Yesterday, I lost a dear person in my life. Fr. Seraphim fell asleep in the Lord yesterday. I will miss him. I met Fr. Seraphim when I was 14 years old, when his family moved to my parish from Australia in 1993. Our church secretary had suggested a few months before that I write to his oldest daughter, since she was my age, so that she would know someone when she came to the States. Over the summer of 1993, and into the fall, we wrote back and forth about our families, parishes, and the school we both were to attend. By the time the family arrived, I felt like I had known them forever! We were inseparable from that point on, and I think I spent as much time at their house as I did at mine. I came to love spending evenings listening to Fr. Seraphim's stories (he was a layperson at that time). What an adventurous life he had! I loved taking car trips with them as they belted out "Waltzing Matilda" at the top of their lungs. I loved coming into their home, never knowing what art piece was being created at the time. Fr. Seraphim, was a talented painter and potter! They became a part of my family. I'll never forget having to make a hard decision in college, and Fr. Seraphim looking me in the eye and telling me I had made the right decision. "You've had to make one of the first difficult decisions in your young life. I'm proud of you." He has always had a way of bringing me peace. Just a simple smile, and that's all it took. I am blessed to have been able to spend time with him weekly over the past few years, and to see him fulfill his desire to serve God in the priesthood. I will be eternally grateful for his part in bringing the Kursk Root icon here, and for the tremendous healing it brought to my family. I will be grateful to him for bringing his family here, for enriching my life with a best friend who I miss every day. I will greatly miss him, and pray that his family will be comforted.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
As Lent approaches, I have been trying to make a plan for nightly devotions with my children. My children love doing this during Advent, and so I've been looking for resources to continue this practice. As much as I love handmade, creative ideas, my life is not conducive to creating right now! It's either beautiful, handmade crafts or school work and a clean house!
Thankfully, I've been able to find some easy ways to incorporate nightly readings, and hands-on activities that will capture the interest of my children. Here are a few ideas:
Paidea Classics sells a wonderful Lenten calendar. It has numbered doors for each Sunday of the Triodion, and then each day during Great Lent. It also comes with a booklet that contains short readings for each day.
We will also be using our Advent wreath, just redecorated! There are 7 Sundays in Lent, so we have 7 purple candles, plus a white candle for Pascha.
The highlight of our nightly devotions during Advent was our Jesse Tree. Paidea also sells shrink plastic ornaments for Lent! There is a pack for the seven Sundays in Lent, and another that has an ornament for each day of Holy Week. We will be using our Jesse Tree, with a spring-time tree skirt.
I'm so happy that with just a few clicks we have something tangible for our family to embrace Great Lent at home!
There's so much to say about this morning, the day when we were blessed to approach the Kursk Root Icon of the Theotokos. Honestly, though, I don't have sufficient words. Thankfully, my dear friend does! Please visit Anna's site to catch a glimpse.
If you're like me, you already miss the nightly readings and ornaments of the Jesse Tree. my 2 year-old embraced our devotions fully this year, and still asks to "do Advent" every night! Today I heard about a wonderful way to integrate daily family readings during Lent, which will be here before we know it! This Orthodox Mom is developing the readings and posting them as she finishes them. I am inspired, and would love to eventually come up with ornaments to go along with the readings.
Some of you may have visited the Festal Celebrations Gallery, especially to get more information on the Jesse Tree project. I'm excited to announce that I am the new owner of that site!
With God's help, I hope to continue the work of the previous owner, and continue to offer ideas to families who would like tangible ways to bring the Church's Feasts home. Please visit the site, and look forward to contributions from several individuals over the next few months.
I hope to add pictures and updated reading lists for the Jesse Tree project in the next few days. Please pray for me that I am able to live up to the task given to me.