Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Prosphera odds and ends

I got the recipe from the church.  I have been meaning to start trying to make Prosphora for a long time now but just haven't done it. One of the stumbling blocks was a twenty minute kneading.  That worked all right and it made some beautiful little loaves. It is work and gives your shoulders and wrists a good workout. I was certainly ready to go to bed by the time dinner was finished.

 It made 5 small loaves (or two large ones).  A couple came out well enough so I thought we could use those at the chapel.  I had some problems with the centers dipping in. I think that was about heat as I have a new oven and had lowered the temperature to 340 degrees rather than the 350 degrees called for,  thinking my oven is a little hot. I think it needs that heat to raise it.   I also may have pressed too hard on the bread stamp and maybe twisted it a bit in the pressing.  

I have been in email contact with our church Prosphora organizer.  

She had said initially if it fails feed it to the chickens. 
But also after I had sampled one of the loaves with a sunken middle to see what the texture and moisture content was like she cautioned, if a person eats it they should eat it in the context of Blessed Bread, in other words no butter, jelly or anything on it.  Eat it only for spiritual benefit. Its purpose is to be Blessed and be part of the life of the church not just baked bread. So I would take that to say avoid eating it casually.  There was a little struggle in my mind as to the care of that which was made with prayer and its context with the "chickens".  I think all scraps should be disposed with the same care.  In otherwords, don't throw failures in the trash, throw them outside. The Ravens would get a great deal of benefit from it or those coyote pups that keep ranging around.  (I don't have chickens.)

Also she said that the Priest can use loaves that are not as beautiful as long as the stamping is evident and the bread is good.  Many loaves like this are used for Pre-Sanctified Liturgy and Blessed bread as well and not used for Communion.

The loaves can be frozen so that solves being at distance as in my case.
Care should be taken to get them to the church in that condition as they are stock piled to use as needed and especially used in heavy and generous use during Pre-Sanctified Liturgies and the Paschal Season.

I sent pictures of the loaves to the Head Altar Server and this was his response:

This was all very interesting!  In terms of seals themselves, all of those pictured are either perfectly acceptable or better than that.  No slight tilting in a seal would ever be considered deal-breaking for a good loaf.  In terms of the dips, if the dip on the others turns out to be like this one that you cut, we're OK.  The dips I'm more familiar with betray an air-pocket under the center of the seal, in what would be the very Lamb, and that IS a deal-breaker.  But your 'dippy' loaf shows no air-pocket; it's just got a gentle slope to the contour, and if that's all that's 'the matter' w/ the others like it, then there's no problem.  They'd be fine both for a lamb loaf and for blessed bread.

So this has been the saga of the Prosphera adventure.  I would make them again.  A good physical prayer.

I ordered some stamps from Mt. Athos for the bookstore and used one of those.

Post Script....
The solution on the dip that occurs in the bread seems to be that after the bread has been stamped and picked up to place on the baking sheet, if you round it up with your hands and make it a little smaller on the sheet rather than leaving it spread out, it seems to rise perfectly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What Other Place on Earth is Like Jerusalem? Journaling in the Holy Land

Please join me on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We will be traveling on October 28, 2012, to Amman Jordan. While in Jordan we will visit Petra, a city carved in stone, traveling toward the Jordan River we will reach the location ascribed to St. Mary of Egypt and the site where Elijah went up into the Heavens on his fiery chariot.

From Jordan we will enter Israel through the Sea of Galilee, visiting many of the sites where Jesus ministered to multitudes, traveling to locations rich in Biblical history. Jerusalem, the jewel of the journey will be our final destination. On November 10th we fly home from Tel Aviv.

Our guide will be Orthodox Priest, Father Ilya Gotlinsky, who has lead many pilgrimages to Jerusalem as well as pilgrimages all over the world. As someone who has been in the Holy Land many times he will have access and connect us to unique locations.

The cost of your journey will be $2,550 which does not include airfare. Fr. Ilya is currently working on a group fare. A $500 down payment can be made to hold your place on this very special pilgrimage.1

Our focus on the pilgrimage will be visiting Holy places. We will intertwine time for journaling, sketching and photography. As part of the trip you will receive a sketchbook/journal, as well as some basic materials, to help you create a special remembrance of your journey. We will discuss journaling processes from a creative point of view which is my specialty; as well as gaining familiarity of many holy sites through Fr. Ilya’s perspective and experience on this unique journey.

Let me know if you are interested in receiving the itinerary for this wonderful pilgrimage.
I hope you will join us.2

1 If this trip fails to materialize your deposit will be refunded 90 days before
scheduled departure. All deposits will need to be received before that time.

2 $200 of this amount is tax deductable and is a contribution toward Holy
Annunciation Orthodox Chapel.

For more information Please go to Heavenly Ladder Books/ Holy Annunciation Orthodox Travel Website

Monday, February 13, 2012

On Humility - Elder Arsenie

From the Orthodox Word, #280-2011 P. 247
Eternity Hidden in the Moment
Elder Arsenie of Romania (1914-2011)

“Someone knocked at Jesus’’ door, and Jesus asked, ‘Who is there?’
“’It is me, Your great ascetic!’
“”You’re not ready; I’m not opening the door for you!’
“The Ascetic was worried: ‘I wonder why?’ And he went again to the door and knocked.
“”Who is there?’ asked the Lord.
“”It is You!’
“”If you are Me, enter!’ – That is to say, God gathers with those who are gods by grace.

“So it is not permitted to knock at Christ’s door with stains, since any little sin is not small! It should not be understood that the struggle is to become perfect only in not committing sins! This is a little brash, and it is not the way of humility. You have to believe that the grace of God is helping you and that if you’re something, it’s only by God’s grace. This is how I understood the words of St. Silouan, uttered to him by the Savior: “Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not!” Our deeds can’t save us; therefore, we have reason for a continuous and authentic humility; not a rational humility, but a true humility.