Archive for the ‘Virtue Study’ Category

I thank Wendy M. who so kindly offered me her collection of quotes to start this page off with. More will be coming soon.

“But it is not enough for us to abandon our possessions if we do not abandon ourselves as well. What does it mean to abandon ourselves? If we abandon ourselves, where shall we go outside of ourselves? And who is it who departs, if a person has forsaken himself? But we are one thing when we have fallen into sin, and another in the nature with which we were created; what we did is one thing, what we have become is another. Let us abandon the selves we have made by sinning, and let us continue to be the selves we have become by grace.” -St. Gregory the Great

“And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” -1 John 2:17

“The man who is poor in spirit desires and says with his whole heart, Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. It is as though he himself disappears; everywhere and in everything he wishes to see God-in himself and in others. ‘Let everything by Thine, not mine.‘” -St. John of Krondstat

By the word, “world,” we understand everything which is subject to the passions, which is far from God. Here we are fine. Glory to God! We live in the desert of the world-we can go to church, we can converse with like-minded people. Glory to God!-St. Nikon of Optina

“Beware of passionate attachments to the world. Although they deceive you with peace and comfort, they are so fleeting that you do not notice how you are deprived of them, and in their place come sorrow, longing, despondency, and no comfort whatsoever.” -St. Leo of Optina

“Having recognized the truly useless vanity of the world, you should flee from it and seek for yourself a way to fulfill the will of God. But as long as we serve the world, we do not see the darkness of the passions, darkening our thoughts. Being in such a state of blindness, we do not care that by pleasing the world we become violators of the Divine Commandments, and we think by making a few minor corrections we will become true Christians; but in this way, we greatly deceive ourselves, not studying the teachings of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” -St. Macarius of Optina

When a man seeks from a king a measure full of dung he will not only be despised by his despicable request, exposing thus his ignorance, but he also insults the king by his insipid demand. Such also is he who asks corporeal things from God.-St. Isaac the Syrian

Thirst after Jesus. Then He will satisfy you with His love. Shut your eyes to the precious things of this world, then you will be deemed worthy of the peace given by God to reign in your heart. Restrain yourself from the allurements that are shining before your eyes, then you will be deemed worthy yourself to shine with spiritual joy.-St. Isaac the Syrian

Attachment to outward things at once causes coldness towards God and the work of our salvation; coldness towards our neighbor, or hatred and envy toward him, if it depends upon him to give us things, and he does not do so, or if we are obliged to give things to him unwillingly. Therefore it is well to be perfectly indifferent to outward things, in order not to have any occasion for enmity towards our neighbor, which is a great sin. Be above all attachments to this perishable, vain fleeting world; live by your heart in heaven, and love incorruptible blessings prepared for those who love God and their neighbor.-St. John of Kronstadt

That which a man loves, to that to which he turns, that he will find. If he loves earthly things, he will find earthly things, and these earthly things will abide in his heart, and will communicate earthliness to him; if he loves heavenly things he will find heavenly things, and they will abide in his heart, and will give him life. We must not set our hearts upon anything earthly, for the spirit of evil is incorporated in all earthly things when we use them immoderately and in excess. -St. John of Kronstadt

“Do not the angels differs from us in this respect, that they do not want so many things as we do? Therefore the less we need, the more we are on our way to them; the more we need, the more we sink down to this perishable life.” -St. John Chrysostom

“If we mortify our desires, cut off harmful pleasures, and not only allow nothing to remain with us of this world’s goods but actually recognize that we are not our own masters, then we truly make our own the apostle’s words, ‘It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.‘” -Abba Abraham


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In addition to copywork, which the younger children trace and we paste into their virtue journals, and the older children neatly write into their journals, I am also using the quotes I am gathering in language arts worksheets that I am putting together through edhelper.com . This site is only $40 per year (for full access, there is a lot of free stuff available there too) and is really great. I can generate my own worksheets using my own text, in this case, our virtue quotes, both from Scripture and from the Fathers. They can be used in all sorts of language arts exercises including capitalization, punctuation, grammar, etc.

For copywork, I am using educationalfontware.com installed on my computer. It works great too, though now a little more complicated if you have Mac OS X and MSWord 08 (as we do).

BTW, I am slow this month, but hope to get more quotes posted for October’s virtue study on ‘detachment from the world’ soon.

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(Still in development, quotes coming)

Virtue to be studied for the month of October:

Step 2 in the Ladder of Divine Ascent

Detachment from the world

“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” -Matthew 16:26

“and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” -Mark 4:20


  • Week 1: Old Testament saints (possible choices depending on what is most practical and what has already been sufficiently covered): Noah, Lot, Moses, Jeremiah, Daniel, The Three Youths in the Fiery Furnace, Maccabees,
  • Week 2: The Theotokos accepting the scorn of the world for the sake of her obedience to God
  • Week 3: The life of Christ “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know him.” John 1:10
  • Week 4: A survey of saint lives reflecting detachment from the world and her transitory events.
  • Initial preparation:

    Read ‘Step Two’ in “Ascending the Heights: A Layman’s Guide to The Ladder of Divine Ascent” or for young adults if more appropriate, the same chapters in the actual: “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,” by St. John Climacus.” Have children look up the meaning of detachment in a dictionary and discuss. Explain and compare its meaning from a secular context and a spiritual one.

    Week 1: “In the Beginning”

    “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” -1 John 2:17

    • Day 1: Read the story of Noah. Have a discussion on his necessary detachment/separation from the activities of the world around him. What was the world’s response? What was the end result? Explain how the Ark also symbolizes the Church and how sometimes the world may make fun of our own relationship with the Church but we have hope in salvation as Noah did.
    • Day 2: Read or listen to the story of Lot and his wife. Especially discuss Lot’s wife’s inability to fully detach herself from Sodom and Gamorrah.
    • Days 3-5: We will choose from the remaining OT suggestions listed in the overview as we are able.

    Week 2: The Theotokos: a primary example among the saints of detachment

    Quote coming…

    Week 3: Life of Christ, the supreme example of detachment

    “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” -John 8:23

    • Read the Gospel of John

    Week 4: The Lives of Saints as Examples of Detachment from the World

    Quote coming…

    • Each child chooses a saint who epitomizes detachment from the world and reads about him or her
    • Each child narrates, written and/or orally (depending on age of child) what they have read and then discuss how the saint they studied is an example of detachment
    Activities for the month of October
    • Each child builds or paints an object (or objects) for the garden that commemorates what they have studied this month.
    • Photograph objects, print them and have the children paste them as well as copywork quotations and their narrations in each of the children’s Nature/Virtue Journals. Have them decorate the pages using rubber stamps, and scrapbooking supplies

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    More images will be added to this post over time.

    Matthew’s Moses dividing the red sea.


    Palamia’s Serpent from Genesis.


    Matthew did St. John the Baptist, Michael did one monk and one St. Anthony (with a little help).


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    The kids loved making stepping stones. It was like decorating ‘mud pies.’ We first tried it with concrete, but then learned that Sackcrete sand motar was identical to the hobby store stepping stone mix ($4.95 for a sixty pound bag at Lowe’s verses $6.50 for an 8 pound box at Michael’s). Concrete works, but because it includes gravel, it is much more difficult to press letters in that can be clearly read. It also has a different texture. We also discovered that the aluminum tins were good for only two stones each at most. I have since bought the cheapest cake pans available at Walmart (around $2.50 for two). They are sturdy and we can reuse them as much as we need.

    Anyway, here are some pictures of the stones made this week:


    Each child made a ladder and a wee folk doll (the younger children had quite a bit of help). Here is Palamia with hers:


    And then we experimented with Sculpy clay on river rocks (that I also purchased from Walmart in the same section, floral and vases, where I purchased the small stones and glass gems for the stepping stones). There are more done, but it’s too late to upload those pictures tonight.


    I can’t wait until we can begin building our garden trail.

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    Building our ladders:

    We have found a simple solution to building ladders that won’t require my husband since it still will be sometime before he is home from his latest trip. Honestly, I should have scheduled the last week of August to begin this, starting with learning about the Ladder of Divine Ascent then, and using that time to start our journals, build ladders, etc. As it is, we are using our evening family time to get these extras done. At least the kids are enjoying it when Daddy’s gone!

    To build our ladders (each child participating are building their own), I bought 8 36″x1/4″ square dowels at Home Depot. They were $1.45 each. I then bought one package of 150 count Mini Craft Sticks (2 1/2″ x 3/8″) for $1.44 at the Super Walmart. Each child then took two rods and evenly places 30 sticks on it. Either they or I (depending on age) glued the sticks to the rods using wood glue. The ladders were done last night, though the listing of steps still needs to be done. The simplest way to do that, probably will be to write on them directly with permanent pens. I hope to get that done tonight. Then each of the participating children will make a little “Wee Folk” acorn capped doll that will be used to climb the ladder and show where we are in our studies each month.

    Building our stepping stones:

    If you buy stepping stone materials at a craft store, which is what I did for our first stone, it can become quite expensive, particularly if a number of stones are to be made. My children really like the idea of decorating their own stones. So I have found far less expensive materials to do it. I bought an 80 lb sack of premixed concrete from Home Depot (I will post a picture of it later to show brand name). It was just over $6. It is enough to make many, many stones. It is my intent to come up with a recipe that fits each of our stepping stone moulds, and to post that later. I bought inexpensive 8″ diameter foil cake tins at Walmart. A package of 3 cost $1.17. It will be used as the stone mould. And rather than buying the teeny and very expensive bags of mosaic material used for stepping stones at the craft store, I purchased larger bags of colored glass and rocks used for filling glass vases for flowers at Walmart. Their prices ranged from $1.88 to $2.97 per 2 pound bag. I have also been collecting old colored dishes purchased inexpensively at Garage sales, that will be broken into mosaic pieces for stepping stones and mosaics. If you can find a tile place that will let you have their scraps, that would be a good alternative too. For the lettering, I did purchase the press-in stamps at a craft store for around $6. But you could use a stick and write your own letters if you want to keep costs down. For me though, because my writing isn’t that great, it was a worthwhile investment.

    For our virtue journals:

    We are using chalk pastels, again available at larger Super Walmarts, to color the background. A 25 color set cost $5.77. The kids draw some lines with one or several colors, then smudge it in with a small bit of tissue. I then spray it with a matte acrylic spray outside to preserve it.

    I do have a collection of nature stamps that they used and ink pads. Those are not cheap however, though you could always use nature printing instead to cut costs (find interesting leaves outside, or cut vegetables, ink them and stamp with them). They did a background layer and then stamped some leaves and natural objects on top of that. I did pick up some nice stickers at the craft store a while back that they used on their front covers. But Walmart did have some less expensive nature-theme stickers that the children may use for the inside pages. 

    I will post pictures later of some of these items and our finished projects as they are completed.

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    The kids had fun decorating their plain white Miller Small Bare Books Plus (60 page version) into these:




    We will post scans of interior pages as they are completed and we are able.

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