Saturday, April 25, 2009

St. Thomas Sunday: The Antipascha

Apolytikion in the Grave Tone

Christ our God, You are the Life that dawned from the grave, though the tomb was sealed. Through closed doors You came to the Apostles. You are the Resurrection of all. And, You renewed us through them with an upright spirit, according to Your great mercy.

Tomorrow is St. Thomas Sunday. In Orthodoxy, Thomas is seen not as Thomas the 'doubter' but Thomas the 'believer', who laid aside his disbelief when he touched the living Christ!

Always held the Sunday after Pascha, the 8th day after the resurrection when Thomas first saw Jesus (John 20:26-29), it is custom for some cultures and parishes to travel to the cemetery with their pashcal candles lit and cry out "Christ is risen!" and leave a Paschal egg on the grave.

Other activities for the day:
  • Saint Thomas the Believer Cookies: Make your favorite sugar cookie dough. Roll out the dough and cut out in the shape of hands. To do this, trace a child's hand on a piece of thick cardstock paper and cut out. Place this over the dough and cut around with a knife. Have your child press his thumb into each hand and fill the hole with red jam. Then bake according to your recipe. The hands are representative of Christ's hands which St. Thomas touched.
  • Make Koliva and discuss with your children why we make it. Goarch provides a good discussion outline here.
  • If you will not be visiting graves, have a special service at home. Remember the names of loved ones departed and cry out, "Christ is risen!" after each name.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Saint George the Great

Troparion for St. George
Liberator of captives, defender of the poor, physician of the sick, and champion of kings, O trophy-bearer, Great Martyr George, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.

Today marks the feast of St. George, the dragon slayer. My apologies for not posting on this earlier, but I have been debating about which saints to include apart from the great feasts and fast periods and finally decided that this one is too good to pass up.

Activity suggestions for the day:
  • Read/tell the story about St. George and read the Troparion with children (or sing it if you know how!)
  • Read Margaret Hodges children's version of the story. It is very beautifully illustrated and is a favorite with our children.
  • Make a St. George costume out of household items. Simply cut out a sword and shield out of cardboard and cover in foil. Paint a red cross on the foil covered shield. The kids will love it. Painting on foil is quite the novelty.
  • Finally, put those costumes on and put on a play!
Fun facts: St. George was a relatively minor saint until 8th century England when his story was translated into English (or Anglo-Saxon to be more proper). He was later adopted as patron saint of soldiers and became, known as the patron saint of England in the 14th century. In honor of England, why not have a good ol' English pub dinner. Bangers and mash. Steak and kidney pie. Whatever sounds good. And don't forget a pint of Ale (well, for you, that is)!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Bright Week!

I love Bright Week! Who doesn't!?

Need some ideas to celebrate? Check out my original post on Bright Week. Here are a few extra ideas to add:
  • Collect large rocks with your children and paint them in memory of the stone that was rolled away from Christ's tomb. Use them as door stoppers and let in the lovely spring air.
  • Spruce up your house and bring out the spring colors in your home decorations! If you don't have the materials to do so, buy some cheap streamers and balloons to decorate with for the week.
  • Print out copies of the Resurrection Icon from this great online Icon coloring book (page 25). Have the kids color the icons and decorate each room with a copy. You can even turn them into homemade icons (see instructions here).
  • Lastly, if you haven't already used your Lenten savings to do some charity work, use it now. Help out with your local homeless shelter or bring a nice meal to a family in need.
I wish a joyous Bright week to you all! Don't forget to light your Paschal candle the next 40 days and sing the Resurrection Hymn!

"Christ is risen from the dead and by his death has trampled death and to those in the tombs he has granted life."

Holy Week Activities

Here are some photos to illustrate some of the Holy Week activities.

Our Simple but Purposeful Holy Week Clock
A bit pitiful, I know, but I had a lot less art supplies on hand than I had thought!
The kids thought is was great, though.
A plate of homemade Hot Cross Buns w/cards
Pa washing Mary's feet during our Last Supper
Coloring Easter eggs on Good Friday
A photo of the kids after their Easter Egg hunt on Pascha

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

egg dyeing tip

Sick of your Pascha Eggs turning out pink? Well, here's a simple tip: use brown eggs.

I made up my normal coloring potion (1 bottle red food coloring, 2 tsp red vinegar and 1/2 cup hot water) and dumped my brown egg in the cup and voila! a RED egg!

Farewell, pink wannabes!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Resurrection Cookies

Because you won't be busy enough on Holy Saturday, here is a great recipe for Resurrection Cookies with scripture readings included! Head on over to Orthodox Mom and check it out!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Scheduling

I have fought it, fought it, fought it and now must finally give in. I hate schedules. Detest them. I like plans but when it comes to actually nailing down a schedule for every day, I cannot stand it. However, I am finally facing reality. I need a schedule.

I first tried doing a pie graph with basic activities that should be done everyday. But the reality of not having a time frame set aside meant that activities were often missed or they were all crunched together in a random, spastic time. It was not going well. I was struggling with slothfulness and depression and feeling overwhelmed all the time.

My Lenten resolution for this year has been to try to integrate prayer throughout the day. Trying to accomplish this led me to realizing that I was unable to do this consistently because my day had no set routine. I fought the routine hard. However, the Lord has humbled me this lent and I have realized that the so called freedom and control I tried to grab at through NOT having a schedule was not freedom at all.

So we are on a schedule now and it is great. It is refreshing. It is hard. But struggle is good. Struggling for self discipline over the body and desires is healthy and needful for our salvation.

Our new schedule revolves around the Hours. I wake up and jog (focusing on praying while I do so. If I am unable to focus on intercessory prayers, I simply say the Lord's Prayer over and over and the Jesus Prayer). Then I come home and read Matins. Our time is now blocked into 3 hour allotments around prayer times. Each time block involves chores, education (reading, math, art), read aloud time and free play. At the beginning of each time block we read aloud one prayer from that section of the Hours. We end the day as a family with Vespers, reading Scripture and talking about it and a hymn for the week.

It is strange to me having such a disciplined schedule now. But oddly, I feel much free-er. Who would have thought?

I highly encourage every stay at home mom to try to schedule your day this way. Centering each day around prayer is beneficial not only for the souls of us mothers, but also for the souls of our children.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Holy Week Activities and Crafts

Welcome back! After a short stint at Icon New Media Network, I've decided to return to the simplicity and flexibility of my own old fashioned blog. So, without further ado.....

Holy Week Crafts and Activities:
  • For a list of various crafts and activities for Holy Week, look no further than here!
  • In addition to the compilation above, make some paper lanterns for the Bridegroom services. This activity is centered around the parable of the 10 virgins. Read the scripture aloud and act it out together.
Memory Verse of the Week:

Psalm 119:105 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."