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StAntonyDish
St. Anthony the Great
(A.D. 251-356)
Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)

O Father Anthony, you imitated the zealous Elijah.
You followed the straight paths of the Baptist and became a desert dweller.
By prayer you confirmed the universe.
Wherefore, intercede with Christ our God to save our souls.

Kontakion (Second Tone)

Forsaking the uproars of life O venerable one,
you completed your life in quiet, fully imitating the Baptist.
Therefore, we honor you with him, O Anthony, Father of Fathers.

His Life from the Prologue from Ochrid:

Anthony was an Egyptian and was born about the year 250 A.D. in the village of Koman near Herculea. Following the demise of his noble and wealthy parents, he divided the inherited estate with his sister, who was a minor, and provided for her with some relatives. Anthony distributed his half of the estate to the poor and, he, in his twentieth year, dedicated himself to the ascetical life for which he yearned from his childhood. In the beginning Anthony lived a life of asceticism in the proximity of his village but, in order to flee the disturbances of people, he withdrew into the wilderness on the shore of the Red Sea, where he spent twenty years as a recluse not associating with anyone except with God through constant prayer, reflection and contemplation, patiently enduring unspeakable temptations from the devil. His fame spread throughout the entire world and many disciples gathered around him whom he placed on the path of salvation by his example and words. During the eighty-five years of his ascetical life, only twice did he go to Alexandria. The first time to seek martyrdom during the time of the persecution of the Church and, the second time at the invitation of St. Athanasius, in order to refute the accusation of the Arians: supposedly that he, too, was an adherent of the Arian heresy. Anthony died in the one-hundred fifth year of his life, leaving behind an entire army of his disciples and imitators. Even though Anthony was not a scholar, nevertheless, he was a counselor and teacher of the most learned men of that time, as was St. Athanasius the Great. When certain Greek philosophers tempted him with literary wisdom, Anthony shamed them with the question: “Which is older, the understanding or the book? Which of these two was the cause of the other?” Ashamed, the philosophers dispersed for they perceived that they only had literary knowledge without understanding and Anthony had understanding. Here is a man who attained perfection in as far as man, in general, can attain on earth. Here is an instructor to instructors and a teacher to teachers, who, for a full eighty five years perfected himself and only in that way was he able to perfect many others. Filled with many years of life and great works, Anthony died in the Lord in the year 335 A.D.

(You can read a more detailed description of his life from this Coptic source).
Suggested Activities:
more coming…

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Theophany Fritters

This dessert is traditional among Orthodox in Lebanon and Syria (and their American descendants). The explanation given in The Art of Syrian Cookery by Helen Corey is that the dough was traditionally wrapped in a cloth, “baptized” in a local fountain and then hung in a tree for three days, where it would develop a strain of wild yeast and rise! It would then be used as a source of yeast for baking throughout the new year.

I have never prepared these fritters with a fountain or a tree, so the explanation I always give my children is that the fritters remind us of baptism because they are deep fried—dipped in oil and changed. They then get dipped in sugar syrup, which also looks like a baptism.

The following recipes are paraphrased from Lebanese Cuisine by Annisa Helou.

Sugar Syrup

1.5 cups sugar

0.5 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon rose water

1 tablespoon orange blossom water [Using both flower waters is lovely, but if you only have one on hand, just double the quantity and use that one.]

Put sugar, water and lemon juice in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, occasionally stirring. Leave to boil for 3 minutes then stir in flower waters and boil for a few more seconds. Take off heat and leave to cool. It must be completely cool before use in the next recipe. However, if you are not planning to use it the same day, it can be stored in the refrigerator in a glass container for up to two weeks. Let it warm back up to room temperature before using it.

Fritters

Full recipe sugar syrup

1 cup all purpose flour

1.25 cups yogurt

.25 teaspoon baking soda

vegetable oil for frying

Prepare the syrup, keep in the pan and have it on hand to drop the fritters into when they are ready.

Sift flour into a mixing bowl, then add yogurt and baking soda. Whisk until well blended and smooth, then cover and leave to rest for 45 minutes.

Fill a medium-sized frying pan with enough vegetable oil to deep fry the fritters and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot (drop in a little batter, if the oil bubbles around it, it is ready), dip a dessert spoon in a little cool oil, fill it with batter and then drop the batter into the oil. Ideally, the fritters should be round, but this takes a fair bit of practice. Drop in as many fritters as can fit comfortably, stir to brown them evenly, until they become golden all over. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a double layer of paper towels before dropping in the syrup. Turn a few times in the syrup and remove onto a serving dish.

These fritters should be eaten right away, once they reach room temperature. They do not store well.

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A new idea is being developed that will allow us to celebrate Theophany as a season rather than just a day. It is based off the Jesse Tree idea, where a short selection of Scripture is read and a hymn is sung each day. Then children make an edible symbol using either marzipan or fondant (fondant is the recommended choice for those with nut allergies) colored with food dye. The season of Holy Theophany begins on January 6/19 and extends until January 14/27 with its leavetaking. A symbol will be made each day and then placed on a cake with light blue frosting (to represent water) to be consumed on the evening of the Leavetaking of Theophany on January 14/27.

(more…)

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A.D. 330-379

Kontakion

You became for the Church a solid foundation,

and for all mankind strengthened by your teaching,

you became a harbor of refuge,

O Venerable Basil who reveals heaven’s mysteries!

 

vasilopita

 

Vasilopeta Cake

 

According to The Complete Book of Greek Cooking, page 208:

Vasilopeta is a cake made in honor of Saint Basil, whose feast day is January 1. Cakes differ in the various regions of Greece: some are a type of bread, others a type of rich yeast cake, others are flat, made of cookie dough. The cakes may differ, but all include the customary hidden silver coin. It symbolizes good luck to the person who finds the coin in his piece of cake…The following recipe is the most traditional version.

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds, or pistachios)
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Cream butter and sugar together until light. Add flour and stir until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir baking powder into milk and stir into egg mixture. Mix baking soda and lemon juice and stir in. Mix well.Pour into a greased round layer cake pan 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. Bake for 20 minutes. Slip inside cake, a coin wrapped in aluminum foil. Sprinkle with nuts and sugar and bake for 20 to 30 minutes longer, or until cake tests done. Cool 10 minutes in pan and invert onto serving plate. Serve right side up.

Personal note: Our family actually uses an 11 x 3 spring roll pan and it takes us longer, more like an hour and a half, to bake this vasilopeta recipe. In our experience, this recipe requires significantly more volume in pan size than what is stated.It is a tradition to take these cakes or loaves of bread to church to be blessed after the liturgy for St. Basil the Great.

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Fifth Century

Troparion – Tone 1

O holy Brigid, you became sublime through your humility,
and flew on the wings of your longing for God.
When you arrived in the eternal City and appeared before your Divine Spouse, wearing the crown of virginity, you kept your promise
to remember those who have recourse to you.
You shower grace upon the world, and multiply miracles.
Intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion – Tone 4

The holy virgin Brigid full of divine wisdom,
went with joy along the way of evangelical childhood,
and with the grace of God attained in this way the summit of virtue.
She now bestows blessings upon those who come to her with faith.
O holy Virgin, intercede with Christ our God
that He may have mercy on our souls.
From oca.org:

Saint Brigid, “the Mary of the Gael,” was born around 450 in Faughart, about two miles from Dundalk in County Louth. According to Tradition, her father was a pagan named Dubthach, and her mother was Brocessa (Broiseach), one of his slaves.

Even as a child, she was known for her compassion for the poor. She would give away food, clothing, and even her father’s possessions to the poor. One day he took Brigid to the king’s court, leaving her outside to wait for him. He asked the king to buy his daughter from him, since her excessive generosity made her too expensive for him to keep. The king asked to see the girl, so Dubthach led him outside. They were just in time to see her give away her father’s sword to a beggar. This sword had been presented to Dubthach by the king, who said, “I cannot buy a girl who holds us so cheap.”

St Brigid received monastic tonsure at the hands of St Mael of Ardagh (February 6). Soon after this, she established a monastery on land given to her by the King of Leinster. The land was called Cill Dara (Kildare), or “the church of the oak.” This was the beginning of women’s cenobitic monasticism in Ireland.

The miracles performed by St Brigid are too numerous to relate here, but perhaps one story will suffice. One evening the holy abbess was sitting with the blind nun Dara. From sunset to sunrise they spoke of the joys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and of the love of Christ, losing all track of time. St Brigid was struck by the beauty of the earth and sky in the morning light. Realizing that Sister Dara was unable to appreciate this beauty, she became very sad. Then she prayed and made the Sign of the Cross over Dara’s eyes. All at once, the blind nun’s eyes were opened and she saw the sun in the east, and the trees and flowers sparkling with dew. She looked for a while, then turned to St Brigid and said, “Close my eyes again, dear Mother, for when the world is visible to the eyes, then God is seen less clearly by the soul.” St Brigid prayed again, and Dara became blind once more.

St Brigid fell asleep in the Lord in the year 523 after receiving Holy Communion from St Ninnidh of Inismacsaint (January 18). She was buried at Kildare, but her relics were transferred to Downpatrick during the Viking invasions. It is believed that she was buried in the same grave with St Patrick (March 17) and St Columba of Iona (June 9).Late in the thirteenth century, her head was brought to Portugal by three Irish knights on their way to fight in the Holy Land. They left this holy relic in the parish church of Lumiar, about three miles from Lisbon. Portions of the relic were brought back to Ireland in 1929 and placed in a new church of St Brigid in Dublin. The relics of St Brigid in Ireland were destroyed in the sixteenth century by Lord Grey during the reign of Henry VIII.

The tradition of making St Brigid’s crosses from rushes and hanging them in the home is still followed in Ireland, where devotion to her is still strong. She is also venerated in northern Italy, France, and Wales.





Born the daughter of an Irish chieftan circa 453 AD Saint Bridgid became a nun whose desire was to relieve the misery and hardship of the poor. Her feast day, the date of her death is February 1st. The popular tradition of the woven St Bridgid cross is believed to have begun during a visit by Bridgid to a dying pagan chieftan. To illustrate the significance of the Christian faith she quickly wove a simple cross from the rushes strewn on the floor covering of the time. From this time on the woven rush cross has become synonymous with the Saint. Commonly hung over the doorway in many Irish homes it is believed to bless and bring luck to every person who crosses the threshold.

Directions for making a St. Bridgid Cross:

Contributed by Aleksandra:

We made the St. Bridgit Crosses last year out of the paper twists and they turned out nice. The great St. Columba who was apostle to the Scots of Scotland, when he was sailing to his monastery on the Isle of Iona, was caught in a great storm. He called upon Christ and His saint Brigit to calm the storm and his prayers were answered. After that, he wrote an ode to the saint, from which the following troparion is composed: “Pure virgin and flame of the Lord, O Brigit, guide to the Eternal Kingdom, deliver us, by the prayers, from the throngs of demons and the storms of life, and pray to Christ God that our souls be saved.” Above taken from her story in “Lives of Saints for Young People, Vol.5“, Synaxix Press. There is also a drawing of her in the book which the children copied and colored. It was a nice alternative to “Valentine’s Day” and we know a lot of Brigits!

Contributed by St. Michael’s Orthodox School:

Celebrating the Feast of St. Brigid

We celebrate the St. Brigid’s Day, each year on February 1, by making Irish Soda Bread and butter. Sometimes we also make other crafts, but we always make the bread and butter, tell the story of her life and sing the troparion in her honor. We often have tea with our bread and butter. We also make extra to give away, to emphasize caring for others and hospitality, as the saint did.

Here is a Life of St. Brigid, and here is a recipe for the Irish Soda Bread. We hope you enjoy reading her life and making Irish Soda Bread and butter. It is a delightful custom.There are several sites with more information about this saint, and a lovely icon at ComeAndSeeIcons.com.

Recommended resources:

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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.)



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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.

    snowflake.jpg

    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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