"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

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

Thursday, March 6, 2014

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 gamepieces 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, March 5, 2014

A Heavy Load


One small way of making the Sacrament of Confession real for kids, is by having them feel the weight of our own sinfulness! (This was tested on teens and proved to be powerful). Without giving away the punchline, ask your kids to pair up (girls with girls, boys with boys)having one hold the other in a piggy-back fashion. Read out loud together a spiritual text on Confession or story from a Saint's life for approx. 5-10 minutes. Check in often with the child bearing the weight- ask him/her how they're feeling....how much longer do they think they can go on.... is the weight getting lighter or heavier as they get tired?

(For younger children, use a backpack and heavy items that are labeled with example sins. Discuss each sin as it is placed inside)

Finally, read out loud the "Prayer of Absolution" that the priest reads at the end of the Sacrament of Confession, and allow the kids to take their seats...thus releasing their burden. Introduce the idea that the weight we carry around can be our sins. What does it mean to be a sinner? What are examples of sins? (To keep a secret, lie or steal, or by doing something wrong without apologizing, to disobey our parents, use profanity, or speak bad about others)

Remember, only Christ was without sin - Discuss the medicine that the Church offers to all who desire to be healed through the Sacrament of Confession. Go one step further to ask if anyone has been to Confession and can share their experience... Lastly, schedule a time for each child/teen to confess.

Ten Spiritual Tools for Confession

1. Tune in by sitting alone with God.

2. Still yourself in silence and clear your thoughts from any daily tasks.

3. Read the prayers to warm up your attention to God.
I have sinned, Lord, forgive me. +God, be gracious to me a sinner.

4. Ask God to open your heart and reveal to you the things to confess.

5. Honesty takes courage. Approach with boldness in Christ.

6. Resist any embarrassment during the Sacrament.

7. Don't let shame get in the way from receiving God’s love.
Run to Him.

8. Don't be sorry that you are a sinner.
This should be of no surprise to you.

9. If you have sadness, be sorry that you have hurt God.

10. Seek to sin no more, not because you expect perfection from
yourself, but rather because you no longer desire to hurt yourself or God.

After Confession Prayer
+Almighty and merciful God, I truly thank you for the forgiveness of my sins; bless me, Lord, and help me always, that I may ever do that which is pleasing to you, and sin no more. Amen.”

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Holy Numbers


Learning to Count:
The Orthodox Numbers


For children learning to count, or even teens who need a good challenge, this activity opens our eyes to the many ways our Lord sanctifies numbers.

This idea was inspired by an Orthodox Saint who during his martyrdom, brought to mind something holy for each horrible act against him. While they cut off each toe or finger, he praised God according to the number, finding a way to glorify our Creator. Can anyone help me remember this Saint's name?

Here's how the activity works: Begin by explaining that as the adult or leader, you will call one number at a time, and ask for your children/teens to respond with a correlating event from the Bible, a Saints life, or element from our faith. You can go in order, or be more spontaneous. However, don't move on until your group has thought of everything it can for that number! Here are a few examples...

1 - One God, One Church, One Faith, One Messiah, One leper healed who thanked God, Prayers of 1st Hour

2 - Mary & Joseph, Paul & Silas, Two animals of every kind in Arc, Brothers James and John, Parable of Two Sons

3 - Holy Trinity, The Hebrew Children, Noah's 3 sons, 3 Fathers Abraham-Isaac-Jacob, 3 Angels visited Abraham, Days of Jonah in the belly of the whale, Days of Christ in the depths of hades, 3 Magi, 3 Stars of Panagia's ever-virginity, Prayers of 3rd Hour, Peter denied Christ 3 times, Christ breathed His last breath on the cross at 3:00pm, 3 Apples picked by St Euphrosynos, 3 Apples given to St Irene Chrysovilantou, 3 Daughters of St Sophia, Newly baptized child/adult receives Body & Blood 3 times in a row

4 - Gospels, 4 Corners of the Earth,Lazarus in the tomb for 4 Days

5 - Holy Virgins who made it into the Kingdom with enough oil, Jesus fed 5 thousand with 5 loaves

6 - Days to work, Stone Jars at Wedding at Cana, Prayers of 6th Hour, 6 Winged Angels

7 - Days of Creation, Sacraments, 7 angels 7 plagues, 7 Fruits of Holy Spirit,7th Day of Rest, 7 Ecumenical Counsels

8 - 8th Day after Pascha symbolizing eternity, 8 Byzantine Tones to Chant

9 - Lepers who didn't return to thank God, Prayers of 9th Hour, Holy Spirit descended at 9am, 9 months of Panagia carrying Christ in her womb

10 - Virgins waiting for the Bridegroom, # of Lepers cleansed, 10 Commandments

12 - Tribes of Israel, Apostles, Prayers of the 12th Hour, Christ crucified at 12:00 noon, Jews led out of Egypt at midnight, Maybe Christ would come as thief in the night at midnight, 12 baskets of leftover bread from miracle with loaves

40 - Days of Flood, Days Moses ascended Mountain, Years of Jews wandering the desert, Years of reign of King David, Days Elijah traveled until he reached Horeb, Years of Reign of Saul,Years of reign of Soloman, Days Christ was tempted in desert, Days Christ appeared after Resurrection before Ascension, Days of Fast before Christmas, Days of Fast before Pascha, 40-Days of mourning(Memorial Service), 40 Martyrs of Sebaste, 40 Day Churching of Baby

50 - Days after Resurrection for Pentecost

Millions - the Saints!


You can use this game to compete in small groups, with each answer earning a point, or just play for fun on a road trip! Either way, it should encourage our learning and hopefully remind us of the many wonders of our Lord and God. (tip: use a Bible search engine online for assistance)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

10 Fun Facts About Angels


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

When it comes to our daily lives, we can often forget the presence of the angels around us, (and it's easy to do since they are invisible!) Therefore, to honor their hard work on our behalf this post is dedicated to "ten fun facts about angels" to share with our youth. It's not a theological treatise - but rather a few talking points to bring us and our young people closer to understanding God's loving acts for us through His angels.

______________________________________________________________________________

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

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

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

4. Their types? thrones, dominions, principalities, seraphim's, cherubim's, powers, sovereignties, archangels, and angels.

5. Their names? Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salathiel, Barachiel, Jeremiel, Jegudiel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Theophan the Recluse Homily on Prayer

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