Today, September 11, is the day the Orthodox Church commemorates St. Euphrosynos the Cook! His life is a wonderful example to us of humility and long suffering (his full story is at the end of this post). I learned of St. Euphrosynos when we first became Orthodox because I saw his icon in many Orthodox kitchens. This is one in a vast treasury of customs that I have learned to cherish about the Church; having his icon in my kitchen reminds me to rejoice in what I consider my daily labors, especially when those labors seem to go unnoticed. Most days, my labors do go unnoticed because my children come right behind me and undo what I have just done! Can anyone else relate?! Fortunately, God gives us this work as a service and a ministry to our family, and hopefully we can see it as a benefit to our souls.
In school today, I read the story of St. Euphrosynos while the boys colored his icon. I was also able to find a few props around the house to jazz it up a bit. After reading, I asked what happened in the story and the boys said, “He cooked and then he ran away!” Haha! Luckily, the follow up was that he ran away because the big deal should have been about God and not him.
We then did a fun apple craft, which was inspired by Jeannie at Creative Hands. I ended up using laminating pouches instead of contact paper. The tissue paper didn’t stick as much as I would have liked, but we got it worked out in the end!
The last thing we did was a scavenger hunt of sorts. It occurred to me that the kids see icons around our home every day, but they may not know who the saints are or why we have them. What a wonderful learning opportunity! Once I told them we had an icon of St. Euphrosynos in the house, it was a mad dash to find him! Of course they went to our prayer corner first…no luck. I had to coax them a bit with some clues, but we finally remembered that he was a cook and his favorite place was the kitchen! Eureka!
Next year, I will hopefully have purchased the book The Boy, A Kitchen, And His Cave: The Tale of St. Euphrosynos the Cook, by Catherine K. Contopoulos to add to our celebration. I would also liked to have made a yummy apple dessert for tonight, but alas, the boys ate my apples during story time!!
St. Euphrosynos, pray for us!
Below is an account of the life of St. Euphrosynos from the OCA website :
Saint Euphrosynus the Cook was from one of the Palestinian monasteries, and his obedience was to work in the kitchen as a cook. Toiling away for the brethren, Saint Euphrosynus did not absent himself from thought about God, but rather dwelt in prayer and fasting. He remembered always that obedience is the first duty of a monk, and therefore he was obedient to the elder brethren.From the OCA website:
The patience of the saint was amazing: they often reproached him, but he made no complaint and endured every unpleasantness. Saint Euphrosynus pleased the Lord by his inner virtue which he concealed from people, and the Lord Himself revealed to the monastic brethren the spiritual heights of their unassuming fellow-monk.
One of the priests of the monastery prayed and asked the Lord to show him the blessings prepared for the righteous in the age to come. The priest saw in a dream what Paradise is like, and he contemplated its inexplicable beauty with fear and with joy.
He also saw there a monk of his monastery, the cook Euphrosynus. Amazed at this encounter, the presbyter asked Euphrosynus, how he came to be there. The saint answered that he was in Paradise through the great mercy of God. The priest again asked whether Euphrosynus would be able to give him something from the surrounding beauty. Saint Euphrosynus suggested to the priest to take whatever he wished, and so the priest pointed to three luscious apples growing in the garden of Paradise. The monk picked the three apples, wrapped them in a cloth, and gave them to his companion.
When he awoke in the early morning, the priest thought the vision a dream, but suddenly he noticed next to him the cloth with the fruit of Paradise wrapped in it, and emitting a wondrous fragrance. The priest, found Saint Euphrosynus in church and asked him under oath where he was the night before. The saint answered that he was where the priest also was. Then the monk said that the Lord, in fulfilling the prayer of the priest, had shown him Paradise and had bestown the fruit of Paradise through him, “ the lowly and unworthy servant of God, Euphrosynus.”
The priest related everything to the monastery brethren, pointing out the spiritual loftiness of Euphrosynus in pleasing God, and he pointed to the fragrant paradaisical fruit. Deeply affected by what they heard, the monks went to the kitchen, in order to pay respect to Saint Euphrosynus, but they did not find him there. Fleeing human glory, the monk had left the monastery. The place where he concealed himself remained unknown, but the monks always remembered that their monastic brother Saint Euphrosynus had come upon Paradise, and that they in being saved, through the mercy of God would meet him there. They reverently kept and distributed pieces of the apples from Paradise for blessing and for healing.