Monthly Archives: March 2015

Learning Lenten Vocabulary

There are so many terms that we Orthodox Christians use which are unfamiliar to the rest of the world. The Lenten season is certainly no exception to this rule, as we enter into the Triodion, celebrate Cheesefare/Meatfare, attend Presanctified Divine Liturgies, and more. It is appropriate for us to review what these Lenten terms mean, and it is especially important for us to make sure our children understand them! This blog will offer basic definitions of Lenten terminology, and point us to places where we can find more information about each term.

Triodion: “The Triodion [is a season of preparation for Pascha which] begins ten weeks before Easter and is divided into three main parts: three Pre-Lenten weeks of preparing our hearts, the six weeks of Lent, and Holy Week. The main theme of the Triodion is repentance—mankind’s return to God, our loving Father.” from http://www.antiochian.org/fasting-great-lent.

“The Triodion” is also what we call the book which contains the variables for the divine services during this time of the Church year. It’s actually called ‘Triodion’ because there are only three odes in the canons during this season; rather than the usual nine.” ~ by Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/explanationoftriodion.htm. You can find each day’s section of the Triodion here: http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/prayers/triodion/triodion.html.

Meatfare: “Meatfare” is the day we say “farewell” to meat, before the fast begins. Read more about Meatfare from St. Theodore the Studite, at http://www.antiochian.org/catechesis-st-theodore-studite-meatfare-sunday.

Cheesefare:  “Cheesefare” is the day we say “farewell” to cheese, before the fast begins. Read more about Cheesefare Sunday and find links to even more about it at http://www.antiochian.org/cheesefaresunday.

Clean Monday: “Clean Monday” is the name given to the first day of the Lenten fast. Read more about this day, including how it is traditionally celebrated in Greece, and find some Greek Lenten recipes here: http://orthodoxtraditions.blogspot.com/2014/02/clean-monday-menu.html.

Fasting: “Fasting” means not eating specific (or, sometimes, all) food. We fast to remind ourselves that “man does not live by bread alone,” that spiritual things are so much more important than physical things. Adam and Eve first sinned by eating, so we choose to not eat, to help us to also remember not to sin. Read more about fasting here: http://www.antiochian.org/fasting-great-lent. Find quotes about fasting from church fathers and contemporary writers as well here: http://www.antiochian.org/taxonomy/term/1146.

Compline: “Compline” means “at the end of the work day” or “after supper” and is a service of Psalms and prayers appropriate for reflecting on the day and asking God’s guidance and blessing on the night ahead. You can find the lenten compline service here: http://www.antiochianladiocese.org/files/service_texts/great_lent/great_compline/Great-Compline-LENT.pdf.

Presanctified Divine Liturgy: “The Presanctified Divine Liturgy  is an evening service. It is the solemn lenten Vespers with the administration of Holy Communion added to it. There is no consecration of the eucharistic gifts at the presanctified liturgy. Holy Communion is given from the eucharistic gifts sanctified on the previous Sunday…” Read more about the Presanctified Liturgy at http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/worship/the-church-year/liturgy-of-the-presanctified-gifts.

Akathist: The “Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God” is so named because “the word ‘akathistos’ literally means ‘not sitting,’ i.e., standing; normally all participants stand while it is being prayed. The hymn is comprised of 24 stanzas, alternating long and short… As the hymn progresses, various individuals and groups encounter Christ and His Mother. Each has his own need; each his own desire or expectation, and each finds his or her own particular spiritual need satisfied and fulfilled in Our Lord and in the Mother of God. So too, each generation of Orthodox, and each particular person who has prayed the Akathist, has found in this hymn an inspired means of expressing gratitude and praise to the Mother of God for what she has accomplished for their salvation.” You can find more information about the Akathist Hymn to the Theotokos, along with the hymn itself, at http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/m_akathist_e.htm.

Prostration: is a full bow to the ground with the knees touching the ground, and the head touching or near the ground, then immediately standing back up. As the bow to the ground is begun, the sign of the cross is made. Some people touch their knees to the ground first and then bend their upper body down, and the more athletic or coordinated essentially ‘fall’ forward to the ground  with their knees and hands touching at essentially the same time. This is very similar to the familiar gym class ‘burpee’.” ~ from http://www.orthodox.net/greatlent/o-lord-and-master-of-my-life-prayer-of-st-ephrem-01.html.

Prayer of St. Ephraim: This prayer is also called the “Lenten Prayer,” and originated with St. Ephraim the Syrian, who lived in the fourth century. Fr. Alexander Schmemann calls it “a checklist for our spiritual lives” and emphasizes that this prayer, along with other spiritual disciplines of Great Lent, can help us to be freed from basic spiritual diseases that make it almost impossible for us to turn toward God. Here is a  blog that offers insights into the prayer of St. Ephrem, quoting Church Fathers and Orthodox authors: http://modeoflife.org/the-lenten-prayer-of-saint-ephraim-explained/.

Holy Week: “Holy Week” is a week that truly lives up to its name: it is the holiest week of the Church year; there are many holy services to attend during the week; and we should all be very holy by the time we arrive at Holy Week, having just been through the discipline of Great Lent. The Rev. George Mastrantonis says that “Holy Week… institutes the sanctity of the whole calendar year of the Church. Its center of commemorations and inspiration is Easter, wherein the glorified Resurrection of Jesus Christ is celebrated.” He goes on to compare Holy Week to a sanctuary, that (because of the preparation of Lent) we enter “not as spectators, but as participants in the commemoration and enactment of the divine Acts that changed the world.” Read more of his explanation here: http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8432. Find details about each service that we celebrate during Holy Week here: http://www.antiochian.org/1175027131.

Lamentations: “…the Lamentations refers to the Funeral Service for our Lord. It is actually the Orthros (Martins) for Saturday morning. The Lamentations is the form of a poetic dirge sung antiphonally by two or more groups of people. It is made up of a large number of verses divided in three long stanzas. As one stanza ends, the other begins with a different music. It sees that they were introduced not earlier than the 13th century. The author of these Lamentations is said to be St. Romanos Melodos. The Lamentations are also called Encomia, hymns of praise…” ~ Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/explanationoftriodion.htm.

Pascha: “Pascha, the name by which Orthodox Christians know the yearly celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, comes from the Hebrew word for ‘Passover.’ In the Old Testament, the Hebrew people ‘passed over’ from slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land, with Moses at their head. But this event was only a foreshadowing of something bigger and better to come. In the New Testament, the whole human race ‘passed over’ from slavery under the devil in sin and death to freedom in grace and eternal life, with the risen Christ as its head!… That is why Pascha is our greatest joy and brightest hope as Orthodox Christians! It is the cornerstone of our faith and the main point of the good news we have for the rest of the world. But Pascha is not just the remembrance of something that happened long ago and far away. It has happened to us in our lifetime too. Baptism was our personal Pascha. It made Christ’s death and resurrection our own: our old sinful selves were put to death and buried in its holy waters, after which we were raised up out of them, washed clean of sin and born again to a new life in him.”

Read more about Pascha here http://www.htoc-fl.org/downloads/pascha.pdf, and refresh your memory of how the Pascha service goes with Fr. Thomas Hopko’s article about it here: http://www.feastoffeasts.org/node/55.

Bright Week: “Bright Week” begins on the Sunday of Pascha and ends on Thomas Sunday. It may be called that because the newly baptized people were now illumined, or bright. Also, they wore white all week, so sometimes it is called “White week.” Bright week is a happy time of celebrating Pascha, and the whole week, the doors to the altar are left open as a happy reminder of the torn veil that opened the Holy of Holies in the Temple after Christ’s death, as well as the open stone that led to the empty tomb! Read more about Bright Week here: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/04/what-is-bright-week.html.

Here are some ideas of ways to help your children learn their Lenten vocabulary words:

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Teach the Lenten vocabulary words one at a time. The best way to teach new words is as they come up in conversation (or, in this case, as you anticipate hearing them being used at church). Generally speaking, children learn new terminology better when it is used in context instead of just randomly taught. As you teach each word, ask the children what they already know about it. What do they remember from other years? Try to build as much of a framework around the word as possible for them to “hang the word on.” Then fill in whatever they’ve missed in the definition.

As you begin this learning experience, from time to time, ask your children what one of the words which you already talked about means. Or, give them a definition and see if they can provide the Lenten vocabulary word that fits that definition. Before too long, they will know all of these terms and be able to correctly apply them.

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Apply the vocabulary words by making posters about them. Write each Lenten vocabulary word on a sheet of paper or poster paper. Work together to compile magazine picture collages or to draw sketches that remind you of what each word means. (The illustration could be a silly thing like someone waving at a piece of cheese for “Cheesefare,” etc.) Be creative, and then post your work in a place where you will see it and be reminded of the meanings of these words throughout the Lenten season.

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Personalize the vocabulary words by making small vocab books for each child. Make booklets for each child, writing one lenten vocabulary word on each page. As you discuss the words’ meanings, have each child draw or write in their own words to remind themselves of the definitions.

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Practice the vocabulary with card games. Make a set of playing cards by printing one of the Lenten vocabulary terms on a set of blank cards. Make a second set with a basic definition printed on each one. Use the cards in one of these two ways:

  1. Play “memory” with them. Mix all of the playing cards well, and turn them upside down so that all that can be seen is the back of the card. Lay the cards out in even rows. Take turns turning two cards face-up. If you find a pair, you keep it and go again. If not, turn the cards back upside down again, and play moves on to the next player.

    2. Play a matching game with the cards: Mix both sets of cards together, and pass out a few to each player (number will vary by number of players), leaving at least one card per player upside down on a “draw” pile. When it is his turn, a player asks another for a word (if he has the definition in his hand) or the definition (if he is holding the word). If the asked player has the card being asked for, he must turn it over to the asker. If not, the asker should draw a card from the “draw” pile (until the draw pile runs out). As soon as a player makes a matching pair, she lays the pair down on the table in front of her. Play continues until all matches have been made. The player with the most matched pairs wins the game. (Actually, all players who have learned their Lenten vocabulary are winners!)

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Play an active game with the vocabulary words after everyone knows their meanings. Print one Lenten vocabulary word each, in large print, on sheets of paper until all of the words have their own sheet. Print the definitions on smaller cards. In a large open area (perhaps outside?), scatter the sheets of large-printed-vocabulary-word-papers around the playing area. One person is the “caller.” The caller holds the smaller cards and, one by one, reads one definition. As soon as a player recognizes the word whose meaning is being read by the caller, the player runs to that word. Points can be awarded in two ways (decide before beginning play): a) Every person who goes to the correct word gets a point. b) The first person who gets to the correct word gets a point. (Or, to combine the two, everyone who goes to the correct word gets one point, and the first person there gets two points!) The person with the most points at the end of the caller’s stack of definition cards is the winner.

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Lenten Learning: St. John Climacus

The fourth Sunday of Great Lent is called “The Sunday of St. John Climacus.” Together as a family, let us study the life of St. John and find out why we commemorate him on this day. There are many ways in which we can learn about him Here are two of them: Watch a 2-minute video about St. John of the Ladder, which introduces him and his book as well as the icon which we will venerate; and ends with a challenge to young people to keep climbing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VTtpllgQTk. We can also read about his life and see pictures of the cave where St John Climacus lived, here: https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/the-cave-of-saint-john-of-the-ladder/ or here: http://myocn.net/blessings-desert-st-john-ladder-climacus/ Would you believe that we do not actually even know St. John Climacus’ family name?!? Climacus is a Greek word that means “of the Ladder.” He is so named because of the book that he wrote primarily for ascetics. The book is also both challenging and helpful to lay people, and it is called The Ladder of Divine Ascent. St. John Climacus is known for what he lived, taught, and passed on; not for where (or who) he came from. We do know that St. John was a monk who chose to live his life to the fullest for Christ, beginning at an early age. He was only 16 years old when he went to live at St. Catherine’s Monastery. When he was 20, he was tonsured a monk. One source mentioned that his elder waited those four years to tonsure him in order to test his humility. He lived as a monk for more than 70 years, many of those years in solitude, in a “cave” which was actually a small shelter formed by boulders: a truly humble dwelling. He lived a life of humility. We also know that St. John’s pursuit of holiness has influenced the lives of Orthodox Christians for every century since he walked on earth. His words in The Ladder of Divine Ascent (which he wrote because the abbot of another monastery asked him to do so) encourage all of us to continue our journey towards the Kingdom of God. His entreaty that we “let the remembrance of Jesus be present with each breath” has challenged Orthodox Christians to live their lives in hesychasm, or the quietness that leads a person to God through constant prayer. (This constant prayer has come to be known as the “Jesus Prayer.”) He humbly led his monks and all Orthodox Christians since then, passing down tools that we can use to grow deeper in our faith. So, what can we learn from what we know about St. John Climacus? How can we apply that learning in our family life? 1. Perhaps we can begin by emphasizing to our children how important it is for Orthodox Christians to live in a way that leads others towards God. Our family name is important to us, but how much more important is the name “Christian?” Let us evaluate how well our family is living up to that name, consider how our life is impacting those around us and those who will follow after us, and take steps to “kick it up a notch.” 2. Another thing we can do after studying the life of St. John Climacus is encourage our children to live godly lives wherever they are! We need to support them in their pursuit of the Faith, doing all that we can to incorporate them into the life of the Church, to be involved with the Sunday Church School and JOY/SOYO, etc. We should help our children attend Orthodox Christian summer camp so that they can meet other Orthodox kids and be strengthened in their faith. We must invest in icons, books, music, etc. that will help to point our children towards the Faith. We also need to encourage our children to offer themselves to God for His service, whether that happens now (serving in the altar, choir, etc.) or later in life (as short- or long-term missionaries, as monastics, or as clergy). Regardless of their age, when our children take steps like this, whether they are small or large steps, let us support them and humbly let them go. 3. We can pursue holiness together as a family by using the tools that St. John Climacus left for us. We can continue to pray constantly, pursuing hesychasm with more fervor. We can read The Ladder of Divine Ascent and study the steps with our children. (Download the book here: http://www.prudencetrue.com/images/TheLadderofDivineAscent.pdf. Listen to Fr. Thomas Hopko’s podcast about it here: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/4th_sunday_of_lent_st_john_of_the_ladder. Or read this new book that takes a look at each of the steps of St. John Climacus’ Ladder of Divine Ascent: http://store.ancientfaith.com/thirty-steps-to-heaven. Print a copy of the basic steps of the ladder to hang in your home as a reminder: http://saintannas.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/30-Steps-of-Ladder.pdf. Read about the icon of the Ladder of Divine Ascent here: http://saintannas.org/sunday-of-the-ladder-of-divine-ascent/.) As we practice constant prayer and daily continue our ascent of the ladder, we will become more like Christ.

“Ascend, brothers, ascend eagerly, and be resolved in your hearts to ascend and hear Him who says: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of our God, who makes our feet like hind’s feet, and sets us on high places, that we may be victorious with His song. Run, I beseech you, with him who said: Let us hasten until we attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, who, when He was baptized in the thirtieth year of His visible age, attained the thirtieth step in the spiritual ladder; since God is indeed love, to whom be praise, dominion, power, in whom is and was and will be the cause of all goodness throughout infinite ages. Amen.” St. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, p. 129

Following are quotes from St. John Climacus: *** “The memory of insults is the residue of anger. It keeps sins alive, hates justice, ruins virtue, poisons the heart, rots the mind, defeats concentration, paralyzes prayer, puts love at a distance, and is a nail driven into the soul. If anyone has appeased his anger, he has already suppressed the memory of insults, while as long as the mother is alive the son persists. In order to appease the anger, love is necessary.” *** “Let your prayer be completely simple. For both the publican and the prodigal son were reconciled to God by a single phrase.” *** “It is impossible, someone says, impossible to spend the present day devoutly unless we regard it as the last of our whole life. And it is truly astonishing how even the pagans have said something of the sort, since they define philosophy as meditation on death. This is the sixth step. He who has mounted it will never sin again. Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin [Ecclesiasticus/Wisdom of Sirach 7:36].” *** “If you want to overcome the spirit of slander, blame not the person who falls, but the demon that prompted them to sin.” *** “Do not say, after spending a long time in prayer, that nothing has been gained; for you have already gained something. And what higher good is there than to cling to the Lord and persevere in unceasing union with Him?” *** “The first stage of this tranquility consists in silencing the lips when the heart is excited. The second, in silencing the mind when the soul is still excited. The goal is a perfect peacefulness even in the middle of the raging storm.” *** “Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honour your patience.” *** “When our praisers, or rather our seducers, begin to praise us, let us briefly call to mind the multitude of our sins, and we shall find ourselves unworthy of what is said or done in our honor.”  

On the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross

The third Sunday of Great Lent is also called the “Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross.” It is strategically placed at this point of Great Lent for several reasons, and offers us the opportunity to refocus on where we are headed during the Lenten season. Let us prepare our hearts for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, and help our children to prepare their hearts as well.

The synaxarion for the third Sunday of Great Lent begins, “Let all the earth venerate the Cross, through which it has learned to worship Thee, the Word.” Do our children understand what it means to venerate the cross? Before we go to the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross, let us talk with our children again about veneration. The conversation could include this:

1. What is veneration? (It is a way to use our bodies to show that we respect and honor something or someone because of the way that Christ has shone through it/them. The love and respect that we show by veneration does not go to the person or object that we are venerating, but to Christ Himself, because it is His holiness that we are honoring, as modeled/exemplified in what/who we are reverencing.)

2. How do we physically venerate something? (There are different ways to do so, including kissing, bowing, and prostrating. Sometimes we venerate something or someone with a combination of these.)

3. There are several times in the year when we venerate the Cross. Why do we venerate the Cross of Christ on this Sunday? (The Synaxarion says, “Since during the forty days of the Fast we are also in a way crucified, mortified to the passions, contrite, abased and despondent, the precious and life-giving Cross is offered to us as refreshment and confirmation, calling to mind the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and comforting us. If our God was crucified for our sake, how great should be our effort for His sake, since our afflictions have been assuaged through the Lord’s tribulations, and by the commemoration and the hope of the Cross of glory. For as our Savior in ascending the Cross was glorified through dishonor and grief, so should we also endure our sorrows, in order to be glorified with Him. Also, as those who have traveled a long hard road, weighed down by the labors of their journey, in finding a shady tree, take their ease for a moment and then continue their journey rejuvenated, so now in this time of the Fast, this sorrowful and laborious journey, the Holy Fathers have planted the life-giving Cross, for our relief and refreshment, to encourage and make easier the labors that lie ahead. Or as when there is a royal procession, the king’s scepter and banners precede him, and then he then himself appears, radiant and joyous in his victory, causing his subjects to rejoice with him. So then our Lord Jesus Christ, desiring to show His sure victory over death and His glory on the day of the Resurrection, sends His scepter before Himself, the sign of His kingship, the life-giving Cross, to gladden and refresh us, as it greatly fortifies and enables us to be prepared to receive the King with all possible strength, and to praise Him in His radiant victory.” In other words, the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross is at this point in Lent to encourage us to persevere in our efforts to put to death our passions; to refresh us and rejuvenate us in the shadow of the cross; and to hold it up before us all as Christ’s victory banner.)

The reasons for the placement of the Veneration of the Holy Cross that are mentioned in the Synaxarion are great word pictures for us to share with our children. They can understand the need to rest in the shade of a tree on a hot day and the sheer joy of raising up a banner in triumph. The Synaxarion for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross continues to show us why this Sunday was chosen for the veneration of the Holy Cross, as it goes on to remind us of two stories in the Old Testament Scriptures, as well:

  1. The Synaxarion reminds us of the story in Exodus 15: 23-25: “The Fast is like a bitter source because of our contrition and the sadness and sorrow for sin that it brings. And as Moses plunged the branch in the bitter waters of Marah, making them sweet, so God, Who has led us through the spiritual Red Sea away from Pharaoh, through the life-giving wood of the precious and life-giving Cross, sweetens the bitterness of the Forty Day Fast, and comforts us as those who were in the wilderness, up until the time when by His Resurrection He will lead us to the spiritual Jerusalem.”
  2. It also alludes to Genesis 3: “And since the Cross is called, and indeed is, the Tree of Life, it is the very tree that was planted in the Garden of Eden. So it is fitting that the Holy Fathers have planted the Tree of the Cross in the middle of the Forty Day Fast to commemorate both Adam’s tasting of its sweet fruit and of its being taken from us in favor of the Tree of the Cross, tasting of which we shall in no way die, but will have even greater life.”

Reviewing all of these stories and “word pictures” will help us and our children to be more ready to venerate the Holy Cross. Let us also take a moment to practice the act of veneration with our children, so that they will know what to do and be better able to fully participate in this important day. Together, let us all venerate the Cross of our Lord and God and Savior.

“Oh Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance,

Granting to Thy people victory over all their enemies,

And by the power of Thy cross

Preserving Thy Kingdom!”

 

The following are additional resources regarding the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross:

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Learn more about the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross here: http://lent.goarch.org/sunday_of_the_cross/learn/

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Read an excerpt from Alexander Schmemann’s Great Lent on the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross here: http://www.antiochian.org/great-lent-excerpts/mid-lent

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Listen to the Gospel reading for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross. It’s told in easier language for younger children here: http://audio.ancientfaith.com/letusattend/2015-03-15-Mk08-Younger-B.mp3 and read for older children here: http://audio.ancientfaith.com/letusattend/2015-03-15-Mk08-Older-B.mp3. Find accompanying printable handouts here: http://www.antiochian.org/sites/default/files/2015-03-15-b.pdf

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Fr. Thomas Hopko offers a podcast reflection of the Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross here: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/sunday_of_the_cross

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Craft a fancy “flowered” display for one of your family’s crosses as demonstrated here: http://craftycontemplative.com/2012/03/22/lenten-spring/

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Send a fellow Orthodox Christian an e-card of the Holy Cross, encouraging him/her to press on through this Lenten season. http://www.iconograms.org/sig.php?eid=1083

Lenten Learning: St. Gregory of Palamas

The second Sunday of Great Lent is known in the Orthodox Christian Church as the Sunday of St. Gregory of Palamas. There is much to learn from the life of St. Gregory! The way that he lived his life on earth teaches us and our children how to live a truly Christian life.

St. Gregory was born to a wealthy family, but loved God and the Church so much even from childhood that he joined the monastic ranks at a young age. He also convinced many of his family members to do the same! He is known for his life of prayer and his theological wisdom, which came about as a result of that life of prayer. Let us learn more about St. Gregory so that we are better able to teach our children about his life, and then let us work together to apply our learnings and become more Christlike, as he was.

Here are a few resources that can help us to learn about St. Gregory of Palamas’ life:

Here are a few resources that can help us apply what we are learning about St. Gregory’s life:

Learning about the life of St. Gregory of Palamas can greatly strengthen our theological understanding. Teaching our children about his life will aid our appreciation for the way that he lived his earthly life as we see his deep love for God and how that translated into his daily life. Finding ways for our family to emulate his life will help us to work toward godliness, as well. Let us approach this week of Great Lent, seeking to live our lives in godliness, as did St. Gregory of Palamas.

 

Troparion (Tone 8)

O light of Orthodoxy, teacher of the Church, its confirmation,

O ideal of monks and invincible champion of theologians,

O wonder working Gregory, glory of Thessalonica and preacher of grace,

always intercede before the Lord that our souls may be saved.

 

Following are quotes from St. Gregory of Palamas:

“Let not one think, my fellow Christian, that only priests and monks need to pray without ceasing and not laymen No, no; every Christian without exception ought to dwell always in prayer.”

“For our love for God is demonstrated above all by the way we endure trials and temptations.”

“When we strive with diligent sobriety to keep watch over our rational faculties, to control and correct them, how else can we succeed in this task except by collecting our mind, which is dispersed abroad through the senses, and bringing it back into the world within, into the heart itself, which is the storehouse of all our thoughts?”

“It is pointless for someone to say that he has faith in God if he does not have the works which go with faith. What benefit were their lamps to the foolish virgins who had no oil (Mt. 25:1-13), namely, deeds of love and compassion?”

“If from one burning lamp someone lights another, then another from that one, and so on in succession, he has light continuously. In the same way, through the Apostles ordaining their successors, and these successors ordaining others, and so on, the grace of the Holy Spirit is handed down through all generations and enlightens all who obey their shepherds and teachers.”

“… Adam chose the treason of the serpent, the originator of evil, in preference to God’s commandment and counsel, and broke the decreed fast. Instead of eternal life he received death and instead of the place of unsullied joy he received this sinful place full of passions and misfortunes, or rather, he was sentenced to Hades and nether darkness. Our nature would have stayed in the infernal regions below the lurking places of the serpent who initially beguiled it, had not Christ come. He started off by fasting (cf. Mk. 1:13) and in the end abolished the serpent’s tyranny, set us free and brought us back to life.”

“Prayer changes from entreaty to thanksgiving, and meditation on the divine truths of faith fills the heart with a sense of jubilation and unimpeachable hope.”