This new on-line activity book by the Department of Christian Education will be well-received as a unique addition to the Department's on-going commitment to recalling the memory of those who have "gone to their rest before us." The subtitle could easily have been: Those Who Walked Among Us. It describes twelve 20th and 21st century North American Orthodox leaders whose living examples are still fresh in the minds of older Church members.
Unlike the five previous Department publications, Luminaries focuses on men and women yet to be canonized (glorified), with two notable exceptions: our Venerable Father Sebastian Dabovich of Jackson and San Francisco (canonized 2015; feastday November 30) and Hieromartyr Vasily Martysz (canonized 2003; feastday, May 4). Nevertheless, each person described left indelible marks on the history of Orthodoxy on this continent. Their lives therefore, should be of great interest to us.
Of further note: whereas the Lives of the Saints Series was geared more toward younger students, as well as parents and Church educators, the present offering is directed toward older teens and young adults.
The accounts herein are remarkably clear, concise and informative. They present the reader with key biographical facts and inspirational sayings, food for thought and meaningful discussions. They serve as springboards for additional research providing references for those interested in delving deeper into the lives. Also included in each chapter are glossaries, key terms, maps, puzzles, journal prompts and word games, reinforcing information about each person.
There are those who claim that Christianity's constant expectation of the future life in God's Kingdom means that it pays too little attention to our earthly life with its needs and problems.
In Saints Who Were Physicians and Healers, the fifth Activity Book offered by the Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America, the fifteen men and women described are proof that this is not so. They all were dedicated to the physical health and well-being of other people. This dedication was so profound that most of them are named as "Unmercenaries" by the Orthodox Church, meaning that they took no payment for their services, and didn't turn away even the poorest person in need.
Like the previous books in the series, Saints Who Were Physicians and Healers provides biographies, hymns, detailed original iconographic depictions, maps, references, quotes, journaling questions, puzzles and activities for each saint, as well as a glossary of key words. Those of us who worked on the book, whose names can be found on the title page, have enjoyed and benefited from "meeting" these holy men and women. We hope that students, teachers, parents and everyone who uses the book will find benefit and enjoyment as well.
The Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America is excited to announce the fourth in an on-line series of DCE Activity Books: Saints and the Animals that Served Them. Many Saints are known for having befriended God's creatures, and the stories of their interactions with various animals have always been beloved parts of sacred Tradition, a testimony to God's presence in creation, and man's reception of creation as gift.
This most recent DCE creation is styled similarly to its predecessors: Saints of North America, Saints in Times of Trouble, and Saints Commemorated in the Litiya Prayers. Each installment contains concise, informative, easy to read histories of the Saints; detailed maps of their lives and travels; respective Troparia and Kontakia; entertaining word games and puzzles; helpful resources for further information; as well as beautiful and original iconographic line drawings of the Saints which may be used as handouts, enlarged for classroom use and bulletin boards, or given to children, as well as adults, to color.
The third in a series of Activity Books for Orthodox children and their parents is Saints Commemorated in the Litiya Prayers. Like the first two books, it contains biographical stories of twelve saints, plus iconographic drawings of each, maps of their travels or the areas where they lived, questions for reflection, and puzzles and activities relating to each story.
The twelve saints in this volume include Ambrose of Milan (4th century), Catherine of Alexandria (4th century), Anthony of the Caves in Kiev (11th century), Jonah the Metropolitan of Moscow (15th century) and Nicholas the Enlightener of Japan (19th-20th century). There is a related quotation for each saint, a glossary, and photographs of those saints who lived in more recent times.
Father Basil Zebrun has written an informative and engaging introduction to the book, in which he defines the Litiya as "a section of Vespers that culminates in the blessing of bread, wheat, wine and oil for the strengthening of the faithful who then continue in worship during a Vigil." He goes on to say that the selection of saints in this volume was "specifically inspired by a popular composite of names used during Vespers in many American Orthodox communities."
Saints Commemorated in the Litiya Prayers is geared to preteens and young teens, though with parental guidance it can also be useful for younger children. Like the first two books, it provides a variety of ways for young people, with their different learning styles, to get to know the lives of a diverse group of saints.
Saints Commemorated in the Litiyá Prayers is a result of the creative cooperation of Christine Zebrun, Myra Kovalak, Maria Proch, Valerie Zahirsky, Alexandra Safchuk, Daria Petrykowski, John Pusey and other members of the Department of Christian Education.
Although each Christian generation has its own unique challenges there were those followers of Christ – in various times and places – who suffered extraordinarily for the Faith. They gave their lives completely through sacrificial service or in death, "for the sake of Christ and the Gospel." Saints in Times of Trouble bears witness to twelve such disciples.
The popular Saints of North America Activity Book, put forth by the OCA's Department of Christian Education, has now been complemented by what promises to be an equally useful resource: a workbook focusing on Saints in Times of Trouble.
What makes this brief collection distinct from some others is the diversity of examples presented. Descriptions include, for example, St. John Chrysostom and the deaconess St. Olympias and St. Poplia from the 4th century; St. Aidan (Scotland) and St. Cuthbert (Britain) from the 7th century; St. Alexander Nevsky (the Russian Prince) 13th century, and the Iconographer St. Andrei Rublev, 14th century. Moving forward, the 19th and 20th centuries are represented by such figures as: St. Barbara the Nun-Martyr of Russia; St. Gorazd, Bishop and New-Martyr of Prague; St. Maria Skobtsova of Paris; St. Mitrophan of China; and St. Patriarch Tikhon.
In addition to facts concerning their lives each entry contains the Troparion and Kontakion for the Saint, and journal questions to facilitate discussions with students as well as puzzle activities. Further resources, including a large glossary and full color displays of cultural points of interests are cited for those who want more information. As in the first book, Saints of North America, this second activity book features beautifully detailed iconographic line drawings as well as a map of where each Saint journeyed during their lifetime.
A compilation such as this will prove invaluable for parents and teachers alike. God provided a witness to Himself through the men and women herein described. The Church does her children a great service by teaching them about those " heroes " for the faith, to follow in their footsteps.
Christ said, " In the world you shall have tribulation. " He followed with these words, " Rejoice, for I have overcome the world. " Saints in Times of Trouble reveals how that possibility is given regardless of the outward circumstances of one's life, a necessary lesson for people of all ages.
Saints in Times of Trouble is a result of the creative cooperation of Christine Zebrun, Myra Kovalak, Maria Proch, Valerie Zahirsky, Alexandra Safchuk, John Pusey and other members of the Department of Christian Education.
The Saints of North America activity book is the first in a series of online resources from the Department of Christian Education of the Orthodox Church in America. It offers biographical information about twelve saints whose lives and witness built up the Church in America.
In addition there are striking black and white drawings of each saint, based on their icons, and an array of puzzle activities which will give students a challenging and enjoyable way to learn more about each one. A special feature of the book is a map for each saint, tracing the path of his travels and witness.
Teachers and educators are seeking materials that address Multiple Intelligences and learning styles. The North American Saints Activity Book, with its variety of resources, answers that need. It also offers many ways for teachers to help students develop further study--for example, they might create puzzles based on those in the book, map the travels of other saints, or chart the climates and topography of areas of the world in which Orthodox saints have witnessed, to discover how they adapted to those varied conditions. (Think of the many modes of transportation St. Innocent had to use to reach his people.)
Saints of North America is a result of the creative cooperation of Christine Zebrun, Maria Proch, Kathryn Kessler, and other members of the Department of Christian Education.