Monthly Archives: August 2019

Gleanings from a Book: “The Cross and the Stag” by Gabriel Wilson

Author’s note: Because I happened to be in the right place at the right time, I was privileged to see a few spreads of this book more than a year before its publication. Although they were but sketches when I saw them, I was struck by their quality and the images gripped me. And my first reading of the (now full-color) book has confirmed what I suspected even then: this book is a treasure. 

“The Cross and the Stag” by Gabriel Wilson tells the true story of Placidas the soldier, who, amidst his worldly successes and earthly means, was lovingly faithful to his wife and sons, while also being very generous to those in need outside of his home. Perhaps you have never heard of Placidas the Soldier? He was given the name Eustathius at baptism. If you are not familiar with St. Eustathius, either, his story is one that you will do well to learn. There is much that each of us can learn from this saint: through his responses to both misfortunes and pleasant experiences, and through his faithfulness to God. Eustathius already had a good life when he first met Christ, and he served Our Lord fervently after his conversion.

Just like many saints who had gone on before him, Eustathius’ life did not continue to be “good” – well, at least by worldly standards. However, also like those saints, he remained faithful to Christ for his entire life. Like St. Paul, Eustathius had a powerful visitation from Christ which became a conversion experience for him and his household (although his wife had been mysteriously forewarned in a dream, so she was ready!). Like Righteous Job the Longsuffering, bit by bit Eustathius’ status, wealth, and finally even his family were taken from him. Like Righteous Joseph the Patriarch, his faithfulness in his work eventually brought Eustathius honor (and miraculously his loved ones were restored to him once again, as well). And finally, like the Three Holy Youths, the family faced a fiery entrapment with faith and grace.

Throughout the book, Gabriel Wilson has thoughtfully paired his images and text in a way which seamlessly tells the story while also allowing the reader to read between the lines when necessary. The illustrations are masterfully created, simultaneously communicating actions and emotions in a way that is both tasteful and effective. What a gift it is to have an artist of this caliber offer his work to the Orthodox Christian world in a way that makes a saint’s story so appealingly accessible to people of all ages!

Following St. Eustathius’ story in the book, readers will find the troparion and kontakion for St. Eustathius. There is also a spread featuring a variety of icons of him which have been written. The book concludes with a few historical notes from the author.

St. Eustathius’ story is gripping! I sat down to just begin the book but ended up reading the whole thing in one great gulp. Mystery, suspense, loss, love: all are found on the pages of this beautiful work of art. I know that I’ll read it again, and I suspect that I will not be the only one. There’s something here for everyone. St. Eustathius’ story and the lessons that his life teaches us will be treasured by each individual who reads this book.

To purchase a copy of this book, visit https://store.ancientfaith.com/the-cross-and-the-stag-the-incredible-adventures-of-st-eustathius/

Here are a few gleanings from the book (this time, we are sharing the  quotes in the context of their images), as well as additional information about St. Eustathius:

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On Sept. 20, we commemorate St. Eustathius and his family. Here is a short podcast about them: https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/saintoftheday/sep_20_-_great_martyr_eustathius_placidas_and_his_family

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Find the story of St. Eustathius’ life, along with many icons which have been written to help us remember him, here: https://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/09/st-eustathius-eustace-placidas-great.html

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There’s even more of the story of St. Eustathius (including backstory of his family’s experiences) in this detailed description of his life: https://pravoslavie.ru/74099.html

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In the historical notes at the end of “The Cross and the Stag,” we read that “St. Eustathius is the patron saint of hunters, firefighters, and those who face adversity.” Author Gabriel Wilson also notes that people request St. Eustathius’ prayers when they’re traveling over rivers and seas. Readers facing adverse times (or traveling, hunting, or firefighting) may be glad to learn this, and ask for his prayers.

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A Gathering of Ideas for Preparing for a New School Year

It is nearly the beginning of a new school year for many of our community who live in the northern hemisphere. We have come across some interesting ideas that we thought could be a help to some in our community, and have compiled them to share here. We hope that you will find something useful and helpful to your family.

If your family is among those beginning a new school year, may the Lord bless your transition! May He provide for, guide, and strengthen each child as they learn. May He grant you parents wisdom to know how to support and encourage each child and his/her teacher(s) (even if the teacher is you or your spouse!). May this school year be a year of growth and great learning.

Here are some of the links that we found. Are you able to add any additional ideas? What have you found helpful at the beginning of a school year? Please share it with the community!

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Years ago, we share some ideas of ways to prepare ourselves and our children for the back to school transition. Here is that blog post, in case you missed it and would find some of its ideas/encouragement helpful: https://orthodoxchristianparenting.wordpress.com/2016/08/31/on-the-transition-back-to-school/

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If you and/or your family would like some inspiration for ways to be better organized at home for the school year, check out the huge variety of ideas found here: https://www.thesimplycraftedlife.com/40-back-to-school-organization-ideas/

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Find free printable checklists and labels for back-to-school organizing here: https://www.classyclutter.net/back-to-school-printables/

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While it’s labeled as an “end of year” activity, this free printable “Who am I?” page would be a fun way to measure your children’s growth over the upcoming school year. Allow them to draw themselves and fill in the blanks at the beginning of the year on one copy, and again on a second copy at the end. Then you can look together at the two copies to see how they’ve changed and grown, and how even their handwriting is different! ://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/End-of-the-Year-Activity-Who-Am-I-281581

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Whether your children are going to school, or you are schooling at home, there are lots of ideas here for crafts, snacks, and lunches that will be useful throughout the school year! http://astorybookday.com/30-ideas-for-back-to-school/

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Homeschooling families will find here a delightful collection of ideas of ways to celebrate the start of a new school year. (We especially liked the school supplies treasure hunt idea!) https://rockyourhomeschool.net/back-to-homeschool-first-day/

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These printables, party ideas, and creative plans will help you celebrate the beginning of a school year with your children! https://aslrochelle.com/rochelle-barlow/120-ideas-for-back-to-homeschool

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Any one of these would be a fun way to spend a last-summer-vacation-day or first-weekend-after-school-starts-day!

http://www.sunshineandspoons.com/2016/11/30-random-acts-of-kindness-to-do-with.html

 

Creating Portable Reminders to Pray

St. Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) is simultaneously necessary and difficult. It may be easy for us to read, nod our heads in agreement, and desire to work towards that end in our own life. But how hard it is to actually work out! And it is not any easier for our children, who face many struggles and distractions of their own. We thought perhaps it would be helpful to offer a few ideas of things that you can create which can be carried in a pocket or tucked into a lunchbox, purse, or backpack, or kept in a desk drawer or locker, where they can remind you (and/or your children) to pray. Perhaps one or more of them will help you to pray without ceasing.
 
The first idea is a printable handful of prayers which can be laminated and tucked into the car or a bag; or attached to a desk or locker with magnets.
 
The second idea is a pocket prayer corner. This can be made very simply with paper, contact paper, and adhesive hook and loop fastener. Or it could be created with fabric, clear vinyl, and sewable hook and loop fastener. Either way, the icons and prayer inside the pocket prayer corner can be customized according to the needs of the person who will be praying the prayers. When it’s opened up, the pocket prayer corner can help to turn any space into a prayerful place.
 
The third idea is a tiny diptych with an icon and a prayer (created from a recycled mints tin) which can be kept in a pocket, purse, or backpack; or by adding a magnet to the back, can be kept in a locker or on a fridge.
 

Here are the details for creating each of these items, as well as a few related pages. May the Lord guide each of us and strengthen us as we continue to learn to pray without ceasing!

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Find a printable document featuring prayers which may be helpful for children to pray here. (You may wish to select and print other favorite prayers instead.) Print the prayers you want to carry with you, then cut them out and glue them to colorful paper or cardstock.

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Coat both sides with clear contact paper to seal them.

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Tuck the cards into your car, purse, or backpack. Add adhesive magnets to the back if you wish to display them to a filing cabinet or locker.

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Here are the directions for creating a paper pocket prayer corner:

 

  1. Print this pattern and cut it out.
  2. Trace the outside of the pattern on the plain side of a piece of decorative paper or cardstock. 67900294_10217668947667254_4456868038137872384_nRepeat on a second piece, cut them out, and glue the two together.
  3. Collect small paper copies of the three icons you wish to include in your pocket prayer corner.67699272_10217668947867259_771138807943659520_n
  4. Select a prayer to include. (Perhaps one of these would work.)
  5. Find a cross sticker or print a cross picture for the center of your pocket prayer corner.
  6. Glue an icon in the middle of the top section and in each side section of your pocket prayer corner.68241950_10217668948867284_6567055199456722944_n
  7. Glue the cross in the middle section of the pocket prayer corner.
  8. Glue the prayer on the bottom section of your pocket prayer corner, in the upper portion of it, near the middle section.
  9. If desired, cover the front and back of the pocket prayer corner with clear contact paper, and cut it out.
  10. Fold the sides and top of your pocket prayer corner towards the center, overlapping each other. 67696597_10217668949107290_4196027132289220608_n
  11. Fold the bottom of the pocket prayer corner up over all of these. Bend its extra length over the top, enclosing the whole pocket prayer corner.68530641_10217668948747281_2051609532592816128_n
  12. Use adhesive hook and loop fastener on this extra length to create a way to close your pocket prayer corner. 67890268_10217668950507325_4412182223432712192_n
  13. Carry your pocket prayer corner with you, taking it out and opening it when you are ready to pray!

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Here you can find directions for creating a fabric pocket prayer corner:

  1. Print this pattern and cut it out. 68285307_10217668950347321_3822436596116881408_nTrace the outside of the pattern, adding an extra ½” all the way around for a seam allowance, on the wrong side of two pieces of fabric (or stack both pieces, right or wrong sides together). Cut the fabric.
  2. Collect small paper copies of the three icons you wish to include in your pocket prayer corner.
  3. Select a prayer to include. (Perhaps one of these would work.)
  4. Choose a cross pendant or fabric adhesive cross for the center of your pocket prayer corner. (If you use an iron-on adhesive, be sure to adhere it in place at this point! After this, ironing it will likely melt the vinyl and create a mess.) 67921985_10217668951627353_5445823990784327680_n
  5. Cut pieces of clear vinyl that are ¼” larger at the sides and bottom than each icon and the prayer. 67769097_10217668964067664_470299305459056640_n
  6. Sew the sides and bottom of each piece of vinyl to the interior piece of fabric, using a topstitch that is ⅛” from the edge of the vinyl.
  7. Sew one piece of the hook and loop fastener beneath the vinyl pocket for the prayer on the inside of the cross. 67769354_10217668951587352_983780791932682240_n
  8. Fold the sides and top of the outside of the cross down, towards the middle. Fold the long bottom side up to cover the folded-down top. Turn the cross over so that you can see where the extra fabric at the bottom will meet the back. Pin the other piece of hook and loop fastener here, where it will match with its mate when the two crosses are sewn together.
  9. Sew this piece of hook and loop fastener to the outside of the cross.
  10. Pin the right sides of your two pieces of fabric together. 67788046_10217668950427323_5534486937705906176_n
  11. Sew them together, using a ½” seam, and leaving a stretch of the bottom of the cross open so that you can turn it right-side-out.67789037_10217668950387322_6368491697357193216_n
  12. Clip the fabric off of the outer corners and make one cut toward each inner corner. With these clippings, be careful not to clip the seam at any point.
  13. Turn the cross right-side-out.68500949_10217668951867359_1194176181608382464_n
  14. Hand-sew (or topstitch) the opening at the bottom of the cross, to close it.
  15. Slip the icons into the vinyl pockets at the top and sides of your pocket prayer corner.
  16. Hand-sew the cross in place, in the middle (unless you are using an iron-on adhesive and have previously attached it).
  17. Slip the prayer into the bottom vinyl pocket.68682900_10217668951707355_3767189907802423296_n
  18. Fold the sides and top of your pocket prayer corner towards the center, overlapping each other.
  19. Fold the bottom of the pocket prayer corner up to cover all of these. Bend the extra length over the top, matching the hook and loop fasteners to close the pocket prayer corner.
  20. Carry your pocket prayer corner with you, taking it out and opening it when you are ready to pray!

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67771961_10217668965027688_3140909690938982400_nHere are directions to recycle a mints tin to make a diptych:

  1. Select a pretty paper or cardstock to cover the inside and outside of your tin.67756515_10217668963867659_7702159204034805760_n
  2. Trace the shape of your tin onto the paper and cut four pieces to that shape. 67791382_10217668963947661_1950138151380975616_n
  3. Use mod-podge glue to adhere the paper to the tin.
  4. Select a prayer and a paper icon (or two icons) for your tin. (Perhaps one of these would work.)67728779_10217668963787657_3912977680697393152_n
  5. Cut the prayer and/or icon(s) to size and use mod-podge to glue them into place on the insides of the tin.67738422_10217668963987662_3649369896787116032_n
  6. Coat the outside (and inside, if you wish) paper surfaces with an additional coat of mod-podge glue, to seal them.68371832_10217668965227693_8901369813163573248_n
  7. When the glue is dry, adhere magnets to the back of the diptych if you plan to keep it in a locker or filing cabinet.

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These icon flashcards are a nice size to fit in a pocket or locker, to remind you to pray and that you are not alone: https://www.monasterygreetings.com/product/Orthodox-Flash-Cards/Saints-Icons-and-Images
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Find additional children’s prayers (including ones for when a child or their friend is afraid) in this printable prayer booklet: http://www.saintkassianipress.com/PrayerBook.html

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