Harvest is Here!

Screen_Shot_2015_10_25_at_6.21.00_PM__48020.1445822824Every year at this time, when most children are deciding what costume to wear for a feast that toys with evil, our family gathers for the more serious fun of a Harvest Festival. It is a fitting tribute to our God the creator as we the sub-creators bring the intelligent fruit of our labours together. The students of Saint Herman of Alaska Christian School for over 2 decades of its existence have every year gathered for this festival at the end of October closed to the 28th, the feast day of the Mother of God, “She Who Ripens the Grain”.

Festivities begin with several recitations from the different classes. Poems are declaimed, stories are portrayed, and all people remember to thank the God who gives us life. Headmaster Father Patrick Tishel spoke of how the Mother of God ripened the figurative grain of the Lord Jesus in her womb. Similarly, we offer back to the Lord of life the fruits of our minds and hands. Continue reading

For the Beauty of the Earth

aerialNews of the Kingdom of God first sounded not in the muggy, dusty capital cities, but on the shores of an azure lake among green groves and hills, reminding us that the beauty of the earth is a reflection of the eternal beauty of heaven.

— Fr. Alexander Men

I can still remember the strong impressions from my first time apple picking with our local Orthodox Christian School. I was a recent transplant from the Midwest, a good ole’ boy adrift in the complicated, concrete urban jungle of Boston. My idea of fun was sitting on the front porch and watching the grass grow. The city overwhelmed me, and I pined away for the countryside where a blade of grass stood a chance to survive. Continue reading

The Weapon of Discernment

For my yearly Back-to-School post, I would like to republish an article I wrote when I was just a young teacher. It is the first day today for my alma mater, St. Herman of Alaska Christian School, for whom I wrote this article almost 20 years ago. Good strength to all in your September return to learning. God bless your studies in this new school year!

Sunflowers, Autumn 1997

The Weapon of Discernment
by Aaron Friar
Instructor, Grades 3-8

mirrorbbc-758689Many parents have felt the wonder of the moment when their child was old enough to utter his first word. Perhaps, equal to excitement is the moment when he begins to read. He sounds out everything in his path All goes well until he decides to exercise his phonics skills on a supermarket tabloid. Words “scandal” and the easier monosyllable “sex” send his impressionable mind reeling as he asks parents a barrage of troubling questions.

In our age of free access to information, it is more important than ever to learn discernment of words. It is not enough for us to set our children free to roam aimlessly in the abyss of choices provided by almost every media imaginable; we must also give them the tools which will enable them to make wise choices. They do not just need to know how to read but what to read. And our greater task as Christian parents and teachers is to enable our children to discern the words they read and hear by the measuring stick of Christ. The world around them is more than what meets the eye or impresses the mind, and we must give them the mastery of words which is necessary to see a bigger and more truthful picture. Continue reading

Pickin’ and Hummin’ in the Harvest

IMG_2259Our family had the great fortune already this fall of attending two celebrations of the harvest with many more to come. The first was a long-standing tradition we have had of going with St. Herman Christian School to our favorite fruit farm in Northborough, MA. The second was a new tradition that we intend to repeat with my parents who now live in the area: the yearly harvest of the largest producer of cranberries in the world, right here in New England! Continue reading

Redeeming Harvest Time

Redeeming the times for the days are evil…

Such a redemption is the basis for our whole church life with its organization of time around the liturgical cycles of feasts and fasts, of saints and holy events, of celebrations and commemorations of deliverance by the hand of almighty God. While these liturgical cycles are more than adequate to feed and order the spiritual life, it is important similarly to feed the soul with an equally rich and diverse sustenance of cultural and seasonal celebrations. Continue reading