"The solution is to be found through the sanctification of the parents. Become saints and you will have no problems with your children." Father Porphyrios , Wounded By Love

Monday, January 29, 2018

Lady Sarakosti Poem & Coloring for Great Lent



POEM
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
http://lent.goarch.org/dailyreadings/lectionary.php?type=gospel&code=272&event=1150&DL=EN

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 :
http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/pr_confession.aspx

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

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

https://www.scribd.com/doc/14024263/Orthodox-Christian-Icon-Coloring-Book

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
Anastasis.org

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

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."


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Candy Cane Hunt


Try a "Candy Cane Hunt" with your families, friends, or parishes before Christmas this year. You can print out tags to wrap around each cane if you like with a short spiritual poem.

We usually have adults hide the candy canes off fences, tree branches, under low bushes and parking lot car mirrors then dismiss the youngest kids first, giving them a head start to gather candy for their brown lunch bags!

It's a great way to get out energy after the Divine Liturgy or during the days home from school!


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Christmas Crossword



********REVISED**********

Click on the crossword puzzle
to the right for a little
Christmas trivia!
Located for free download here.

Hopefully, it will be challenging
for parents and kids of all ages.


"Make ready, O Bethlehem:
let the manger be prepared,
let the cave show its welcome. The truth has come, the shadow has passed away..."


Sticheron at the Royal Hours
by St Sophronius of Jerusalem

Christmas Worksheet

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

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


Wishing you and your families a blessed Nativity ~

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas Movie - The Star




Every holy-day season it seems Hollywood introduces a film to smear the true Christmas story and our holy Orthodox tradition with jokes, animation, wrongful depiction and false ideas of the persons of Jesus Christ, Mary, the Magi, etc. This year, the movie is called "The Star." 

I am convinced that when we "lighten up" and use humor for holy things the end is not entertainment, but a desensitization to holiness and destruction of true faith. It could be otherwise called blasphemy. They have put words into the onscreen mouths of individuals that never spoke them. And what children see.....children believe...
The Star

Alternatively, what children don't see....children will use their imagination to bridge the gap, for example, between what they see in an icon and the story they hear from the Gospel. Who today is explaining that Joseph was an honorable widow of 80 years and not the young strapping boyfriend to the most pure Virgin Theotokos?  (Buy this book here)

Therefore, here are a few Orthodox Christian videos from Youtube that I do promote, not for language as children look beyond words, but for the Orthodox graphics:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU1wbHXNA7A&index=2&list=PLADPaqreDzulzvP4_8e8AfwwBN1f9HugQ

and

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUTujZMGEkU&index=7&list=PLADPaqreDzulzvP4_8e8AfwwBN1f9HugQ

Lastly, if you do use video playlists to cast quality Orthodox programs to your TV, here is a playlist I have compiled over the years. I welcome you to send me any additions to review. Thanks be to God for all things, and may He bless the diligent workers in His vineyard who try to produce accurate and uplifting videos.

Saint Andrew - First Patriarch of Constantinople

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

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


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

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

The program "60 Minutes" on CBS broadcast a series on the Pariarchate:
Visit these links to watch:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6754652n

On Cappadocia
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6001620n&tag=segementExtraScroller;housing

Question and Answer page on the Patriarchate
http://www.patriarchate.org/patriarchate/faq

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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dwelling Place for Christmas

The Nativity lenten season has begun...
will God find an available "dwelling place" to be born?
Will there be room at our inn?


When He comes, as He did then to the city of Bethlehem, to knock on our doors....will there be room in our homes, in our hearts, and in the sometimes darkness of our lives for Panagia to lay and give birth to the giver of ever-lasting peace? What state will He find our caves in? Ready, asleep, or full to capacity with other things?

You see, the cave is not only a physical place of historical importance, but a spiritual metaphor for each one of us. Isn't it also interesting that so many monks/nuns in our Orthodox tradition took up residence in an actual cave, where they decorated it with icons and burning vigil lamps living their lives in complete concentration and stillness. Hence, the "Light was born into darkness." Literally, and symbolically.

How, might we ask, could God who is grander in size than any other "fit into" the smallness of our bodies and hearts? If He wanted to, couldn't He force out the things in His way to make room? Sure, He could, but He wouldn't. Instead, He invites us to do this work because it encourages a cooperation with Him. In fact, He asks that we do so, to put forth some effort.

You see, the greatest of man's sins and the true opposite of love is not hate, but actually "indifference."  We simply ignore Him everyday, and pretend He's not there. Like when we pass someone poor, in need on the street, and pretend we don't see them, even though our hearts feel differently.

If you choose and are willing try the following:

  • Give Him the greatest of gifts - your time and your attention. We do this by isolating ourselves in prayer, with the door shut behind us, and the television off. Eliminate all distractions.
  • Physically clean out space in your souls through fasting and confession. Even at the last hour if you have not yet done so, it is well worth it.
  • Lastly, shut out the consumerism and over commercialization of these holy days and fight to remain focused and available to Him. This has to be a conscientious choice.
Any other suggestions? Please leave a comment!

Wishing you and your families a truly joyful preparation this year of Christmas ~ 2014.

Root of Jesse Tree: Christmas Activity

The sayings of the prophets are now fulfilled!

Use this study to learn the prophecies of the Old Testament with your children and teenagers. (Download the free printable PDF file here, in color or black/white.) All verses are weaved into the hymns of the Orthodox Church and chanted during the Christmas services. The richness and depth of the season is remarkable!
     Complete this "Root of Jesse Tree" by first gluing the Mother of God in place, and adding a prophet as you study them with the verses below. The tradition of this icon can often be found with an image of Jesse reclining at the bottom of the icon as the root - the Mother of God becomes the "rod" who springs forth the "fruit" who is Christ (2nd century Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons, St Ambrose of Milan, and 8th c St Cosmas)

Here are the memory verses:
  • A shoot will come forth from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. ( Isaiah 11:1)
  • Her womb was foreshadowed by the burning bush that was not consumed  (Exodus 3:2)
  • The Lord has created a new thing upon the earth: A woman shall compass a man (Jeremiah 31:22)
  •  Lord, the God of Israel has entered through the closed gate and it shall remain shut. (Ezekiel 44:2)
  •  Zion is our mother. a man shall say; and such a man was born in her: and the Most High Himself hath established her. (Psalm 87:5 David)
  • For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Therefore my Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the concealed one shall conceive and bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel (Isa 7:14)

Discuss the symbolism & titles of Mary in the items that each Prophet carries:

Jacob: the Ladder (Genesis 28:12)
King David: the Ark of salvation
Aaron: the Rod/staff that budded fruit
Isaiah:  the Staff/Whip (10:26, 36:6)
Daniel: the Mount (2:35, 2:45)
Gideon: the Rock (Judges 6:20)
Moses: the Burning bush
Soloman: the Veil of the Temple 
Ezekiel: Gate of Life (Ezekiel 44:3) expressed Four Gospels (explained)

Zachariah: the Lampstand (chapter 4)


Read more excellent quotes of the Fathers here: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Root_of_Jesse

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Teen Lesson for Christmas - Scavenger Hunt

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

"May it be blessed"

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

10 Fun Facts About Angels


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

One often says the youngest of children can see the angels in the Orthodox Church, chasing them through the pews. You may have even read of holy priests encountering angels in the altar. Most of us however, have lost our innocence and the ability to see such visions, unless God so chooses. Angels are mostly referred to as the "invisible" of God's created beings! However, they are not "unknown" as their actions stand alone as proof of their existence and service to our Lord. Learn more below!

http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/11/synaxis-of-archangels-michael-and.html______________________________________________________________________________

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? There are nine ranks of angels. Thrones, dominions, principalities, seraphim's, cherubim's, powers, sovereignties, archangels, and angels.

5. The names of Archangels? 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, or fear of death. God created them good and holy.

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."

________________________________________________________________________________

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."

Monday, November 6, 2017

Nativity Animation

Here is an excellent way to teach the Nativity and meaning of Christmas in an Orthodox Christian animation for your children and teens. It is brief, but rich with iconography and hymnology in three languages!

Visit the link below and even send it as a greeting card.

http://www.hamatoura.com/GreetingCard/Greetings.php?subject=Nativity%20of%20Jesus%20Christ&link=06JesusNativity-En

The hymn proclaims the Kontakion:

Today the virgin giveths birth to Him
Who is the Servent in Essence

and the earth offereth a cave to Him
who is unapproachable

Angels with shepherds give glory,
with a Star the Magi do journey,
for our sake a young Child is born,
who is pre- eternal God.
 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Christmas Coloring & Symbolism

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




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

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

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

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

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

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


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