St. Nektarios of Pentapolis once said (after his repose), "It's as if we saints are in retirement... The people don't pray to us, don't entreat us, don't ask us for anything, don't give us any handiwork to do. They don't give us the opportunity to pray to God for them."
Surely we can find some way to call him out of retirement!
November 9 is the feast of St. Nektarios. Orthodoxwiki tells us that, "St. Nectarios was born on October 1, 1846, in Selymbria in Thrace to a poor family. At the age of 14 he moved to Constantinople (Istanbul) to work and further his education." When looking at the Akathist hymn, we get a beautiful picture of this transition:
"When Thou didst leave home and travel to Constantinople, thou didst labor in the midst of worldly distractions. Yet thou didst not forsake the Faith, which dwelt first in thy grandmother and mother and also dwelt in thee."
Let us ask St. Nektarios to pray for our young adults, as they transition into leaving home and travelling out into the great, big world. May they, like him, not be drawn into the earthly distractions even though they be surrounded by them. May the Faith of their childhood still dwell in their hearts!
The Akathist continues:
"Steadfastly dedicating thyself to prayer and to the sayings of the Fathers, thou didst write these sayings on packages and wrappings so that others might read them and receive spiritual profit."
St. Nektarios scribbled little words of inspiration on the backs of packages in the store where he worked, little surprises for customers to find later. May he also send fitting sayings of the Fathers to our young adults, leading them towards spiritual profit. May he help them to steadfastly dedicate themselves to prayer.
What if our young adults make unwise decisions, as surely they must be tempted to, as surely we ourselves do too? Let us give a little more work to St. Nektarios, whose Akathist claims, "Rejoice, thou who makest wise the unwise by the teachings!" and "Rejoice, good guide of men!"
St. Nekatrios, guide us to draw near to our Lord Jesus Christ!
Inspired by Joshua Gibbs, I have undertaken to write a similar text for oral recitation for our Homeschool this year. We are studying the Ages of Grace cycle entitled Age of the Patriarchs, using the Prologue schedule, and the K-1st Grade Reading List available in the Ages of Grace facebook group and whatever materials we can create -- like this High School Curriculum. What you see below is a work in progress and I welcome feedback from other parents and teachers.
My children range from ages six to fifteen, so I have revised this mini-recitation within the larger one for the six-year old. He will just stand with us and listen to the rest.
Students stand and read aloud in unison, each from their own copy. However, the teacher says the Elementary timeline and the students repeat it.
When is Ancient History?
Our Ancient History covers roughly 6000 years before the time of Christ - Before Christ is shortened to BC.
What is the Elementary Timeline? (with hand motions)
Creation, Fall, Flood over all (Children Echo)
2000 BC Abraham, Isaac Jacob (Children Echo)
1000 BC Joseph, Egypt, Slavery, Moses (Children Echo)
Joshua-Conquest, Judges (Children Echo)
Kings, Divided Kingdom (Children Echo)
700 BC Exile to Assyria - Homer writes Epics in Greece (Children Echo)
600 BC Exile to Babylon - Daniel and the 3 Holy Youths (Children Echo)
500 BC Return under Persia (Children Echo)
Shhh.. 400 years of silence from the Bible (Children Echo)
Meanwhile.... 300 BC Alexander the Great (Children Echo )
100 BC The Roman Empire (Children Echo )
20 BC Virgil writes his stories (Children Echo )
Anno Domini - follow that star - in the Year of our Lord (Children Echo )
What is the Upper School Timeline?
2300 BC The Flood destroys all but Noah and the Ark
2100 BC Job suffers long
2000 BC Abraham the Patriarch follows God to a new land
There he begat Isaac, who begat Esau and Jacob, who begat 12 sons, one of them Joseph, who was sold into slavery in Egypt and joined by his family in 1670 BC.
1550 to 1069 BC Egyptian Empire reigns
1445 BC Moses leads God’s people out of Egypt
1405 BC Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land
1398-1050 BC The Judges rule Israel
1050 BC Israel’s first King - Saul - is annointed followed by David and Solomon.
930 BC Israel is divided into two kingdoms.
884-612 BC Assyria is a world empire
723 Israel is taken captive to Assyria and the prophet Isaiah lived.
700-800s BC Homer - in Ancient Greece - wrote down the epic stories his people passed on from generation to generation around campfires - The Iliad and The Odyssey.
612-539 BC Babylon is a world empire and attacks Jerusalem, Daniel and the three Holy Youths are taken captive to Babylon, Hezekiah and Jeremiah lived, and the book of Ezekial was written.
539-331 BC Persia is a world empire, and the Israelites return home to re-build the temple. This is the time of Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah.
400s-500s BC, Ezra and the Great Assembly complete the canonization of the Old Testament.
400s BC Theatre is born as Sophocles writes his famous Oedipus plays to entertain and instruct worshippers gathered at the temples of Greek gods and goddesses for feasts.
336-323 BC Alexander the Great builds and rules his Macedonian Greek Empire.
63 BC Roman troops occupy Judea and Jerusalem falls.
44 BC Julius Caesar is assassinated.
37 BC Herod becomes King of Judea through Rome.
27 BC Roman Empire rises.
Around 20 BC, Virgil writes the epic poem, The Aeneid.
Around the year 1 - Anno Domini - The Year of Our Lord - Christ is born!
We shorten Anno Domimi to AD
How did our Lord Jesus use the Old Testament?
Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, Jesus expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
How do we as Christians use the Old Testament?
We see Christ.
Also, we find in the Old Testament an opportunity for repentance and for spiritual encouragement.
For repentance - we see ourselves in the sins of the people, as we pray in the Canon of St. Andrew: “Like the Israelites in the desert, thou hast made a foolish decision, O my soul; for thou hast preferred the pleasures of gluttony and passions to the refreshment of divine manna.”
For encouragement - we find examples to inspire us in our spiritual life: “The ladder seen of old by the great Patriarch Jacob is an example, O my soul, both of ascent through action and of ascent through spiritual understanding. Watch, O my soul, and take courage like the Great Patriarch Jacob of old, that thou mayest acquire action with spiritual understanding, and be named Israel, ‘the mind that sees God’; and so shalt thou penetrate the impassable darkness through contemplation, and obtain a great treasure as thy reward.”
What are the chief aids to opening our hearts to this great treasure?
Prayer, fasting, performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
How should Christians read the literature of the pagans?
St. Basil suggests that “Since the life to come is to be attained through virtue, chief attention must be paid to those passages in which virtue is praised. In the pagan literature virtue is lauded in deeds as well as in words, wherefore one should study those acts of noble men which coincide with the teachings of the Scriptures. Young men must distinguish between helpful and injurious knowledge, keeping clearly in mind the Christian's purpose in life.”
What is the Christian’s purpose in life?
Our purpose is to be unified with God, to become truly human, acquiring the mind of Christ.
What does School have to do with this?
School is a tool to seek the infinite God in the world He created, to learn the ability to see reality and the habits that are required to live within reality (and not to fight against it). School can be a part of our transformation, our theosis.
Since it is so easy to lose focus on this, what must we do?
St. John of Kronstadt explains, ““The Christian, who is called to a heavenly country, who is only a stranger and a sojourner upon earth, ought not attach his heart to anything earthly, but should cling to God alone, the Source of life, our resurrection, and the Life eternal.”
“We are Achaians coming from Troy, beaten off our true course by winds from every direction across the great gulf of the open sea, making for home.” Homer- The Odyssey
What are the virtues that will enable us to attain the life to come, our eternal home?
“Still, we will let all this be a thing of the past, though it hurts us, and beat down by constraint the anger that rises inside us. Now I am making an end of my anger. It does not become me, unrelentingly to rage on.” ― Homer, The Iliad
How should we strive?
Elders Barsanuphius and John encourage, “We are praying for you; and do you, according to your strength, acquire humility and submission. Do not insist on any occasion that it should be done according to your will, for from this anger is born; do not judge and do not belittle anyone, because from this the heart grows faint and the mind is blinded, and from this negligence appears and unfeelingness of heart is born. Keep ceaseless vigil, learning in the law of God, for through this the heart is warmed by heavenly fire; do not be despondent and do not weaken. God does not demand of you what is beyond your strength, but demands labor to the extent possible.”
“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.” ― Homer, The Iliad
What if we don’t want to struggle?
“The gates of Hell are open night and day; smooth the descent and easy is the way.”
The Reading List summarizes the curriculum. This post puts all those resources into a schedule. (scroll down to find week-by-week schedule)
You are welcome to follow along with me, share your experiences, and help me make it better!
Once a week at my home, all ages/levels gather together to add to our timeline and look at maps of where we’ve been studying during the week. Although no books for geography are included, that’s the geography plan for now. My family will also meet together for about 30 minutes each day, one day to share poetry, another day to learn hymns... picture study, draw in nature journals, etc. All that Charlotte Mason stuff :) The outline does not include music because I plan to follow the church year learning the troparions and communion hymns for upcoming Feasts. Also, I'll add classical paintings that go with what we are reading, which are not in this outline. Dr. Pat provides free icons for every Old Testament lesson at the bottom of this page. This schedule does not include math, science, or foreign language, but if you would like suggestions about these, I am glad to help. Students will need to register for the free online classes at Hillsdale College. Each linked lecture has the main lecture, a Q&A video, a quiz, and assigned readings. The purpose of the Hillsdale courses are two fold: 1) they set the table for the feast of the books we will read and 2) they give my student practice in taking notes from a lecture. Let Us Attend is way more expensive at Amazon than here, but the synopsis on Amazon gives you a good idea of what’s inside. This might be too much reading, but I’m putting in the schedule what corresponds to the books of the Bible we read. We may not choose to use it all. If you choose not to purchase this resource, you may want to talk to your priest about an alternative. If you find some good alternatives, please share! Every day my student will read Saints for the Day, Scriptures for the Day, and books from the Fathers, like this one, to provide a larger framework from within which to study this particular time period. All of Dr. Pat's Orthodox Lessons are meant for Sunday School and start with a prayer. Your student could say the prayer before beginning a task or a simple, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. They are a good resource to connect services in the Orthodox Church with references to the Old Testament books we are reading. If you belong to a co-op, this might be a good place to discuss some of the questions. We are doing Analytical Grammar this year, but feel free to ignore or replace it according to your class or family’s needs. Writing Assignments will grow out of questions and discussion from week to week, so I included it on the schedule every 2-4 weeks to remind me.
Week 12 Solomon - need clay or play dough to make a replica of the temple Ecclesiastes - Read whole book first; activity could be done in journal Elijah Elisha - possible party for little kids Jonah - answer discussion questions in writing Isaiah - Read chapters 7, 40-55 - discussion about consequences Joel - Read the prophecy in chapter 2 AG 12
Week 13 (Greek Culture & Iliad) Roman Roads Media - Lecture 1 & Workbook (need to print the pdf file ahead of time) Lecture 2 & Workbook Homer, The Iliad - Choose one of the five themes to annotate for as you read. Read Iliad Books 1-4 & Workbook AG 13
Life and Government in Athens Tobit - Writing Prompt: Read the 4th chapter very carefully. What counsel does Tobit give Tobias, knowing he may never see him again? Consider the lessons Achilles, Odysseus, and Creon learned. What counsel would you give your best friend as he or she was about to leave for college or for a foreign country.
Week 32 (The Aeneid) Virgil, The Aeneid Schmoop - Read the Intro page, the summary, explore the plot & major characters ("play date") Now that we've gone through two other Epics with help, we're going to try to go through this one on our own. Close Reading, Annotating, Pondering, Being open to being Transformed by God as we Learn the story. Read Books 1-2; give them titles. Christ in the Psalms AG32
Week 33 (Aeneid Cont) Read Books 3-5
Christ in the Psalms AG33
Week 34 (Aeneid Cont)
Read Books 6-8 Christ in the Psalms AG34
Week 35 (Aeneid Cont)
Read Books 9-11 Christ in the Psalms AG35
Week 36 (Aeneid Cont) Read Book 12 Christ in the Psalms Final Paper on the Aeneid
If you have not yet been able to attend a Paraclesis service during the Dormition Fast, it is a beautiful and encouraging service asking for help from the Theotokos. Most parishes provide these services during the first two weeks of August, in preparation for the Dormition Fast.
At the very end of the service, we sing a song with some vivid metaphors:
a gold entwined tower
a twelve-walled city
a throne besprinkled with sunbeams
a royal chair for the King
If you are looking for a rainy day afternoon activity for the kids, why not have them pick one of these images and draw it? My 6 year old boy much preferred coloring a page of the Dormition and a page of the Theotokos "with her arms raised in prayer" as he requested, like the Gigi Shadid song (that line is from song #8, but #3 is Feasts of Mary). If you have been lighting a lot of candles at church this past week - or still have the light of the Transfiguration on your mind! - and need something to transition your children back into school, you might enjoy these 5 videos about candles. We are actually going to use those, in conjunction with the actual book, student activities download, and teacher guidelines download for part of our middle school science this year!
This is an incomplete list (no geography, art, music - which I'll just have to add as I go), but enough to get you started. I plan to include with my student the file of Prologue Readings that correspond to the Old Testament. I have not listened to ALL of the linked lectures, but I have taken two other Hillsdale courses that I really appreciated and I have listened to the first couple of lectures of the series linked below. We will also use Roman Roads Media lectures to "set the table" for feasting on the Greek epics. If you are interested in “beta-testing” this curriculum with me, we can work together throughout the year, sharing specific discussions and writing assignments that develop from each work. With God's help, I hope to post a week-by-week schedule and a course catechism by the end of this week.
1 year High School Credit in World Literature - Antiquity*
Free Online Hillsdale College Course Great Books 101 (Just lectures 1-7 because 8-11 go with the Age of Triumph)
* Teacher’s Notes for Literature - As a family, we already read children’s/young adult versions of these stories and watched videos about them, looked at Sparknotes, etc. back in 6th grade. If your student has not already “met” these books, then I would lay some of that groundwork before diving into a slow read of the actual book. Furthermore - I would cut out an entire book from the list and slow down, giving yourselves more time to really understand the books you do read). I estimate spending one week on the first lecture and 3-6 weeks on each book after that. We will start each of the Great Books by watching the lecture together with my student and discussing it. We’ll both take notes so we have a written record of what we are going to notice while we read. I'll check my notes against my student's and mentor him in the skill of note-taking. Also, we’ll write questions. The next day we’ll watch the Q&A and see if any of our questions are answered. Then we will start slow reading and discussing our way through it, perhaps along with a high-quality audio recording. My student is working on a fictional writing project on the side, and I plan to point out some literary techniques that I think he could use in his own writing (like extended metaphors, for example). We will ask and try to answer questions as we go, trying to use Orthodox resources to shed light on the text and help us learn. Ideally, we will time it so that the History lectures and readings precede the literature, so that we have a better understanding of the world of the author before starting each story. Each book will have a writing assignment, either applying techniques from the book to my student’s own book, or an essay reflecting on some aspect of virtue or vice or literary technique in the book.
** If we have time we’ll include Julius Caesar - we might do this during the summer as a whole family using Charlotte Mason’s method of teaching Shakespeare: 1) read a good story version like Charles and Mary Lamb, 2) listen to a good audio recording or watch a movie, 3) close reading & acting out particular chapters. This play lends itself very well to the study of rhetoric, with great dialogue as Cassius tries to persuade Brutus, Portia tries to persuade Brutus, Calpurnia tries to persuade Caesar - those are the scenes we would close read and annotate for the tools of rhetoric used in the three appeals - logos, ethos, pathos)
***Teacher’s Notes for History - I imagine we will take about three weeks per lecture, which would look something like this:
Monday – Watch Video Lecture with parent and take notes. Compare notes to my notes. Discuss
Tuesday – Watch Q&A (add to notes)
Rest of Week – Read assigned reading and take notes