Thursday, May 28, 2009


I hope you all have a glorious Ascension Day feast today!

I am putting up a Pentecost post a bit early in order to participate in an Anglican friend's liturgical blog carnival over at Homemaking Through the Church Year. Be sure to participate too!

This year, Pentecost falls on Sunday, June 7th for the Orthodox Church. It is celebrated every year 50 days after Pascha. On this day we commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. This event occurred on a Jewish feast called Pentecost and is seen as fulfilling the revelation of the Trinity.

We will be throwing a birthday party for the church this year, complete with special festal decorations and gifts 'of the Holy Spirit'.

For the decorations:
  • Greenery: The Eastern Rite Orthodox Liturgical colors for Pentecost are green, the symbolic color of the Holy Spirit, life and the wood of the cross(Western churches wear red on Pentecost). It is an old custom to decorate the churches (and homes) with lots and lots of greenery.
  • Dove Mobile: In some Catholic churches, a dove (real or a model) would literally be lowered down as trumpets sounded or choirs mimicked the sound of rustling wind, and as the dove descended, red rose petals would be strewn to symbolize the tongues of flame. So make a Dove Mobile with kids! We will be making one and I will document the event with instructions, but for now, why not look here and here or here for some inspiration.
Party Time-complete with cake and presents!
  • Fruits of the Holy Spirit Cake....: Don't forget the birthday cake!!! Use fruit filling or bake a fruit pie to represent the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Read the story of Pentecost in Acts prior to cutting the cake and sing "God grant you many years" to the church.
  • ....and presents: Finally, no birthday party is complete without presents. But these presents have a special twist. Give your children tiny gifts to symbolize the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I would suggest picking one fruit (or two) each year to focus on. For example, you might pick 'Generosity' and give your children little packets with things to give to a homeless person (like a hygiene kit). Or you might, for older children, choose self-control. Give them a favorite candy and if they can manage not to eat it for a week, then tell them they will get another candy. The gifts can be more light-hearted and fun too! You might give your child a gift and explain that it is for a kindness they performed earlier in the week, or for their patience during a certain event. Regardless, use this as an opportunity to explain some of the virtues/fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Happy Feasting!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Holy Ascension

Thou hast ascended in glory O Christ our God, granting joy to Thy disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. Through the blessing they were assured that Thou art the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world! (Troparion).

When Thou didst fulfill the dispensation for our sake, and didst unite earth to heaven, Thou didst ascend in glory, 0 Christ our God, not being parted from those who love Thee, but remaining with them and crying: I am with you and no one will be against you! (Kontakion).

The 40 day Paschal celebration will come to a close this next Thursday with the feast of the Holy Ascension. This feast marks Christ's ascent into heaven after the 40 days he spent with the disciples demonstrating his Resurrection. Here are several ideas to help you celebrate the day with your children:

  • In Western Christendom, it is common to eat some sort of bird on this day since Christ "flew" into heaven.
  • Another popular custom to take a hike up hills or Mountains on Ascension Day to commemorate Christ and the Disciples climbing up Mt. Olives. The Swedes have a tradition of getting up very early in the morning and going to a forest glen to hear birds singing at sunrise. Dependent on when the sun rises in your city, you might want to try some variation of this. Maybe start a morning hike at sunrise and end on top of a hill with a picnic breakfast?
  • In the Catholic Church, there is recorded an English custom of a processional involving a banner bearing a lion at the head and a dragon at the rear to symbolize Christ's triumph in his ascension over the evil one. So, the project for Ascension Day is to make a Banner of Triumph. Here are two links for paper plate lion and dragon crafts. You can draw the faces and let your toddlers color them in before attaching them to a banner. Then, at the end of the day before extinguishing the Paschal candle, make a processional around the house during prayer time singing the hymn "Christ is Risen from the dead" one last time. Then, hang the banner on the wall until Pentecost (remove the Christ is Risen banner) and extinguish the Paschal candle together before bedtime.
  • One last idea is a little 'puppet' show. Help your children to make Toilet Paper Tube Dolls. Make disciple dolls and a Christ doll. Attach a long string to the Christ doll. Make a stage with a large cardboard box. Decorate the box and set the dolls in it. Run the string through the top/back of the box, with a hole cut out large enough for the doll to be pulled through. Read the story of the Ascencion from a Children's Bible, and pull on the string as Christ ascends into heaven.