The Monastery in Our Hearts

I was recently at a Nativity retreat in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a listener mentioned that her favorite podcast episode is The Monastery in Our Hearts — and she reminded me that it’s one of my favorites too. Here’s the Raising Saints Podcast’s 5th episode.   One of the great treasures of Orthodoxy is our tradition of monasticism. You know, there are Orthodox monasteries that have stood for over a thousand years, weathering…

Reposting: Living the Nativity in our Little Churches

Originally posted on December 11, 2014, and re-posted today as we live out the Nativity Fast once more… I just returned from Holy Trinity Cathedral in Portland, where I spoke with some lovely parents about how we live the Nativity Fast, how we help our children prepare their hearts for Christmas. Think of the story of His birth: When Herod called for the census, Joseph and Mary had no choice but to head for…

Portrait of an Orthodox Family

As most of you know, I have been working on a live call-in Ancient Faith Radio show called Everyday Orthodox.  On the first and third Thursday of every month, we’ll talk with another everyday Orthodox person — we’ll hear their story, and get to know one another better! This week, my friend Katrina Bitar will join me. She didn’t think about it a lot when she was younger, but as she grows older…

Orthodox Children at Play… and Christmas Shopping

I was just remembering watching the little boys in our church’s preschool program play priest — they were baptizing a stuffed animal, I think, while solemnly censing the room with their toy censer — and marvelling at how beautiful it is to see kids who just marinate in the faith. Church isn’t just a place they go sometimes, but a part of their lives, and a part of their play. The imagination…

The Body and Blood, and What Kids Believe

I recently received a great question in the Raising Saints inbox, and thought it might be nice to share the answer here!  If you ever have a question you’d like to see on the blog or podcast, click on the email icon in the upper right to email me, and if I can think of an answer to help, I’ll be glad to do so! Eric emailed me, asking: Hi, Elissa –…

Kill it with your sword!

Sasha and the Dragon is one of Ancient Faith Publishing’s very beautiful children’s books. Laura E. Wolfe based the story on one of my favorite anecdotes from Fr. Stephen Freeman. When his son was four years old, “He had a small statue of St. Michael the Archangel beside his bed on his nightstand. He liked it so we bought it for him. It was a very manly Michael, with a great and…