INGREDIENTS: 

Many parishes will bless the baskets all together after the Divine Liturgy on Saturday morning. Ask your local priest to try this custom!
  • a yeast bread,
  • a bitter herb
  • wine, 
  • cheese, meat, butter, salt, and a red egg. 
  • Sweet bread is always included, leavened with yeast. This is a symbol of the New Covenant; the Jews made unleavened bread, and we, the children of the new covenant, make leavened bread. Kulich is the traditional Russian bread, and Tsourekia is the traditional Greek braided bread. The braided form of this bread is a display of the Trinity  - 3 in 1. 
  • The bitter herb, often horseradish or garlic, serves as a reminder of the first Passover (horseradish is eaten as a traditional part of the original Passover meal) and of the bitter sufferings which Christ endured for our sake. Sometimes the herb is colored red with beets, symbolizing the Blood of Christ. The bitter herb is also to bring to mind the Jews’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, or our 40 days of the fast. 
  • Wine, cheese, and butter are figurative of all the good things of life, and remind us of the earthly gifts that come from God. Meat is included in remembrance of the sacrifice of the Old Testament Passover, which has been replaced by Christ, the New Passover and Lamb of God. (slim jims, beef jerky, salami can be fun finger food) 
  • Salt serves as a reminder to us that we are “the salt of the earth.” 
  • The red egg, which we crack,  is likened to the tomb from which Christ arose. This is because of the miracle of new life which comes from the egg, just as Christ miraculously came forth from the tomb, shattering the bonds of sin. Of course, red for His blood shed for us, and the miracle from St Maria Magdalane when the egg in her hand miraculously turned red as she proclaimed "Christ is Risen" to the non-believing Emperor.

Many Orthodox Christians also cover their basket with a Pascha basket cover.

Here and here  are some more links on Pascha Baskets.

Read here for information concerning how the Orthodox Christian tradition of  Pascha baskets got started.http://www.iarelative.com/easter/bcover.htm


Friday, March 13, 2015

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 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
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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Holy Week Orthodox Coloring Icons

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












Sunday, March 1, 2015

How We Pray at Home with Children


It can sometimes be a very frustrating task, getting kids to cooperate at daily prayer times..beyond just meals that is. I'm
sharing the bare bones of our morning/evening routine with you, so that we might encourage each other in the daily struggle to teach our kids to pray with their whole  mind, body and soul: to learn that communicating with God is an ongoing relationship and gift of love that requires effort, attentiveness and sacrifice. Here is what we do....please comment and post your tips for others. May God strengthen and illumine us as parents!

MORNING PRAYERS - before breakfast and school
  • Stand and make the sign of the Cross or bows to begin
  • Light individual candles at vigil lamp (vigil lamp is constant flame in our home in front of our icons using olive oil as our continuous offering to God for His presence and blessing. A big void is noticed if this light goes out. Try it for a month and see!)
  • "Through the prayers of the holy fathers, Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen... (ADULT)
  • Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal.....3x    (ROTATE HAVING KIDS SAY THIS)
  • All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us, ....(ANOTHER KID)
  • Glory to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit...   (ANOTHER KID)
  • Our Father...etc   (Another KID)
  • Through the prayers of holy fathers.... (ADULT)
  • THEOS KURIOS   (We all chant this "God is the Lord, and has revealed Himself to us, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord" with verses from Orthros)
  • (One) Morning Prayer (Having risen from sleep, we thank you o Christ our God....)
  • TIN TIN ME O TERA (We all chant "You are honored more than the Cherubim" with verses and one kid incenses icons and us)
  • Prayer for School  (I can post this if you want - we kneel for this )
  • 3 full body Prostrations saying Jesus prayer aloud. (We end every prayer time with this)
  • Through the prayers of holy fathers...."  (ADULT)
  • Venerate icons
  • Anoint foreheads with holy oil in a cross
  • Eat piece of dried antidoron 
  • Blow out candles
EVENING PRAYERS - much harder and abbreviated often because of bedtime behavior/silliness. Sometimes children listen to the prayers from their beds if unruly
  • Light candle at vigil lamp
  • Through the prayers of holy fathers.... (ADULT)
  • Holy God, Holy mighty, Holy Immortal.....3x    (ROTATE HAVING KIDS SAY THIS)
  • All Holy Trinity, have mercy on us, ....(ANOTHER KID)
  • Glory to the Father, Son, Holy Spirit   (ANOTHER KID)
  • Our Father...etc   (Another KID)
  • Through the prayers of holy fathers.... (ADULT)
  • FOS ILARON  (We chant "O Blessed Light" from Vespers)
  • Evening Prokeimenon  (changes for each day from Vespers)
  • "Grant Lord, to keep up this night without sin..."  (prayer from Vespers)
  • "Lord our God, if during this day, I have sinned...." (prayer while kneeling)
  • 3 full body prostrations saying Jesus Prayer aloud
  • Venerate icons
  • Lights out - sometimes adult reads life of Saint or Bible to fall asleep
TIPS
Consider asking the kids to chant "Lord Have mercy (3x)" as a good break from Mom or Dad reading all the time. Lastly, consider quiet time for specific "Prayer Rope"to be said. Provide one for each child on car rides, or afterschool walks....praying for people by name. On the drive to Liturgy, read the Epistle/Gospel in your language, or share a feastday lesson. Listen to chanting or lives of Saints.

Of course there are several prayerbooks with prayer rules and prayers for specific needs, the six hours of daily prayer, unceasing Jesus prayer, etc. I simply only wish to offer an abbreviated version of what works in our family at this time.

 What do you do?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Spring Cleaning


"Clean up - Clean up,
everybody everywhere,
Clean up - clean up,
everybody do their share."


The lyrics to this catchy Barney song might have more use to our Orthodox faith than we've considered before because if there's one concept kids understand, it's cleaning! Whether they are imitating our motion with a vacuum or grumbling about household chores, kids can distinguish dirt from sparkle! Let us use this opportunity then on "Clean Monday" to introduce our families to the idea that Lent is a period of cleansing, and everyone benefits from participating. Because Clean Monday is a strict fast day, it should be kept holy thru holy activities. I'd say, tidy up the house only in conjunction with a lesson about cleaning both the outside of the cup, as well as the inside.

* A clean bedroom is inviting to the angels
(tidy up your icons)

* A clean body can be achieved through a clean belly
(observe the fast)

* A clean mind is able to think of God rather than other worries
(spend quiet time with God)

* A clean mouth is filled with sweet words
(sing together)

* A clean hand is one that has helped others
(pitch in on a group project)

* A clean conscience is achieved only through tears of repentance and forgiveness (learn to make a prostration)

and ultimately

* ONLY A clean soul can become a suitable place for our Lord to dwell (read Communion prayers before and after receiving)

As we embark on the most important "spring cleaning" of our lives over the next 40-days, let us remember that with each small effort we make, God is wiping away the layers of crud to make us radiant with His glory.

"Wash yourselves, and ye shall be clean; put away the wicked ways from your souls before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, consider the fatherless, and plead for the widow. Come then, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: and though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; and though they red like crimson, I will make them white as wool. If then ye be willing, and obedient unto Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye desire not, nor will obey me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it." (Is 1:1-20, First Monday of Great Lent, the Sixth Hour)

SONG ACTIVITY
"Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away, from Your presence O Lord, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me, restore unto me, the joy of Your salvation, O Lord, and renew a right Spirit within me."

CRAFT ACTIVITY There is a tradition in Greece to fly kites from the tops of hills on Clean Monday. Kites have traditionally been a handmade hexagon. Narrow strips of wood are used and tied together in the middle by string. A large piece of paper is then stuck to the hexagonal shape and individually decorated. Fringes and tails of colored shiny paper are then added and an extremely long ball of string attached. Complete this activity by discussing how we are like the kite - taking a journey closer to God.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Great Lent Curriculum














For those interested, I'm re-posting a lesson plan chart and soon to follow workbook pages for Great Lent. The lessons are designed for each Sunday leading up to Holy Week, for a brief 1/2 hour immediately after the Divine Liturgy. Since other adults will be present to help in our situation, we're teaching the same lesson to kids ranging from 2 to 10 years of age.
    
Each session will include either a craft, coloring page, memory words, activity or hymn to chant. Every child will create necklace name tags on the first day, and decorate folders with fasteners inside that will become their workbooks. They only take home their craft each Sunday, as I will hold on to their folders until the end and add pages for Holy Week with Pascha.
     
So far, I'm really looking forward to creating the "Family Icon Tree's" and Mummy Wraps with toilet paper for the raising of Saint Lazarus! If you have other ideas I can include, please pass them along! I'll be converting this whole chart to Greek as well if anyone needs that.

Stay tuned for a follow-up PDF and SCRIBD link to download the workbook pages.

UPDATE: I've recently added a sentence scramble activity for the older ones in the group. Basically, seal envelopes with words from at least two memory phrases and ask the kids to work in groups to put the phrase together. This will work well on the Sunday of St John Climacus.

Confession & Kite Day


Clean Monday is the very first Monday which begins Great Lent. If your parish has never held a day to invite all the children, big and small, to experience the Sacrament of Confession....keep reading! This year, we're planning ahead and beginning our preparations. The tradition in Greece is to fly kites, which may to some appear secular, but when looked at more closely, can have a beautiful relation to the soul! You see, 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 to a day set aside for Confession and Kite Flying!

We've chosen the Saturday beforehand. The younger children can 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 plan to 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 :
http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/pr_confession.aspx

Pamphlet with Questions for Preparation:
http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/guide-to-confession.aspx

BINGO for Great Lent

Introducing a fun way to get your youth involved in service projects. On this BINGO card are listed 20 ideas for Great Lent that will enhance your spiritual journey to Pascha. Mix up the squares and distribute, or have each child draw from a bag to play. There are various ways to adjust this game, but the main idea is to establish 5 goals with your children to accomplish over the period of 40 plus days.

Here is the file posted on Scribd. If you would like the Word document to mix up the squares for different BINGO cards, just email me at eleniemarie@gmail.com.

Ask the students to complete their BINGO boards through activities outside of church, in daily life, and return their completed sheet to you for a "spiritual prize" I like to give Orthodox CD's, books, magnets, etc

Have fun, and please share other ideas for the squares by posting a comment.

Lenten Boardgame


Search the toy store aisles, and there's no Orthodox games to be found! So, let's develop our own ~ Just think of the possibilities! We could develop game pieces in the form of Saints, and move along the board to get them from earth to heaven, encountering persecutions and wild animals along the way! Maybe a set back or two. It's the game of Life, only Orthodox!

For the Lenten season, here's a simple boardgame to follow along with, but there's room for you to make up the rules. Roll dice, develop cards, land on a dark blue square and do something charitable - land on a light square and memorize a Scripture verse.

For other Lenten resources check out the following links:

www.lent.goarch.org

Journey through Holy Week for Kids

Phyllis Onest Resources

Lenten Resources at Monachos.net

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Orthodox Coloring Books for Lent

The time has come for Great Lent 2012 - here are some extra resources to challenge your young ones! We have compiled a printable PDF workbook available for free at this Scribd link. It contains coloring icons, games and craft activities to accompany the Sundays during Lent as well as Lazarus Saturday and Holy Week. Please do not reproduce or sell this for profit in any way - it is simply available for parish and home use only.


To purchase other fantastic resources available in many languages visit http://orthodoxchildrensbooks.com. Potamitis Publishing has extremely reasonable prices which include even the cost of shipping! They have informed me that the workbooks
have nice explanations on each page in both Greek and English for example.


I wish you all a fruitful journey this year, with many blessings and illumination for a glorious Pascha celebration!

4th Sunday of Great Lent Curriculum


This is an example of how I will compile our lessons from the Sundays of Great Lent. 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.
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