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 Cookby 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.

This is the time of year when teachers all across the country are gearing up for a new school year. The adrenaline rushes in the middle of the night when you realize school starts in 8 days, along with the stress of getting everything ready on time, not to mention those evil “teacher dreams” (showing up on the first day with nothing ready and 30 kids staring at you) make for a difficult few weeks! Normally, I would be in the throws of the back to school preparations, but this year will be different.

It seems like God has put our family on a bit of a roller coaster the last few years as far as my ability to stay home with the littles. Part way through last school year, Gideon got a new job with the company in charge of our digital curriculum for the district. This jump was a bit of a balancing act, as he couldn’t make his official move until a replacement teacher was found. In January, he was able to transition completely into his new position and has been greatly enjoying it! The main reason we decided for him to take the job is that it will allow me (God Willing) to stay home and homeschool the kids! We tried this on one teacher salary when our second child was born, but Oklahoma is now at the very bottom of the barrel for teacher pay…. so that only lasted the year. The outlook for this go around is very positive, and I am hoping it can be a long-term scenario!

My teacher brain is already in full gear, as Finn will start preschool this year. The enormity of what it means to provide my children’s education has been settling on me a bit, but I am extremely grateful to center their lives around the Orthodox Church and the beautiful rhythms it provides for our year. Though I would love to jump in with school right away, there is one not-so-little event impending: little sister’s arrival!! I am 38 weeks pregnant and little miss could arrive at any time! I have decided to wait until about October (after my 40 days’ rest) to begin schooling. Hopefully by then we will have found some sort of new rhythm with all three children and we can get down to business! I will be writing about our upcoming adventures, both with school and becoming a family of 5, so stick around! Glory to God for all things!

Wish us luck! 🙂

Today is my son’s Name Day! What I mean by that is today is the day that the Church commemorates St. Finnian, my son’s namesake. As mentioned in an earlier post, it is customary in the Orthodox Church for the newly baptized to take on the name of one whose life is worthy of emulation and to whom we can go for intercession. When I was pregnant, we were drawn to the early Church in Great Britain because of our love of the British culture and, let’s face it, we are about as white as they come! Finn’s due date was February 17th, which is the feast day for St. Finan of Lindesfarne. We thought the name was very unique, and that led us to St. Finnian of Clonard. We chose him because of his vocation as a teacher (which is what my husband and I were both doing for a living), and his work for the Irish people.

May God Grant You Many Years, Finnan James!! Mama loves you!

Saint Finnian or Finan

Bishop in Ireland

(† 552)

Among the primitive teachers of the Irish church the name of Saint Finnian is one of the most famous, after that of Saint Patrick. He was a native of Leinster and was instructed in the elements of Christian virtue by the disciples of Saint Patrick. Having an ardent desire to make greater progress, he went over into Wales, where he met and conversed with Saint David, Saint Gildas and Saint Cathmael, three eminent British Saints. After remaining thirty years in Britain, he returned to Ireland in about the year 520, excellently qualified by his sanctity and sacred learning to restore the spirit of religion among his countrymen. Like a loud trumpet sounding from heaven, he roused the insensibility and inactivity of the lukewarm, and softened the most hardened hearts, long immersed in worldly business and pleasures.
To propagate the work of God, Saint Finnian established several monasteries and schools, chief among which was the monastery of Clonard, which he built and which was his ordinary residence. From this school came several of the principal Saints and Doctors of Ireland: Kiaran the Younger, Columkille, Columba son of Crimthain, the two Brendans, Laserian, Canicus or Kenny, Ruadan, and others. The great monastery of Clonard was a famous seminary of sacred learning.
Saint Finnian was chosen and consecrated Bishop of Clonard. Out of love for his flock and by his zeal for their salvation, he became infirm with the infirm and wept with those that wept. He healed souls as well as the physical infirmities of those who came to him for assistance. His food was bread and herbs, his drink, water, and his bed, the ground, with a stone for his pillow. He departed to Our Lord on the 12th of December in 552.

The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Principal Saints, by Rev. Alban Butler (Metropolitan Press: Baltimore, 1845), Vol. IV, October-December

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ST.NATALIA
ST. NATALIA
When I became a Catechumen in the Orthodox Church, I chose a new name for myself. It is tradition to choose the name of a Saint to bear after entrance into the Church. I had a hard time with making my decision (its almost like naming a child!) but I decided on the name Natalia. I have always felt that my vocation is interlaced with Gideon’s vocation and that I am here to support him in his ministry and whatever God brings our way. The story of Natalia and Adrian reminded me of that vocation. Here is their story:
The Martyrs Adrian and Natalia were married in their youth for one year prior to their martyrdom, and lived in Nicomedia during the time of the emperor Maximian (305-311). The emperor promised a reward to whomever would inform on Christians to bring them to trial. Then the denunciations began, and twenty-three Christians were captured in a cave near Nicomedia.

They were tortured, urged to worship idols, and then brought before the Praetor, in order to record their names and responses. Adrian, the head of the praetorium, watched as these people suffered with such courage for their faith. Seeing how firmly and fearlessly they confessed Christ, asked: “What rewards do you expect from your God for your suffering?” The martyrs replied: “Such rewards as we are not able to describe, nor can your mind comprehend.” St Adrian told the scribes,”Write my name down also, for I am a Christian and I die gladly for Christ God.”

The scribes reported this to the emperor, who summoned St Adrian and asked: “Really, have you gone mad, that you want to die? Come, cross out your name from the lists and offer sacrifice to the gods, asking their forgiveness.”

St Adrian answered: “I have not lost my mind, but rather have I found it.” Maximian then ordered Adrian to be thrown into prison. His wife, St Natalia, knowing that her husband was to suffer for Christ, rejoiced, since she herself was secretly a Christian.

She hastened to the prison and encouraged her husband saying: “You are blessed, my lord, because you have believed in Christ. You have obtained a great treasure. Do not regret anything earthly, neither beauty, nor youth (Adrian was then 28 years of age), nor riches. Everything worldly is dust and ashes. Only faith and good deeds are pleasing to God.”

On the pledge of the other martyrs, they released St Adrian from prison to tell his wife about the day of his execution. At first St Natalia thought that he had renounced Christ and thus had been set free, and she did not want to let him into the house. The saint persuaded his wife that he had not fled from martyrdom, but rather had come to give her the news of the day of his execution.

They tortured St Adrian cruelly. The emperor advised the saint to have pity on himself and call on the gods, but the martyr answered: “Let your gods say what blessings they promise me, and then I shall worship them, but if they cannot do this, then why should I worship them?” St Natalia did not cease to encourage her husband. She asked him also to pray to God for her, that they would not force her into marriage with a pagan after his death.

The executioner ordered the hands and the legs of the saints to be broken on the anvil. St Natalia, fearing that her husband would hesitate on seeing the sufferings of the other martyrs, asked the executioner to begin with him, and permit her to put his hands and legs on the anvil herself.

They wanted to burn the bodies of the saints, but a storm arose and the fire went out. Many of the executioners even were struck by lightning. St Natalia took the hand of her husband and kept it at home. Soon an army commander asked the emperor’s approval to wed St Natalia, who was both young and rich. But she hid herself away in Byzantium. St Adrian appeared to her in a dream and said that she would soon be at rest in the Lord. The martyr, worn out by her former sufferings, in fact soon fell asleep in the Lord.

Your holy martyrs Adrian and Natalia, O Lord,
through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls!