Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Ascension of Our Lord

Troparion (in tone 4): 
O Christ God, You have ascended in Glory, / Granting joy to Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. / Through the blessing they were assured / That You are the Son of God, / The Redeemer of the world!

Happy Feast Day! Today we celebrate the Ascenscion of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven after his Holy Resurrection. It is a gray, cold day outside, but the spirit of the feast can certainly keep our hearts warm.

I am currently plyaing the service from Moscow's Sretensky Monastery loudly through the house (our tradition for every feast), as we prepare for liturgy.

This morning as I read the Prologue from Ochrid (by St. Nikolaj Velimirovic), I ran into an interesting snippet that I felt was worthy of sharing. It doesn't pertain to the feast, but to a Christian life in general.

"A monk complained to St. Arsenius that, while reading the Holy Scriptures, he felt neither the power of the words he read nor any sweetness in his heart. To this the great saint replied: 'My child, just read! I have heard that snake-charmers, when they cast a spell on the snakes, pronounce words that they themselves do not understand; but the snakes, hearing the words spoken, feel their power and are tamed. So with us, when we constantly keep the words of Holy Scripture on our lips; even if we cannot feel their power, the evil spirits, hearing these words, flee in terror, for they cannot abide the word of the  Holy Spirit. My child, just read. The Holy Spirit, who wrote the divine words through those He inspired, will hear and understand, and will hasten to your aid; and the demons will hear and understand, and will flee from you." 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Last Day of Pascha...

Today was the last day of Pascha. Tomorrow's liturgy will celebrate the Apodosis (or the "farewell") to Pascha. Somehow, even though Great Lent flies by each year, Pascha flies by even faster. We are encouraged as Orthodox Christians though, not to be sad at this time, but rather to look forward to the Ascension of our Lord, as well as all the other feasts that await us later on in the year.

When I baked 11 kulichi this year (Russian Easter breads), I did not expect that they would be eaten before the end of Pascha! But alas, they were. I was so devastated that I had finished off the last one a week ago, but my Mama, who came for a visit this past weekend, saved the day by bringing me her last kulich (a Mama's love, I'll say :)) I enjoyed it (and savored it!) with my leftover cheese pascha. I usually tried to eat it when the kids weren't around and I could have it in silence with some tea!

Today would have been my dearest grandfather's birthday. This is the first time we remember his birthday after his death, and I definitely had a few teary moments today when wishing I could call him and sing to him, like he always did to me on my birthday. We prayed for him this morning at prayers though, which is of course, most important. As a little comfort, I made eggs and bacon for breakfast this morning, which was the breakfast he always made for us whenever we would come over to visit. (We always made it a point to visit FOR breakfast, because his eggs could just not be topped! He fried them in bacon grease). Memory eternal, Deda! You are so very missed.

Omelette prep this morning

Monday, May 11, 2015

Help from Above

In an Orthodox home, the most important thing we, parents, need to relay to our children, is of course, prayer. We need to teach our children that we are not all-knowing or all powerful, even as parents. But as life gets crazy and our days get hectic (around here, every day is hectic!) it can be easy to forget to make time for prayer, especially prayer aside from our morning and evening prayer rules. For me, days like those are the ones that are difficult, and the ones filled with the most temptations. When I forget to put God first (which is easy to do in a secularized country especially), I find that I have the hardest days.

One of my greatest comforts is an Akathist to the Mother of God, Nurturer of Children. This Akathist is relatively new in my life but I have been finding that the days I remember to make time to read it, it is a lot easier to stay focused on my children and all of the important things, instead of on secular issues and petty things.

I have shared this once before, but I am sharing it again. I recommend printing out these beautiful prayers (this akathist) and standing in front of any icon, reading it (or singing it) aloud. I have read it in Barnes and Noble before, but I have sometimes read it at home too, right in front of my kids as they play. I hope it can bring other Mamas comfort like it has brought me. I love sticking in my children's really makes it feel so personal!

Click HERE to go to the Akathist.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Happy May!

Christ is risen!

It's finally May! A promising month it always is, because the weather starts to get so much nicer. Lucky for our family, we just got a beautiful wooden fence put up in our backyard (it is less than a week old). We are so thankful to our parish for doing this for us! Outdoor playtime is so much more relaxing now for my husband and I, and the kids have so much space to run circles in (literally - that's what our oldest son loves to do). Mama loves to kick back on our new outdoor swing (a gift from a few families in our parish...thankful yet again!) and watch the kids play with sand, which is their current favorite outdoor activity.

We just got back from New York, where we visited my family for about 10 days and it was really lovely. Then, we had our parish feast day celebration today (the actual feast is this Wednesday, St. George's Day).

Now, I am working on trying to make a more concrete plan for school for our oldest son (who is almost 4.5). I would like to work on a little bit of homeschooling with him come this fall, and see how things go in preparation for Kindergarten. We have no set plans for what we will do regarding Kindergarten and there are many factors to consider. Hopefully, getting a feel for homeschooling this coming fall will help us figure out whether that is something that can work for our family for the future or not. I'm excited to try things out!