To teach children the importance of remembering loved ones after they have fallen asleep, in the Lord.
JOY (Grades 3 through 6)
Preparing for the Session
Koliva is traditionally prepared for “Saturday of the Souls.” There are many ways to make Koliva. We have provided a recipe for your convenience. If you would like to substitute your own recipe, please feel free to do so. Making Koliva can take a long time. Due to this, the wheat needs to be boiled ahead of time. The other ingredients need to be prepared and ready to mix with the wheat. Everything should be set and ready to go when the children arrive. Depending on the number of children you may want to make several small trays or bowls so that they are all able to work on decorating a tray.
Learning about the Orthodox perspective on death is important for our children. Yet sometimes, we try to shelter our children from facing the reality of death until it becomes unavoidable. Children can begin understanding and gaining comfort from our church’s teaching at this age and even younger. Discussing death before a child is face to face with it, helps to better prepare children for the day when they will experience the loss of a loved one. Prepare yourself for leading this session by becoming more familiar with the Orthodox teaching on death and everlasting life.
This session may bring up some feelings in some children that they have never before experienced. For this reason, it is important that your parish priest be available during this session to provide support should any children have a difficult time with this topic. It is also equally important that parents have a fundamental understanding of the topic. Be sensitive of children who may have experienced a loss of someone close to them.
Word Bank (Prepare a card for each highlighted word to post as it is introduced)
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Glory to You, our God glory to You!
Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, treasury of blessings and Giver of life: come and abide in us. Cleanse us from all impurities and save our souls, gracious Lord.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us. (3)
Lord, forgive our sins. Master pardon our transgression. Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for the glory of Your name.
Lord, have mercy. (3)
Glory to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Your is the kingdom, the power and the glory of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
When we are baptized, we become members of God’s family - the Church. God has given each of us a guardian angel to stay with us always. This means during our life on earth, but it also means that our guardian angel will be with us when we die and will take us to Heaven to be with God, our Heavenly Father. Jesus taught that whoever listens to Him and believes in God will not die but will live forever. We call this eternal life.
“I tell you the truth: whoever hears my words, and believes in Him who sent me, has eternal life. He will not be judged, but has already passed from death to life.” - John 5:24
Our church teaches us that we are part of God’s family while we are alive on earth and we continue to be part of God’s family when we are no longer living on earth. For this reason, our church has special prayers and services for those people who are no longer with us on earth but who are now living with God in heaven.
When a person dies, a special service is conducted in church by the priest. This service is called a funeral. During the funeral service, we say “Good bye,” to the one who died because we will no longer see that person in the world around us. We also ask God to forgive the sins of the person who died and to welcome this person into heaven.
Our church also offers memorial prayers and memorial services at other times after the funeral. The word memorial comes from the word memory or to remember. Memorial services are conducted by the priest, usually on Sunday morning at the end of the Divine Liturgy, but they may also be conducted at other times. Everyone who is in church remembers the person who is no longer living on earth with us and sends prayers and love to that person in heaven. Even when we can’t see this person, we are still together in God’s family - the Church.
Discuss (accept all answers and reflect back)
Did you know that your (grandmother, grandfather, relative, friend, etc.) remembers things about you too? Our loved ones in Heaven know when we send prayers and love to them. We can ask them to pray for us since we are all one body in Christ. Their love for us is eternal. What did we say eternal means?
Each year before the beginning of Lent, when we prepare for Pascha, our church has set aside three Saturdays called Psychosavato or “Saturdays of the Souls”. On these Saturdays, the priest offers a special memorial service for all the members of God’s family that have died and are now in Heaven. A Divine Liturgy is held on each of these “Saturdays of the Souls.” For this liturgy, we prepare a piece of paper, make a cross at the top of it and write the names of family members and friends who have died. This paper is given to the priest who will read all the names and pray for these souls during the Liturgy and the memorial service. We also may prepare Koliva, a plate or tray of boiled wheat that we bring to church for the memorial service. Wheat is used to remind us that when wheat seeds are planted in the ground, even though the seeds do not look alive, they sprout and become a green living plant. In the same way the soul of a person who does not look alive, and is buried, will be given a new and better life in God’s heaven.
For our activity, we will prepare a tray of Koliva. Tomorrow is a “Saturday of the Souls.” The tray we prepare tonight will be taken into the church tomorrow morning and placed on a table in front of the icon of Jesus that is on the iconostasion - the icon screen. The names you have written on a piece of paper will be given to the priest. Our offering of Koliva, and the names you have brought, will be used by the priest to lead us in our prayers. These are prayers of remembering and love for the people who do not live with us on earth any longer, but who are now living with God in heaven.
Activity – Making Koliva
Before the meeting
At the Meeting
In a large bowl, mix dried wheat with half the flour and add raisins, cinnamon, sugar and walnuts. Blend well. Place mixture on a tray, spreading evenly. Sift the remaining flour over mixture to cover. Sift confectioners’ sugar over top and carefully press sugar down firmly with waxed paper or spatula. Decorate the tray of Koliva with Jordan almonds. Usually a large cross is formed in the center of the Koliva with the Jordan almonds and the initials of the deceased are formed on each side.
With the Saints give rest, O Christ, to the soul of Your servant, where there is no pain, nor sorrow, nor suffering, but life everlasting. Among the spirits of the righteous perfected in faith, give rest, O Savior, to the soul of Your servant. Bestow upon it the blessed life which is from You, O loving One.