Archive for January, 2008

St. Valentine’s Day

Mosaic image from this site

Orthodox icon image can be found at ComeAndSeeIcons.com

St. Valentine’s Day is not an Orthodox holiday, since his feastday for us is celebrated on July 6th. But in order to ‘redeem the time’ and ‘sanctify the day’ it might be useful to post some ideas for family activities that can be glorifying to God.

Life of St. Valentine from oca.org: Commemorated on July 6

The Holy Martyrs Valentinus the Presbyter, Martha, Marinus, Audifax, Habakkuk, Cyrenus, Asterius and many others with them at Rome.

During the reign of the emperor Claudius II (268-270), St Marinus together with his wife Martha and their sons Audifax and Habakkuk journeyed from Persia to Rome, to pray at the graves of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. During this time fierce persecutions and executions befell the Roman Church. St Marinus and his wife and sons helped Christians locked up in the prisons, and also to request the bodies of executed martyrs. At one of these jails they met a prisoner named Cyrenus and they helped him, since he had endured many torments for faith in Christ.

The persecution spread, and even more Christians were arrested. During this time 260 Christians, among whom was the tribune Vlastus, had been sent under the court sentence to dig ground along the Salerian Way, and were executed by archers. When they learned about this vicious murder, Marinus, his family, and the presbyter John went by night and took the bodies of the martyrs to be buried in the catacombs. They returned later to the prison where St Cyrenus was incarcerated, but did not find him. He had been executed the day before and his body was thrown into the Tiber River. Doing their holy duty, Sts Marinus and Martha and their sons took the body of the holy martyr from the river and committed it to the earth. The holy workers were among Christians, who continued secretly to perform the divine services under the leadership of the holy Bishop Callistus, and hid them from their pursuers.

In consummation of their great charitable deeds the holy family was deemed worthy to glorify the Lord by martyrdom. The pagans beheaded the courageous confessor Valentinus the Presbyter, and the imperial gardener Asterius who had been converted by him, and the holy ascetics from Persia were arrested and given over to torture. By order of the emperor, Sts Marinus, Audifax and Habakkuk were beheaded in the year 269, and St Martha was drowned in a river.

The relics of the holy saints are in Rome at the Church of St John the Hut-Dweller, and the relics of St Valentinus are in the Church of the holy Martyr Paraskeva.

  • Read the Life of St. Valentine (from a Roman Catholic source).
  • Use the day as an opportunity to learn about Orthodox teaching regarding courtship and marriage.


Orthodox curriculum and books on marriage:


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Matthew 5:23-24

If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.
Bread stamps available at: Prosphora.org

From prosphora.org:

In the ancient Tradition of the Orthodox Church, Holy Mystery of Communion is carried out through the mediums of wine and leavened bread. The bread is specially baked for the purpose of communion, and it is called “Prosphora” (meaning “that which is offered” in Greek.)


From Prosphora Baking Saints:

The Monks Spiridon and Nikodim, Prosphora-Makers of Pechersk (XII), for 30 years fulfilled their obedience — they baked prophora. The Monk Spiridon came to the monastery during the time of the hegumen Pimen (1132-1141), already no longer young a man. The ascetic combined his work with unceasing prayer and the singing of psalms. Even during his life the Monk Spiridon was glorified by miracles. An instance is known, when he extinguished his mantle which had caught fire from the oven — the fire was put out, but the mantle remained whole. Saint Nikodim toiled together with the Monk Spiridon and led a very strict life. Their relics are located in the Antoniev Cave. The fingers of the right hand of the Monk Spiridon are positioned together three-fingered.

Resources for teaching children about prosphora and how to bake it:

It is possible to request from the priest, extra antidiron (the blessed bread handed out after the Divine Liturgy). This then can be cut up into small cubes and dried in a 200 degree oven until it is the texture of small croutons. It can be consumed, one cube per person per day, along with holy water after morning prayers. The following prayer can be said at this time:

Prayer Before Consuming Prosphora and Holy Water

O Lord my God, may Thy holy gift and Thy holy water be unto the enlightenment of my mind, unto the strengthening of my spiritual and physical powers, unto the health of my soul and body, unto the taming of my passions and weaknesses, according to Thy limitless mercy, through the prayers of Thy Most-pure Mother and of all Thy Saints. Amen.

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Blessed Xenia, a homeless wanderer of the city of St. Peter

Troparion to St. Xenia, in the Fourth Tone

Having renounced the vanity of the earthly world,

Thou didst take up the cross of a homeless life of wandering;

Thou didst not fear grief, privation, nor the mockery of men,

And didst know the love of Christ.

Now taking sweet delight of this love in heaven,

O Xenia, the blessed and divinely wise,

Pray for the salvation of our souls.

  • To learn more about St. Xenia, read here.
    • For copywork in GDI (other fonts coming), click here.
    • For an activity appropriate for midwinter and appreciating the cold she must have endured living outside in St. Petersburg, we are making fried tortilla snowflakes.


    Fold small tortilla in fourths.
    Cut out pieces to make it look like a paper snowflake.
    Fry in hot oil.
    Drain and sprinkle with powder sugar.

    (Warning: Frying in oil is extremely dangerous, particularly with children. Please use caution and constant supervision)

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    In those areas fortunate to have enough Orthodox families to have local get-togethers and possible co-op projects, this sounds like a fun one:

    Group Sunpainting Project


    This could be a wonderful activity where girls make their own headscarfs, whether for church or in preparation to visit a monastery. To read more specific instructions on how to do this: click here.

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    The Holy Theophany of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

    Celebrated January 6th/19th



    When You, O Lord, were baptized in the Jordan,

    The Worship of the Trinity was made manifest!

    For the voice of the Father bore witness to You,

    And called You His Beloved Son!

    And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,

    Confirmed the truthfulness of His Word.

    O Christ our God, who has revealed Yourself

    And has enlightened the world, Glory to You!


    Today You have appeared to the universe,

    and Your Light, O Lord, has shone on us,

    who with understanding praise You:

    You have come and revealed Yourself,

    O Light Unapproachable!


    • To learn more about Theophany and for suggestions of family activities to celebrate.
    • For coloring pages , including instruction on Theophany for children.
    • For lined paper designed especially for Theophany (good for copywork).
    • For patristic texts appropriate for older children:
      • This article on baptism could be used to teach older students the Orthodox understanding of the Sacrament of Baptism

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