Friday, May 21, 2010


Pentecost is this Sunday--May 23, 2010. I can't believe the Pascal Season is already over with! If you haven't already started hyping this momentous feast, now is the time.  There are lots of great ideas in the archive of this blog which I'm trying not to overlap on.  Make sure to check them out too.

Pentecost is especially exciting for children being that it is the church's birthday and kids love birthdays! Start prepping for this feast by reading the story of Pentecost over and over again--it's helpful for children in church to hear a familiar reading, as well as important for them to know this story. Start brainstorming with your kids about ideas of gifts we can give to the church (money, flowers, candles, icon (depending on your church)) as well as gifts for the poor & others and make sure to follow through with it on Sunday. Perhaps bring a cake to coffee hour and sing "Happy Birthday" to the Church (or have your own party at home).  Reuse your Ascension puppet theater and puppets to put on a Pentecost production. There are so many fun ideas!

It's also an important time to focus on the gifts/ fruit of the Holy Spirit. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, whether at home, driving, watching TV, reading a book, point out examples of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control. It is actually amazing how often you will see these values manifest in our society. As mentioned previously in this blog, especially focus on one or two and try to think of a creative gift to give your child/children based on this.

The Troparion for the feast is (tone 8):
Blessed art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast revealed the fishermen as most wise by sending down upon them the Holy Spirit - through them Thou didst draw the world into Thy net. O Lover of Man, glory to Thee!

Singing the Troparion is always a helpful way to establish a church/home connection for kids.  It also provides us with important theological insights about the significance of the feast. In order to make this troparion come alive for children there are many good fishing inspired games to enjoy. For instance, you could make a "go fish" game with the fruit of the Holy Spirit (either words or pictures depicting the word) or create a game in which you use a pole or net to capture fruit of the Holy Spirit fish (little pretend fish with a word or picture on them). Be creative!  This can be lots of fun for us parents too!

May you all have a blessed feast!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saint Brendan the Voyager

Today is Saint Brendan's Day, and I apologize for not posting this ahead of time so that you could prepare.  It's not too late to celebrate, though!

Another wonderful pre-schism western saint, Brendan the Voyager (b. 484) was a monastic in Ireland who founded many monasteries.  As his title and icon imagery suggest, he was a sailor who traveled around.  He is said to have gone in search of the Land of Paradise.  While the account of his journeys are intended to be of a symbolic and spiritual value, some have conjectured that he may have been one of the first saints to set foot in North America, some say Canada. 

Thus, in French Canadian spirit, serve up some Canadian bacon with French toast cut into simple fish shapes to symbolize simultaneously St. Brendan's ocean travels and also the Christological "ichthys" fish.  Serve breakfast for dinner!  (Or, next year, serve fishy toast for breakfast and Irish fare for dinner.)

You can also play the card game "Go fish!" and make origami boats to sail in the tub at bath time.

Talk to your children about The Water Project and make a donation.

(You can buy the beautiful Orthodox icon featured on the left above from Come And See Icons.  Below is the troparion featured on their website.)

Troparion (Tone 4)
The Divine Likeness has been perfected in thee, O holy Father Brendan, for taking up the Cross thou hast followed Christ, and by thy deeds thou hast taught us to disdain the flesh for it passes away, but to cultivate the soul for it is immortal: wherefore, O holy father, thy spirit rejoices with the Angels.