Vassi M Haros is a designer, photographer, blogger, wife and mom. She enjoys Southern living and thinks everyone should experience the South's hospitality. Called to serve Christ and the Orthodox Church, Vassi enjoys being able to offer note cards with an Orthodox Voice. She hopes you enjoy her photos and cards.
In this evening’s Vespers service I was drawn into the following hymn:
Your grace has shone forth, O Lord; the illumination of our souls has shone forth. Behold, this is the acceptable season; behold, this is the season of repentance. Let us put away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, so that we may navigate the immense ocean of Lent, and arrive at the third-day Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls.
AGES Digital Chant Stand
The imagery of an “ocean of Lent” was a great expression of what I had experienced in years past. Allow me to explain.
The ocean is deep
Lent is deep.
Spiritual warfare comes in waves
Just when you think you have everything under control something comes and hits you upside the head like a bucket of water.
We need a ship to travel on the ocean
The ocean is no fun if you aren’t in a boat. It’s actually dangerous. Lent doesn’t make sense if you don’t have the Church and the services to carry you along.
Just floating isn’t enough. We have a journey ahead.
So it’s time to push off the pier, get in the boat and chart your course. If you get wet, it’s ok. If your boat tips, all the better. I mean, isn’t starting over one of the best advantages of Lent?
Let fasting be your wind, prayer your sail, repentance your rudder, and charity you compass. Your course has been set. The map is tried and true. Lent has begun.
This cornbread is a real treat when you find yourself needing to clear out the fridge during cheese fare week. It needs 4 zucchini, one onion and a box of JIFFY cornbread. Then you add feta, cottage cheese and anything you have left. I’ve made it with Parmesan, Asiago, ricotta, yogurt and even cream cheese. Yumm!
Preheat oven to 375*
Grate 4 zucchini (I use a big food processor) and a pinch of salt. Let sit in a strainer to draw out the moisture.
Chop 1 Vidalia onion. Sautee onion in 2 T butter until transparent.
1 box Jiffy Corn Bread/Muffin Mix
½ c cream of wheat,
1 stick softened butter
16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
8 oz. well crumbled feta cheese
½ c milk
(I will also add any grated hard cheese I have including asiago, Parmesan, or Romano.)
Drain and squeeze zucchini and add to transparent onions and sauté for a few more minutes to remove more moisture.
Add zucchini/onion mixture to other ingredients in bowl. Stir and put in greased 9×13 cake pan.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden on top.
If you can wait, cool for 15 minutes. You can also serve at room temperature or cold. Any way you plate it, it’s delicious!
Have you prepared koliva for memorials yet? Here’s a video and recipe.
For a small memorial service, like Saturday of the Souls or a family memorial, you will need the following ingredients: 2 c whole wheat (uncooked), 1 c chopped walnuts, 1 c blanched / slivered almonds, 1/2 c raisins, 1/2 c golden raisins, 1/4 c Italian (flat) parsley, 1 c whole sesame seeds, 1 t cinnamon, 1 t pumpkin spice, 1 t honey, 2 c powdered sugar, Jordan Almonds.
Okay! It’s probably cold where you are and Spring is the last thing on your mind. Gee! we just finished celebrating the Presentation of Christ which is Jesus’ Forty Day Blessing… forty days following Christmas. And just recently the Groundhog predicted another 6 weeks of Winter. But the Moveable Feasts of the Orthodox Christian Calendar tell us we are about the begin the Triodon, the three weeks before Great Lent, which means Easter is coming early this year.
What is the Triodion?
The Triodion is what Southerners refer to as “fixin’ to get ready.” It’s the three week period where we slowly get into the right mindset for Great Lent. You see the difference in the Sunday Gospel Readings and the fasting schedule.
Triodion Gospel Themes
You know the stories, they repeat every year but here’s a quick reference.
And in the finest expression of Orthodoxy, the church has a special fasting practice for the Triodion.
Week One- FAST FREE WEEK! Yup! No fasting this week! This is a good time to get it all out of your system.
Week Two- Regular (Wednesday and Friday) fasting. This is a good week to clean out the refrigerator.
Week Three- Start by removing meat from your diet. It’s a week to help you get in the mood. I imagine going cold-turkey from meat and dairy would be rather traumatic. This third week is the final step.
I hope you have a blessed journey this Lenten Season.
In a small saucepan simmer, after boil, 1 c long grain rice in 2 c water for 10 minutes or till liquid is absorbed.
In a larger pot warm 6 c milk (2%, skim or almond milk if you need a lenten dessert) with 1 c sugar and 1 t vanilla extract. Be careful not to scorch the milk. When rice is cooked and milk is warm, combine the two.
Continue cooking milk and rice over medium heat until rice is fully cooked and mixture has thickened, which should take another 40 minutes. STIR OFTEN!!
After 40 minutes whisk 1 T softened butter and 3 beaten egg yolks in a separate bowl. Do not add the egg mixture to the pudding until you temper it by slowly whisking it with 1/2 c of warm pudding. You can skip this step for a lenten recipe.
Add the tempered egg mixture to the pot of rice pudding.
Simmer another 2 minutes over medium heat.
Pour into individual serving bowls or a serving platter. Be sure to let the pudding cool to room temperature before you chill in the fridge or a film will form. You don’t want that.
When you are ready to serve, sprinkle with ground cinnamon.
Scoop out a portion and garnish with peach slices and homemade whipped cream. Yumm!!
This Lenten Banana Bread is always a hit at church coffee hour. It’s great with chocolate chips, walnuts, or cinnamon.
Start by preheating oven to 350 degrees.
In one bowl, mix dry ingredients (and then set aside)
3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
In large bowl, beat together
3/4 c. oil (I use 1/2 part vegetable and 1/2 part coconut oil)
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cold water
1 t vanilla extract
Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture. The mixture will be thick but don’t worry. The bananas will add plenty of moisture.
Mash 3-4 bananas and incorporate into mixture
Add 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips. (Ghirardelli are lenten.) or add 2 T ground cinnamon. Or add 1 C chopped walnuts.
Pour into a greased loaf pans and bake for 60 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
Or pour into lined cupcake trays and bake for 15 minutes.
If I need a quick cake, I pour the batter into a greased glass cake pan and bake for 30 minutes. I dust the top with cinnamon or powdered sugar for an added treat, but they are sweet enough that a topping really isn’t needed.
When I add walnuts, (my guys don’t like nuts) I like to add half walnuts on top so we can remember which ones have nuts and which don’t.
When you want them to remember what you wrote, write it on something they’ll keep.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the Christmas shopping season and the false sense of want. Ads and catalogues are being sent to our homes competing for attention. You probably think you need another “this” or two more of “that.” The double page layouts can be very convincing. Surely you know someone, anyone, who would appreciate item 4B on page 15, in multiple colors and sizes.
But this kind of thinking is exhausting, especially if you try to maintain it for 6 weeks, (which is evident by the abandoned naked pine trees and dark homes on December 26.)
Justify it as the virtue of giving all you like. The truth is that it’s all a distraction from what really matters. Christmas is a religious holiday, not a shopping season.
Jesus Christ, the Word of God, who created the universe, has chosen to enter into the limits of his creation. And not as a mature man with the rights and privileges of adulthood, but as a tiny, vulnerable baby.
This is something awesome, something worthy of greater reflection than a moment of silence before you dig into a well-laid feast or rip open the boxes under the tree.
Keeping the Advent Fast is the best way to remember that Christmas is a religious holiday.
Why? Fasting requires us to delay the celebration of Christ’s birth until Christ’s birthday. It also allows the days preceding said celebration to be one of reflection and preparation. If I might interject a commonly used phrase, it’s “the reason for the season.”
Don’t let the holiday activity distract you from the end prize, which is actually just the beginning.
The Advent Fast lasts November 15-December 24. There is no fasting December 25- January 6, (except January 5 which is a strict fast day in preparation for Theophany.)
May we have a blessed fast which will prepare us for a glorious feast!
This is the day the Lord has made…the Good ones and the Bad ones.
It’s important to remember that God is great, good and merciful, when we are up and down, good and bad, celebrating and struggling. Give thanks to the Lord for ALL THINGS and your life will be blessed.