"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, March 11, 2018

Orthodox Pop Quiz - Sunday of the Cross


"Orthodox Pop Quizzes"

Who can tell us where the saying and superstition
"Knock on Wood" comes from?

good luck!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Lenten Crafts: Pascha Candles

Have you prepared a "Lambatha, or Pascha Candle" with your children yet for 2018? It is customary among the Greek Orthodox that the Godparents do so, and they give it as a surprise for their godchildren as the night of the Resurrection approaches. This candle has to be NEW, and will only be used for Pascha and 40 days afterward!

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
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:


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. We even had our "myrrhbearing girls" carry these.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Pascha Poem & Orthodox Craft Idea

How does one sum up the great feast of Pascha easily for kids?

With a long white piece of paper, we made three folds and created our very own accordion Pascha card with original poem to accompany the Passion and Resurrection of Christ icons cut out from Orthodox catalogs. This simple craft turned out to be a nice way to reinforce the meaning behind each day for young and old. Especially for godchildren and penpals far away, it helps us stay in touch spiritually since we will not be able to celebrate together. Here are the words to our poem:

  1. To Christ our God, Who raised Lazarus from the dead...
  2. You traveled to Jerusalem with the people you led...
  3. Teaching all to be servants rather than trying to get ahead...
  4. Your Body and Blood for eternity us you fed...
  5. Then nailed to the Cross, You conquered death for three days dead...
  6. As we wait to proclaim with our eggs dyed red...
  7. "I am the Resurrection and the Life,
      he who believes in me shall never die." Jesus said.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pascha Greetings in 59 Languages

Practice your Paschal greetings in 59 languages!

Pascha Languages
Be sure to print and save this one!

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

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

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:

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.

I suggest ending your lesson by reading together or silently this:

St Ephrem the Syrian, Spiritual Psalter, 120:

'How many times have I promised...'
I am unworthy to ask forgiveness for myself, O Lord, for many times have I promised to repent and proved myself a liar by not fulfilling my promise. Thou hast picked me up many times already, but every time I freely chose to fall again...If a righteous man can barely be saved, then where will I end up, I who am lawless and sinful? If the path that leads to life is strait and narrow, then how can I be vouchsafed such good things, I who live a life of luxury, indulging in my own pleasures and dissipation? But Thou, O Lord, my Saviour, Son of the true God, as Thou knowest and desirest it, by Thy grace alone, freely turn me away from the sin that abides in me and save me from ruin.

St Ephraim the Syrian resources
Quote from 120th 'Psalm' in St Ephraim's Spiritual Psalter by our Holy Father St Ephraim of Edessa, the Syrian; excerpted and arranged by Bishop Theophan the Recluse according to the manner of the psalter of the Old Testament.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

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

Monday, January 29, 2018

Lady Sarakosti Poem & Coloring for Great Lent

This year, we painted on food coloring before baking. Give it a try! 
Lady Sarakosti, is a custom from long ago,
Our yiayias (grandmothers) used to make her,
out of flour and H2O.

She wears a modest nun’s dress, with a cross upon her head,
silently without a mouth she prays,
to fast with fruits, nuts and bread.

Her feet teach us how to count,
the weeks of Lent are seven,
we cut one off each Saturday,
until Pascha and the Resurrection to heaven.

**If you make a better translation of the original Greek poem, please share it! This is also my version of a more Monastic Lady Sarakosti drawing with a prayer rope in hand and head veil**

Lady Sarakosti Recipe
2-2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup salt
2-2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon                            
water (as much as needed)        
* Not to be eaten! *

Combine flour, salt and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl and gradually add enough water to form a stiff, but flexible dough. Roll dough out to 1/2" thickness. With a sharp knife cut out the figure as shown above. Cut out two long narrow strips for arms and join at shoulders (wet surface to which arms will be applied). Make slits in dough for fingers.  Mark closed eyelids and noise with pointed object. Wipe entire figure down with a lightly dampened cloth to make shiny. Bake in moderate oven until golden.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

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. Workbook Here

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.

Orthodox Coloring Books for Lent

The time has come for Great Lent  - 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!

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.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Lent Word Search 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 ~

Monday, January 22, 2018

Publican & Pharisee

This year for the Publican and Pharisee Sunday lesson, here's an idea to get your kids and teens active. Meet outside and introduce the story with two balls. Make your kids observe them, feel them, and throw them around to each other in a circle facing each other.

Ask them to articulate just how different these two balls are. The beach ball is puffed up, displaying an array of colors in a fancy design for all to see. It is like eye-candy. When attempting to fly, especially upwards to heavens, it is tossed to and fro by the waves of air, pushing it in several directions without ever arriving at the destination. It is weightless. It is too plastic, and possibly too perfect. Worse yet, when the air is let out and deflated......there's nothing left. (A balloon also works great and can be blown up gradually in front of the kids as you give "prideful" examples, being the best soccer player, the faster runner, the best singer, first at spelling bee, etc)

The tennis ball is used, worn, abused and been through the dirt. It does have character, in fact, too much. It's scarred, maybe damaged. Might not be very good at playing the sport of tennis anymore, but when you throw it, it's like a rock. It streams through the air, landing just as far as you've thrown it. Its' destination is more reliable even if it arrives not as pretty, at least you know where it's going. It might unravel, but there's substance inside.

Now read the story from the Sunday Gospel: Luke 18:10-14

Discussion questions: Ask
WHO is the beach ball/balloon? (The Pharisee)
WHO is the tennis ball from the story?  (The tax collector or Publican)
What are the the characteristics you found in each person.
How we are like the beach ball?  (maybe desiring the praise at school /at home, feeling overly proud and better than others, when we talk but don't follow up with action )
Which would you rather be

Which does God desire us to be like? 
A prideful person is a big turn off, to others and to God!

Lastly, this parable teaches us "how to pray." In our holy Orthodox faith, we first recognize and confess ourselves as sinners who have fallen short of perfection, and in need of God's great mercy. thus crying out "Lord have mercy!" Only through humility can we attract God and grow closer to Him. Often times, God tries to deflate our over-inflated balloons in order to teach us humility. For some people, the spiritual life is a constant repeat of this, superficial inflation and divine deflation!

Lastly, include the story from one mother of a modern Saint. She advised St Paisios "it is better to let others win, and keep your friends"  than to strive to be first all the time. This thinking promotes humility as the key to Paradise!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Confession & Kite Day

Clean Monday is the very first Monday which begins Great Lent, and it is a quite somber day on the spiritual calendar. In Greece, it is customary for young and old to fly kites. We have been encouraged to give this activity a bit more meaning for the soul here in America, possibly the day or two beforehand, with the following activity.

On the Sunday evening before we begin Great Lent, there is always held the Vespers of Forgiveness where each parishioner asks the priest and one another for forgiveness. It marks the beginning of a great journey in which we embark to clean our souls of the darkness built up from our sins. Consider gathering your youth (ages 2-18) and even their parents earlier that day, or the day before to set aside for Confession and Kite Flying!

The younger children can prepare and experience Confession as a group with the priest, who can speak with them openly about the topic of sin and all can kneel under the "epitrahelion" for the final absolution to conclude, whereas the older kids can prepare their confession ahead of time and meet with the priest one on one. As each group finishes, we all meet outside to hand out free kites and experience the "joy" of a soul released to soar, free and lightened from the burden of sin!

Here is my simplified Top 10 Preparation List http://orthodoxeducation.blogspot.de/2008/06/weight-of-our-sins.html 

Additional Resources :

Pamphlet with Questions for Preparation for Confession:

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Presentation of Christ Activities - Ipapanti

As you and your families prepare
to celebrate the Presentation of Christ on February 2
I share with you the following activities.

Page 16 of 39 in this Orthodox coloring book
has the icon  to print & color


Click, Print and Enjoy!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Triodion Online

** We have available to us the holy words from the Lenten Triodion online in English.** What sweetness to pierce our souls! Visit this link to copy and paste the canons for use in your personal daily prayers.
Triodion Online

Keep this link as well for many liturgical texts

Made possible by the
** Community of the Holy Myrrhbearers **
R.D. 2, Box 188,
Otego, New York, 13825
(607) 432-3179

Mother Raphaela has given her blessing to distribute the texts for personal and church use but not for any kind of commercial use.

Parts of the Triodion are available in book form:

The Lenten Triodion by Mother Mary and Archimandrite Kallistos Ware Faber and Faber, London 1978

Sold many places One Link to Purchase It

The Lord consecrated and sanctified these
Forty Days of the Fast by fasting Himself for forty days.
Having entered into them, brethren, let us cry aloud: Blessing and exalting Christ forever!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

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."

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