Thursday, September 27, 2007
Last week Fr. Justin and I watched a film call "(The) Island". It is a Russian film about a holy man living in a monastery who receives people from 'the world' and gives them advice.
This movie is probably my favorite movie of all time. It is not only beautiful to watch, but it is spiritually beautiful and profound as well. I was sad to see the film come to an end.
Please take the time to rent and watch this film.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Last Friday was a very special day here at our house.
Our day started with a 6:00a.m. Divine Liturgy for the Elevation of the Precious Cross of our Lord. It is one of the Great Feasts celebrated by the Orthodox Church. Go to this web site for a wonderful description of the feast and an excellent commentary on the icon of the Elevation of the Cross. www.goarch.org/en/special/listen_learn_share/exaltholycross/learn/
The picture is of the cross at our Church. When there is a Great Feast, our Church decorates the icon, or in this case the cross, with flowers.
We also remembered another very special day in our household: The birth of Zoe Marie.
It is so hard to believe that one year has passed! Alas, she is walking and right in the middle of the two older ones.
Friday afternoon, Katya, Thea and I went shopping for some things for little Zoe to tear into. We went over to the thrift store to see what we could find, and they were having a 50% off sale!!! We were in thrift heaven. All three girls got new dresses-very cheap! Yahoo!
Katherine is my thrift store buddy. We usually sneak out when the two little ones go out for a nap. Since it was Zoe's birthday, Thea wanted to help pick something out, so off we three went. We then went over to the other thrift store (there are several in our town) and that's where we found a stack of board books (in near perfect condition) for Zoe and some big plastic blocks that are mushy. They are really cute. The books were .25 each and the blocks were $1.00 for six. Another score.
We came home, got out the clorox wipes and cleaned up Zoe's goodies. We got them wrapped and waited for her to rip them all back open. We skipped a cake, since September 14th is a strict fast day, and because her godmother told me she was baking a cake for Sunday coffee hour - perfect.
As you can see in the pics, Zoe loved opening the gifts, the girls loved helping her, and I think she liked what she got.
All in all I think we spent about $10.00 and came home with great stuff!
Happy Birthday Zoe, we love you and thank God for you!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
On August 25th we went up to St. Paul's to witness the consecration of their Church. The service was one of the most beautiful services I have ever seen. The consecration prayers with the step by step of putting the altar together by the Bishop and the priests, then the placing of Holy Relics into the altar, followed by a procession around the Church while the priest blesses, was all most profound and beautiful. The service was followed by the Divine Liturgy. It was all just perfect.
I was at the consecration of St. Seraphim in Dallas, but there were hundreds of people and I couldn't see and hear everything. At St. Paul's there were only about fifty people and the Church is relatively small, so I was able to enter more fully into this service. Even my kids were somewhat subdued at this service. It was a very long service, at least three hours, and all three of them watched and listened, with very few interruptions. They seemed to be aware of the Holiness of this service. I was amazed-and thankful.
All of the prayers I found to be beautiful, but I can't type them all here. So, I'll just share this one. If any of you want to read the whole service, I'd be happy to mail it to you.
This prayer is said after the procession around the Church and the blessing of the Church with holy water. The Bishop, priests and faithful are standing outside the front doors of the Church with The Holy Gospel, the cross, the icons and the Holy Relics. Before they enter into the church, the Bishop prays this prayer:
"O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who art blessed forever, who through the veil of His flesh hath renewed for us an entrance into the Church of the first-born, who are written in heaven, where is the abode of them that rejoice, and the voice of gladness: Do thou thyself; O Master who lovest mankind, look upon us, thy sinful and unworthy servants, celebrating the renewal of the honorable Temple of the holy Apostle Paul according to the pattern of the most-holy Church, that is, of our own body, which thou has vouchsafed us, by the all-praised Apostle Paul, to call thy Church and members of thy Christ; and do thou estblish it immovable unto the end of the age, and glorified in thee. And count us worthy that, without reproach, we may offer herein praises and doxologies unto thy glory, and unto the Holy Spirit, with understanding, and with all emotion; and that those who worship thee in the fear of thee may show themselves worthy of thy divine compassions; and that these prayers offered up by us and by all thy people unto thine ineffable deep compassion, may be acceptable unto thy goodness: Through the prayers of our holy, Most-pure Sovereign Lady, the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary."
The pictures are of the procession and the prayers outside the church. Katya and Thea sit on the steps listening to Vladyka pray.
What a blessing is was to be a part of that event!
On Labor Day we had another great picnic at our Church. We have two picnics a year, one on Memorial Day and the other on Labor Day. It's amazing how we seem to have different people at every picnic. This year we had a large number of people come over from St. Sava's in Plano. It was great to meet new people and visit with the one's we already know.
Anyhow, the food was great and there were so many kids. We did face painting, egg toss and water balloon toss, plus we had a bounce house. Too fun!
To top it off, we had Fr. Basil and his three daughters up from Houston. Unfortunately, his Matushka couldn't come (something about school stuff), but we'll take no excuses next time ;). My girls loved having three more girls in the house for a night. Of course their only complaint was that they didn't stay long enough!
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Yesterday was the first day of our St. Theophan the Recluse homeschool. We have chosen Him as our school's patron saint because of his great love for children and wisdom for both young and old. If you've never read his works, do so soon! You will be blessed.
Our schedule will look something like this:
Mon. - Thurs.: Poetry, Reading and Religion (Lives of Saints, Feast days, Bible, etc.)
Mon. & Wed.: Math
Tues. & Thurs. : Arts & Crafts
In addition we will participate in the following activities:
Tuesdays: I will host a group of women and children from our Church to do crafts.
Tuesday afternoons: Katya will join fellow homeschoolers at the roller rink to skate.
Thursday afternoons: Katya and Thea have swim lessons
Friday: Park day with fellow homeschoolers
Friday afternoons story time at the library. We'll also use this time to check out books.
We had a great first day of school. Fr. Justin started the class off with the story of The Prophet Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth, the parents of St. John the Baptist. (The Orthodox church commemorates them on September 5th.) After our discussion, I had the girls draw a picture of the story. We'll do this everyday and I'll save them in a binder. We will begin each class with the girls retelling of the story they heard the day before. My kids love hearing Bible stories from Papa, so he will start our school days with our faith.
We then got out our wooden blocks. I worked with Thea on colors, numbers and letters and Katya worked on creating words. The girls worked really well together. Thea was thrilled to be doing school with big sister.
After blocks was poetry. I got a great book of poetry at the used book store for $2.00 called "An Arkful of Animals" by W. Cole. Katya was sad there were no poems about snakes...Nonetheless, the girls LOVED poetry. We will work to memorize one poem a week.
Katya then moved on to Math and I read books to Thea. We worked closely together so that I could stop and work with Katherine when she needed me.
We are following a classical cirriculum, so the main focus at this point is reading. In the afternoons when the wee ones sleep, Katya and I will work on her reading skills. This will give us quiet, uninterrupted time together. We will continue reading aloud at every opportunity as well as working individually with the girls.
All in all it was a good day.
I am so thankful to be able to homeschool the girls. There are many great reasons for doing so, but for us the most important reason is so that we can make Christ and His Church the center of our lives. Homeschooling will allow us the flexibility we need to attend weekday services and study the Holy traditions to the degree that we want and need.
I ask that God grant me the wisdom, patience and love that I will need to be a good teacher for my girls!