Friday, January 2, 2015

A Child's Guide to the Divine Liturgy and The Monk Who Grew Prayer

A Child's Guide to the Divine Liturgy is a pocket-sized, fully illustrated walk through the Divine Liturgy and the Orthodox faith. It is divided into six color-coded sections:
1. Preparing for the Divine Liturgy
2. The Divine Liturgy
3. Salt and Light
4. The Twelve Feasts
5. Words to Know
6. Glossary

The first section includes subjects such as proper attire; preparatory prayers; observations when entering the Church, i.e., lighting candles and kissing icons. The second section illustrates each part of the Divine Liturgy from the opening prayer to the prayer on leaving the church. There are words included in each of these parts. However, the words are sparse because this book isn't supposed to be a missal, but a guide. The author wants you to be aware of the divine taking place and participate fully in the Liturgy, not have your nose in a book the whole time. Salt and Light is one of the shortest of the three sections, but possibly one of the most important ones. This brief section encourages your children to be witnesses to the whole world in words and deeds. The final three sections are a catechism of sorts as they include icons of the Twelve Great Feasts; images of clergy, vestments, and items found in the church; and lastly a fairly extensive list of terms including words like Epiclesis and Proskomedia.

For a book geared at children, I found myself much more knowledgeable after reading this book. As a Roman Catholic, I have attended Divine Liturgy a handful of times, and I admit that I was able to follow about half of it, but felt a bit lost during the other half. Though, I have no plans of converting, I would like my children to be exposed to the Orthodox Liturgy and its beauty, and this book will prove to be an excellent resource for just that. The book is simple, yet stunningly beautiful. I highly recommend this for all Orthodox parents.

The Monk Who Grew Prayer isn't a new book at all. It's over eleven years old! However, each time I read it and reflect on its simple words and pictures I am reminded of perception and reality. The main character is a monk who lives deep in the forest. We see him doing mundane tasks like chopping wood, drawing water from a stream, repairing his favorite chair, etc. These tasks were his prayer. He was not only praying with words, but with his actions as well.

The rest of the book is dedicated to the different hours of the Church, i.e., Vespers, Matins, etc. This book educates subtly and then overtly, but its simple message is one that you and your children will visit and re-visit time and time again. So each time you read it to/with your children, let the message of the book seep in, and remember that even in our busiest and dullest tasks, we can sanctify them and make them prayers to God.

These books were provided to me for free by Ancient Faith Publishing in exchange for an honest review. If you found them helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!