Thursday, January 16, 2020

St. Emmelia South - Festal Food Traditions Workshop


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Cheesefare week - Maslenitsa

Tradition of the Vasilopitaorthodoxmom Sylvia's Recipe (The yia yia at our parish makes a huge pan, placing at least 20 coins in it so lots and lots of folks can get a coin.) This include includes a recipe, but if that one doesn't suit you, there are plenty of variations! When you serve it, Sylvia explains how to cut the pieces. We can eat those special pieces, they are just "in honor of".

Saint Fanourios

What to include in a Pascha Basket


Lenten Lunch Ideas (includes hummus & other spreads)
Millions of Meal Ideas

Fasting Menus

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Dormition Archives - Stephen Morris, author
Dormition Fast 

Nativity Fast and Another One

Koliva (Children's Workshop)

Koliva (Memorial Wheat)    

Monday, November 11, 2019

Advent Fast Menu

Need a little inspiration for the kitchen?

Here's a 2019 Advent Fast Calendar. Many of the items are linked to recipes. Let me know if you need any help with the other dishes.

If you've never made homemade pizza, Auntie Leila will make you feel like you can't screw up. 
I take her method (don't measure!) and add a can of beer to replace some of the water. It does take a while to rise, but the actual hands on time is not that long. Something about hot homemade crust makes the fasting toppings more special (bearable....).

Please let me know if you have a great meal idea!


My daughter's godparents introduced us to this easy, kid-friendly, fasting staple. Everyone likes this dish because the ingredients are served on the table like a salad bar: make it how you like it!

What makes this awesome? Caramelized onions!


Tostada shells  
refried beans (canned or homemade)
caramelized onions (like for m'jeddrah - dark and yummy!)
diced tomatoes

Optional Sides:
Cilantro Mexican Coleslaw (substitute vegan ingredients - it works!)
Cilantro Soy Cream (like spicy flavored sour cream)

Monday, September 23, 2019

Catechism - Age of Triumph

Our Catechism for the Age of the Patriarchs (Antiquity) worked so well last year in helping us to remember the important stuff, that we are doing it again! If you want to learn more about using this teaching method, see samples, and understand how to write your own, I highly recommend this book by Joshua Gibbs. Certainly, much of the catechism below came straight from him! We simply read it every school day aloud together, the four of us: 16 yo, 12 yo, 7 yo, and me.

Catechism for the Age of Triumph (Middle Ages)

 Gentlemen, what are you?       
I am a king, for I rule myself.
Ladies, what are you?
            I am a queen, for I rule myself.
What does it mean to rule yourself?
I am free to do good. I am not the slave of my desires. St. Basil interprets the power to rule given to man in terms of taming the beasts, birds etc as well as in terms of the rule over passions and thoughts. He describes anger, greed, hypocrisy, lust, and other passions, as beasts and asks the question: “Have you truly become ruler of beasts if you rule those outside but leave those within ungoverned? You become like God through kindness, through endurance of evil, through communion, through love for another and love for the brethren, being a hater of evil, dominating the passions of sin - that to you may belong the rule.”
Who has made you kings and queens?
“Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, the we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (From St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, chapter 8)
What keeps you from being kings and queens?
The vices: pride, avarice, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, sloth, being a slave to the passions.
What does it mean to be human?
                The virtues include Faith, Hope, Love, Obedience, Wisdom, Justice, Courage, and Temperance, which is Modesty, Self-control, Chastity, Humility
 Why should we seek virtue?
St. James asks, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ And he was called the friend of God.
Dante teaches that righteousness is wanting what is good, not merely knowing what goodness is; if a knowledge of goodness is not married to a desire for righteousness, mere knowledge profits a man nothing.
St Cyril of Alexandria says, “The Lord of all therefore requires us to be thoroughly constant in our exertions after virtue, and to fix our desires upon the better and holy life, setting ourselves free from the distractions of the world… that we may serve Him continually, and with undivided affections.
How can I know if I am gaining virtues?
                Fr. Seraphim Rose writes in Christ the Eternal Tao,

The man of the highest virtue
Is like water which dwells in lowly places
In his dwelling he is like the earth, below everyone.
His heart is immeasurable.

What did Boethius teach about the good life?
No man is rich who shakes and groans, convinced that he need more (26). No man is so completely happy that something somewhere does not clash with his condition (30). Remember, too, that all the most happy men are over-sensitive. They have never experienced adversity and so unless everything obeys their slightest whim, they are prostrated by every minor upset. So nothing is miserable except when you think it so, and vice versa, all luck is good luck to the man who bears it with equanimity (31). The more varied your possession, the more help you need to protect them, and the old saying is proved correct, he who hath much wants much (35). Decide to lead a life of pleasure, and there will be no one who will not reject you with scorn as the slave of that most worthless and brittle master, the human body (60).

What does Dante’ teach about wasting our lives away in petty amusements?

Put off this sloth, for shame!
Sitting on feather-pillows, lying reclined
Beneath the blanket is no way to fame-
Fame = character

Fame, without which man’s life wastes out of mind,
Leaving on earth no more memorial
Than foam in water or smoke upon the wind.

How does Beowulf approach his rule?
“I feel no shame, with shield and sword
And armor, against this monster: when he comes to me
I mean to stand, not run from his shooting 
Flames, stand till fate decides
Which of us wins. My heart is firm,
My hands calm: I need no hot
Words. Wait for me close by, my friends.”

Then Beowulf rose, still brave, still strong,
And with his shield at his side, and a mail shirt on his breast, 
Strode calmly, confidently, toward the tower, under
The rocky cliffs: no coward could have walked there!

How can we fight so as to find victory?
                “For we do not wrestle against principalities, against flesh and blood, but against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (Ephesians 6 and 2 Corithians 10) Our weapons also include obedience, the Jesus Prayer, prostrations, and confession.

What is the Medieval timeline:
The Apostolic Era: 33 AD through 90 AD
The Age of early Martyrs: 90 AD through 313 AD
313 AD: Constantine issues the Edict of Milan and legalizes Christianity
325 AD: The Council of Nicaea confirms the dogma of the Trinity and creates the first half of the Nicene Creed.
330 AD:  Constantine founds the new capital of the Roman Empire on the existing site of the ancient Greek city Byzantium: Byzantium was renamed Constantinople and it would become the capital of the Byzantine Empire.

395 AD: The Roman Empire divides in half, with the Eastern Roman Empire based in Constantinople and the Western Roman Empire based in Rome/Ravenna.
381 AD: The 2nd Ecumenical Council in Constantinople condemns Arianism and defends the two natures of Christ: fully Divine and fully Human. It also completes the 2nd half of the Nicene Creed.
431 AD: The 3rd Ecumenical Council in Ephesus rejects Nestorianism and confirms that we should call the Virgin Mary Theotokos - not Christotokos - because she was the bearer of God (not merely a man).
451 AD: The 4th Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon confirms the visible organization of the Church into five sees: Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem - all with Apostolic foundation.
400 - 500 AD: St. Patrick is a missionary in Ireland; while in Italy, Ss. Benedict and Columba found many monasteries and write about how to be rulers of a monastery and how to have a monastic rule. Augustine of Canterbury goes to Kent to convert England. King Clovis of the Franks converts to Christianity.  During the Late Antique period, the pagan, barbarian hordes on the outskirts of the Roman Empire slowly move into Roman space. Though the Western Roman Empire falls, the Eastern Roman Empire continues and is called The Byzantine Empire.
553 AD: The 5th Ecumenical Council (2nd in Constantinople) condemns monophysitism, which falsely claimed Jesus had only one nature.
590 – 1440 AD: The Medieval Era
637 AD: Jerusalem is conquered by Islamic forces.
680-681 AD: The 6th Ecumenical Council (3rd in Constantinople) defeats Monothelitism, which conceded that Christ had two natures, but erroneously taught that he had only one will. This council upheld the teaching of St. Maximus the Confessor, who taught that Christ is to be glorified in his two natures, wills, and energies.
693 AD: The Muslims attack Constantinople and over the next 300 years, the Muslims attack all over the Empire – Africa, Greece, Syria - gaining ground in many lands.
787 AD: The 7th Ecumenical Council (2nd in Nicaea) triumphs over iconoclasm, defends the Incarnation of Christ and restores the proper place of icons in worship.
800 AD: Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor without the blessing of the Christian Emperor in Byzantium, & for the first time in 300 years there is an Emperor in the East and in the West.
800s AD: In England, Alfred the Great defended England against the Viking invasions, made an agreement with them known as Danelaw, and oversaw the conversion to Christianity of the Viking leader Guthrum. He translated many Church Fathers & much literature - including Boethius - into English.

1054 AD: Schism caused by the Roman Pope against the Eastern Patriarchates of the Church.
1095 AD: The Byzantine Emperor appeals to Urban II at the Council of Piacenza for help against the Turks. The First Crusade is proclaimed at Council of Clermont. The Crusaders are successful, but eventually withdraw from cooperation with the Byzantines.
1204 AD:  The Fourth Crusade turns against the Eastern Church and plunders Constantinople.
1440 AD: Joannes Gutenburg invents the printing press; the Modern Era begins.
1453 AD: Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans. End of the Byzantine Empire. The French defeat the English in the 100 Years War.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Middle Ages Book Club

reprinted from my article in our Church newsletter...

I have many, many times seen... that
someone is led from their experiences with
good (and it’s got to be good) imaginative
fiction to an encounter with Christ.
(Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)

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Some people read old books because they
have grown to cherish them. Others read the
classics because they know they should love
them, but don’t, and want to try. St. John
Chrysostom reminds us that the
“primary goal in the education of children is to
teach, and to give examples, of a virtuous life.”
Many adults are returning to the classics
because they realize that their own childhood
education lacked this primary ingredient of
virtue, and they want to explore more
examples of a virtuous life.

There happen to be a handful of members of
our St. Nicholas family who love literature and
plan to gather together to help each other
learn from great works. We will meet about
every six weeks for a discussion, with optional
weekly meetings to listen to expert lectures or
read aloud from difficult passages. Classical
works of literature, also known as “Great
Books,” are said to be a part of a “Great
Conversation.” The authors talk to each other
over the centuries, they struggle with the big
questions of their time and place, the big
questions of humanity, and they invite us to
understand them and contribute to the
conversation by talking back to them and to
each other.

Do these books replace reading the Lives of
the Saints, the Scriptures, or the Fathers? Of
course not, but God often uses them to
cultivate something in the soil of our soul that
helps us to better understand the more
spiritual writers. Fr. Seraphim Rose often had
his novice monks listen to a symphony or read
Dickens, because he knew those things would
enrich the young men and help them better
receive more direct spiritual teaching. He had
sense enough – as well as personal
experience as a student at UCBerkley - to
realize what a different way of seeing the world
our modern secular culture has engrained in
us through our music, our art, our TV, our
stories. When I taught at Ruston High, I had
many students tell me, “The only thing that I
know I can believe in is what I can see, taste,
touch, smell, or hear. Otherwise, it doesn’t
exist!” They were actually just repeating a
mantra common to our age – material things
are what matter.

The folks in the Middle Ages thought much
differently. They believed that there existed a
spiritual realm, every bit as real and effectual
in their daily lives as the material realm. When
we read their works we are refreshed with a
basic, normal way of seeing the world – a way
that we could easily forget, or at least have
smudged, by our own age that has
purposefully tried to remove all talk of
religious, spiritual truths from the public
square. Even claiming that one Truth exists
could earn disdain. How can we learn virtue
when we swim in a fishbowl of a society that
often calls vice a virtue and looks down on true
virtue? We walk around in it, read it, breath it,
hear it every day.

So we read the old books to remind us of old
truths. St. Basil explains this connection with
reading “profane” writings and understanding

"Into the life eternal the Holy Scriptures lead us,
which teach us through divine words. But so
long as our immaturity forbids our
understanding their deep thought, we exercise
our spiritual perceptions upon profane writings,
which are not altogether different, and in which
we perceive the truth as it were in shadows
and in mirrors. Thus we imitate those who
perform the exercises of military practice, for
they acquire skill in gymnastics and in dancing,
and then in battle reap the reward of their
training. We must needs believe that the
greatest of all battles lies before us, in
preparation for which we must do and suffer all
things to gain power. Consequently we must
be conversant with poets, with historians,
with orators, indeed with all men who may
further our soul’s salvation. Just as dyers
prepare the cloth before they apply the dye, be
it purple or any other color, so indeed must we
also, if we would preserve indelible the idea of
the true virtue, become first initiated in the
pagan lore, then at length give special heed to
the sacred and divine teachings, even as we
first accustom ourselves to the sun’s reflection
in the water, and then become able to turn our
eyes upon the very sun itself. (St. Basil the
Great, Address to Young Men on the Right
Use of Greek Literature, IV, emphasis added)
That is what our little book club is about –
becoming conversant, joining the Great
Conversation, with poets, historians, and all
men who may further our soul’s salvation."

Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick confirms the
value of this endeavor, “All truth is God’s truth,
wherever it is found...Why do we need to limit
our search for God only to ‘official’ Church
sources? He is everywhere. That does not
mean that we accept everything we read
uncritically, but like the bee (as per St. Basil)
we take whatever is good from each flower.”

What flowers will we be exploring this year?

The Consolation of Philosophy


Sir Gawain & the Green Knight

The Inferno


The Tempest

It just so happens that many of these books
explore the question of how to be a good ruler,
and particularly, how to rule oneself. Of
course, that is just one of many themes and
questions we will discuss. Anyone interested in
reading these works (high school & above) is
welcome to join us, either for the whole year,
or just for one book. Be on the lookout for the

final schedule.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Lenten Menu 2019

Breakfast Rotation:

Muffins (with Beans) or Regular Muffins

Oatmeal or Chia Pudding

Protein Smoothie

Banana Bread

Baked Oatmeal


Scrambled Tofu

Lunch Rotation:

Fries w/ Baked Beans

Pizza (either w/ Vegan Cheese or with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Veg)

Pasta Salad or Viniagrette Potato Salad


Cabbage Soup (but with Veggie Boullion)

Red Lentil Soup

Boca/MorningStar/Hilary (for those who can't have soy)

Popcorn Shrimp (from freezer) Po-boys

Bean Burritos

Dinner Rotation

Nana's Shepherd's Pie (Shhh! Don't tell - my kids think their grandmother invented this recipe!)

Stuffed Mushrooms (these are the BEST! I think I'll bring them to a Pre-Sanctified Potluck)

Bean Pot Soup over Rice (15 bean mix w/o packet; add sauteed onion, 1 can rotel and juice of 1 lemon when beans are done cooking)

Wet Burritos

Shrimp Etouffee (Emeril is the Best! Just sub vegan margarine)

Chickpea Nuggets with Spinach Zucchini Bake

Jambalaya (thanks, Christina)

Hatian Beans & Rice

Spinach Queso over Rice

Alton Brown's Winter Vegetable Soup - it's so good!



Veggies with Hummus (you have to scroll down a little)

Apples with Peanut Butter

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Let's Keep the Saints Out of Retirement!

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St. Nektarios of Pentapolis once said (after his repose), "It's as if we saints are in retirement... The people don't pray to us, don't entreat us, don't ask us for anything, don't give us any handiwork to do. They don't give us the opportunity to pray to God for them."
Surely we can find some way to call him out of retirement!
November 9 is the feast of St. Nektarios. Orthodoxwiki tells us that, "St. Nectarios was born on October 1, 1846, in Selymbria in Thrace to a poor family.  At the age of 14 he moved to Constantinople (Istanbul) to work and further his education." When looking at the Akathist hymn, we get a beautiful picture of this transition:
"When Thou didst leave home and travel to Constantinople, thou didst labor in the midst of worldly distractions. Yet thou didst not forsake the Faith, which dwelt first in thy grandmother and mother and also dwelt in thee."
Let us ask St. Nektarios to pray for our young adults, as they transition into leaving home and travelling out into the great, big world. May they, like him, not be drawn into the earthly distractions even though they be surrounded by them. May the Faith of their childhood still dwell in their hearts!
The Akathist continues:
"Steadfastly dedicating thyself to prayer and to the sayings of the Fathers, thou didst write these sayings on packages and wrappings so that others might read them and receive spiritual profit." 
St. Nektarios scribbled little words of inspiration on the backs of packages in the store where he worked, little surprises for customers to find later. May he also send fitting sayings of the Fathers to our young adults, leading them towards spiritual profit. May he help them to steadfastly dedicate themselves to prayer.
What if our young adults make unwise decisions, as surely they must be tempted to, as surely we ourselves do too? Let us give a little more work to St. Nektarios, whose Akathist claims, "Rejoice, thou who makest wise the unwise by the teachings!" and "Rejoice, good guide of men!"
St. Nekatrios, guide us to draw near to our Lord Jesus Christ!

Monday, August 13, 2018

Catechism for Ancient Literature and History - Age of the Patriarchs

Inspired by Joshua Gibbs, I have undertaken to write a similar text for oral recitation for our Homeschool this year. We are studying the Ages of Grace cycle entitled Age of the Patriarchs,
using the Prologue schedule, and the K-1st Grade Reading List available in the Ages of Grace facebook group and whatever materials we can create -- like this High School Curriculum.
What you see below is a work in progress and I welcome feedback from other parents and teachers.

My children range from ages six to fifteen, so I have revised this mini-recitation within the
larger one for the six-year old. He will just stand with us and listen to the rest.

Students stand and read aloud in unison, each from their own copy. However, the teacher says the Elementary timeline and the students repeat it.

When is Ancient History?
Our Ancient History covers roughly 6000 years before the time of Christ - Before Christ is shortened to BC.

What is the Elementary Timeline? (with hand motions)
Creation, Fall, Flood over all                      (Children Echo)
2000 BC Abraham, Isaac Jacob                    (Children Echo)
1000 BC Joseph, Egypt, Slavery, Moses                 (Children Echo)
Joshua-Conquest, Judges                     (Children Echo)
Kings, Divided Kingdom                         (Children Echo)
700 BC Exile to Assyria - Homer writes Epics in Greece        (Children Echo)
600 BC Exile to Babylon - Daniel and the 3 Holy Youths        (Children Echo)
500 BC Return under Persia                     (Children Echo)
Shhh.. 400 years of silence from the Bible             (Children Echo)
Meanwhile.... 300 BC Alexander the Great             (Children Echo )
100 BC The Roman Empire                    (Children Echo )
20 BC Virgil writes his stories                    (Children Echo )
Anno Domini - follow that star - in the Year of our Lord        (Children Echo )

What is the Upper School Timeline?

2300 BC The Flood destroys all but Noah and the Ark
2100 BC Job suffers long
2000 BC  Abraham the Patriarch follows God to a new land

There he begat Isaac, who begat Esau and Jacob, who begat 12 sons, one of them Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt and joined by his family in 1670 BC.

1550 to 1069 BC  Egyptian Empire reigns
1445 BC Moses leads God’s people out of Egypt

1405 BC Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land
1398-1050 BC The Judges rule Israel

1050 BC Israel’s first King - Saul - is annointed followed by David and Solomon.
930 BC Israel is divided into two kingdoms.

884-612 BC Assyria is a world empire
723 Israel is taken captive to Assyria and the prophet Isaiah lived.
700-800s BC Homer - in Ancient Greece - wrote down the epic stories his people passed on from generation to generation around campfires - The Iliad and The Odyssey.

612-539 BC Babylon is a world empire and attacks Jerusalem, Daniel and the three Holy Youths are taken captive to Babylon, Hezekiah and Jeremiah lived, and the book of Ezekial was written.
539-331 BC Persia is a world empire, and the Israelites return home to re-build the temple. This is the time of Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah.

400s-500s BC, Ezra and the Great Assembly complete the canonization of the Old Testament.

400s BC Theatre is born as Sophocles writes his famous Oedipus plays to entertain and instruct worshippers gathered at the temples of Greek gods and goddesses for feasts.

336-323 BC Alexander the Great builds and rules his Macedonian Greek Empire.

63 BC Roman troops occupy Judea and Jerusalem falls.

44 BC Julius Caesar is assassinated.

37 BC Herod becomes King of Judea through Rome.

27 BC Roman Empire rises.

Around 20 BC, Virgil writes the epic poem, The Aeneid.

Around the year 1 - Anno Domini - The Year of Our Lord - Christ is born!

We shorten Anno Domimi to AD

How did our Lord Jesus use the Old Testament?

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Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, Jesus expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
How do we as Christians use the Old Testament?
We see Christ.
Also, we find in the Old Testament an opportunity for repentance and for spiritual encouragement.
For repentance - we see ourselves in the sins of the people, as we pray in the C anon of St. Andrew: “Like the Israelites in the desert, thou hast made a foolish decision, O my soul; for thou hast preferred the pleasures of gluttony and passions to the refreshment of divine manna.”
For encouragement - we find examples to inspire us in our spiritual life: “The ladder seen of old by the great Patriarch Jacob is an example, O my soul, both of ascent through action and of ascent through spiritual understanding. Watch, O my soul, and take courage like the Great Patriarch Jacob of old, that thou mayest acquire action with spiritual understanding, and be named Israel, ‘the mind that sees God’; and so shalt thou penetrate the impassable darkness through contemplation, and obtain a great treasure as thy reward.”
What are the chief aids to opening our hearts to this great treasure?
    Prayer, fasting, performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
How should Christians read the literature of the pagans?
St. Basil suggests that “Since the life to come is to be attained through virtue, chief attention must be paid to those passages in which virtue is praised. In the pagan literature virtue is lauded in deeds as well as in words, wherefore one should study those acts of noble men which coincide with the teachings of the Scriptures. Young men must distinguish between helpful and injurious knowledge, keeping clearly in mind the Christian's purpose in life.”
What is the Christian’s purpose in life?
Our purpose is to be unified with God, to become truly human, acquiring the mind of Christ.
What does School have to do with this?
School is a tool to seek the infinite God in the world He created, to learn the ability to see reality and the habits that are required to live within reality (and not to fight against it)*. School can be a part of our transformation, our theosis.

Since it is so easy to lose focus on this, what must we do?
St. John of Kronstadt explains, ““The Christian, who is called to a heavenly country, who is only a stranger and a sojourner upon earth, ought not attach his heart to anything earthly, but should cling to God alone, the Source of life, our resurrection, and the Life eternal.”
“We are Achaians coming from Troy, beaten off our true course by winds from every d irection across the great gulf of the open sea, making for home.” Homer- The Odyssey

What are the virtues that will enable us to attain the life to come, our eternal home?
Humility, Generosity, Chastity, Gentleness, Temperance, Joyfulness, Diligence
What are the vices?
Pride, Anger, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Envy, Gluttony
What might we tell ourselves when we get angry?
“Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, though it hurts us, and beat down by constraint the anger that rises inside us. Now I am making an end of my anger. It does not become me, unrelentingly to rage on.” ― Homer, The Iliad
How should we strive?
    Elders Barsanuphius and John encourage, “We are praying for you; and do you, according to your strength, acquire humility and submission. Do not insist on any occasion that it should be done according to your will, for from this anger is born; do not judge and do not belittle anyone, because from this the heart grows faint and the mind is blinded, and from this negligence appears and unfeelingness of heart is born. Keep ceaseless vigil, learning in the law of God, for through this the heart is warmed by heavenly fire; do not be despondent and do not weaken. God does not demand of you what is beyond your strength, but demands labor to the extent possible.”
“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.” ― Homer, The Iliad
What if we don’t want to struggle?
“The gates of Hell are open night and day; smooth the descent and easy is the way.”
“Even his griefs are a joy long after to one that remembers all that he wrought and endured.”
“The best things, the things we treasure most, come through difficulties. If we ignore the
difficulties, we are neglecting the true joys.”
His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH

How can we acquire humility?
    O Jesus meek and humble of heart, hear me:
From the desire of being esteemed,
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being sought,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humbled,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of being rebuffed,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
Deliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That others may grow in the opinion of the world and I diminish,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred before me in everything,
That others may be more holy than I, provided I am as holy as I can be,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

*This is from Andrew Kern's podcast Ask Andrew. I didn't make the kids memorize his name but I do want to give him credit for the lovely idea.