Tending the Garden of Our Hearts: Family Meditations for Great Lent

Tending the Garden of Our Hearts: Family Meditations for Great Lent

Elissa Bjeletich

Kristina Wenger

February 2018

Tending the Garden of our Hearts: Daily Lenten Meditations for Families is a book of daily meditations available in February 2019 at the Ancient Faith Store as a book, ebook, and audiobook. This book grew out of a 2018 daily podcast special which offered meditations (readings, stories, and lessons for families to share together) for every day of Great Lent and Holy Week. The special podcast was originally released at two levels: one for older children, and the other for younger children. The readings for older children and related craft and activity suggestions are now offered in the book. The simplified version of the meditations for the youngest children remain here in podcast form. Children are invited to listen with their parents, and to use the questions at the end to start a family conversation on the day’s theme! More information, including a few links and printables related to the crafts and activities in the book are available at tending-the-garden.com. Written and presented by Elissa Bjeletich and Kristina Wenger.

Please join us at for an ongoing weekly podcast with meditations for families throughout the year at ancientfaith.com/podcasts/tendingthegarden.


  • 10 per page
  • 20 per page
  • 50 per page
  • 100 per page
  • New to Old
  • Old to New
  • Title A-Z
  • Title Z-A

  • April 7, 2018
    At today’s Agape Vespers service, we hear the gospel reading in many different languages. What began on that day? Why do we celebrate Pascha for forty days?
  • April 6, 2018
    On Great and Holy Saturday, we are celebrating the Harrowing of Hades. What was Hades? How did Our Lord trick the “trickster” to destroy the power of death over us forever?
  • April 5, 2018
    On Great and Holy Friday, we think about Our Lord’s choice to suffer for our sake. How did Christ react to those who treated Him so terribly? How should this affect our choice to take up our own cross(es)?
  • April 4, 2018
    On Great and Holy Thursday, we remember the Last Supper. What blessing do we receive every Divine Liturgy that began then? What did Our Lord do to model for us how we should treat others?
  • April 3, 2018
    Today’s episode looks at two different people’s interactions with Christ on the Wednesday before His Passion: Mary, who poured expensive oil on Christ’s feet; and Judas, who betrayed Him for money. How did Judas react to Mary’s loving gift? Which of these people should we imitate?
  • April 2, 2018
    This is the last of the Bridegroom Services, and we are thinking about the wise and foolish virgins. What made the foolish virgins miss the bridegroom? How can we prepare the lamp of our heart for the Bridegroom’s return?
  • April 1, 2018
    Today we will consider the parable of the fig tree. What was wrong with the fig tree Our Lord saw on this day after His entrance into Jerusalem? What can we learn from this living parable?
  • March 31, 2018
    On this day, we celebrate the Feast of the Entrance of Our Lord into Jerusalem. How did Our Lord enter Jerusalem? What did the people do when He arrived?
  • March 30, 2018
    This episode tells the story of Lazarus’ resurrection. Why didn’t Jesus go to heal His sick friend right away? How does He feel when people die?
  • March 29, 2018
    This episode looks closely at Jesus’ teaching about fasting. What is our goal when we fast? What kind of treasure is the best treasure?
  • March 28, 2018
    This episode looks at our Lord’s forty-day fast in the wilderness before He began His earthly ministry. Why did He fast? How did He answer the temptations that came His way during His fast?
  • March 27, 2018
    We continue our look at fasting by learning about St. Simeon the Stylite. Where did he live in the years before he climbed his first pillar? What happened in his heart as he prayed and fasted up there? Does anyone live as a stylite today?
  • March 26, 2018
    Inspired by St. Mary of Egypt’s 47 years of fasting in the desert, we begin in this episode to look at the lenten theme of fasting. What does St. John Chrysostom tell us about how fasting helps us to tend the garden of our hearts? What does he say we need to do besides abstain from food, in order to truly fast?
  • March 25, 2018
    This episode continues to look at the life of St. Mary of Egypt. What did St. Mary ask Abba Zosimas to bring to her? Why does her story encourage all of us so much?
  • March 24, 2018
    It is St. Mary of Egypt Sunday, so we will begin to learn together about her life. Where did St. Mary want to go that she could not go? Why couldn’t she go there? How did this experience change her whole life?
  • March 23, 2018
    The saints offer examples of ways to give alms to the poor, sometimes without money! What did Saints Peter and John offer to the paralytic man at the door of the temple? How did St. John of Crimea give to the poor? What is the best way that we can help those in need?
  • March 22, 2018
    As we continue with our exploration of almsgiving, we consider the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The Fathers teach us that God provides opportunities for us to develop soft, generous hearts. Do we ignore those opportunities? Or will we take advantage of the opportunity to minister to the people God puts on our paths every day?
  • March 21, 2018
    St. Nikolai Velimirovich taught about the importance of almsgiving. When we give to the poor, we are really giving to Jesus Christ! How does this great mystery work, and what does it mean?
  • March 20, 2018
    As we continue with the theme of almsgiving, today’s episode discusses the story of the widow’s gift of two mites. What does God really want from us? What can we learn from Abba Dorotheos and St. John Chrysostom related to this story?
  • March 19, 2018
    Today’s episode takes a look at the 16th and 17th rungs of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, which focus on almsgiving. What did Our Lord Himself tell the rich young ruler is the best way to have eternal life? How does St. John of the Ladder suggest that we handle our possessions? What did St. Basil the Great do with his?
  • March 18, 2018
    On the fifth Monday of Great Lent, we look at the first rung of the Ladder of Divine Ascent, “on renouncing the world.” What if we are not monastics? Can we renounce the world? What does that look like?
  • March 17, 2018
    On this fourth Sunday of Great Lent, we commemorate St. John of the Ladder. In today’s episode, we will learn a bit about the life of St. John. How did St. John become so holy? Why is he called “St. John of the Ladder”?
  • March 16, 2018
    This episode finishes our focus on the cross, humility, and self-sacrifice by looking at the lives of two modern holy men, Elder Dobri, and Patriarch Pavle. Why did Elder Dobri walk 12 ½ miles every day? Who did he greet lovingly? What happened with patriarch Pavle and his shoes?
  • March 15, 2018
    St. Xenia of St. Petersburg is another example of self-sacrifice. What happened when she was only 26 that changed her whole way of life? What is a “fool for Christ” and why do some people choose to live in that way? Who did St. Xenia want to get credit for all of the good things that she did?
  • March 14, 2018
    This episode looks at the idea of self-sacrifice by learning the story of Mother Maria of Paris. How did she use her gifts for God’s glory? How did she view everyone around her?
  • March 13, 2018
    In 4 Kingdoms Ch. 5, we read the story of the Syrian commander, Naaman, who went to Israel to meet Elisha and be healed of his leprosy. Did he meet Elisha? How was he healed? What else besides leprosy was he healed from, that day?
  • March 12, 2018
    In Matthew Chapter 16, we read about Our Lord’s teaching about crosses. He tells His disciples that if they want to be His follower, they need to take up their cross and follow Him. What did He mean by that? What cross was He talking about? How does that apply to those of us today who want to be His followers, too?
  • March 11, 2018
    This episode tells the story of the first time the Holy Cross was found, held up, and venerated. Who located the Holy Cross? How did they know it was the Cross of Christ?
  • March 10, 2018
    On this third Sunday of Great Lent, we celebrate the Sunday of the Holy Cross. In this episode, we will learn why the Church placed this celebration right here, halfway through Lent. What does it mean to be crucified with Christ? What kinds of fruits should we be growing in the garden of our hearts? How does remembering the cross help us?
  • March 9, 2018
    St. John Chrysostom’s last words were a prayer, “Glory to God For All Things!” Those words inspired an entire Akathist by the same name, written by Metropolitan Tryphon. This episode takes a look at the metropolitan’s life. How do we know that the metropolitan was a man of prayer? How can praying this akathist which he wrote help us when we have difficult times?
  • March 8, 2018
    Sometimes it is tempting to give up on prayer. What did Elder Barsanuphius tell one of his monks to do when that monk felt like giving up? What example did the Canaanite woman give to us when she asked Christ to heal her daughter?
  • March 7, 2018
    In the Bible, we learn about the three holy youths and what happened when they refused to pray to a statue, but prayed instead to God. This episode takes a look at how God watches over us when we pray to Him. How will we respond when faced with false gods and the threat of fire?
  • March 6, 2018
    Prayer is a way to talk to God. What else can be gained through prayer? Which of the prayers in this episode do you already pray? Which one would you like to learn to pray?
  • March 5, 2018
    This episode looks at how prayer affects us. What happens when we pray? What did St. Gregory Palamas say about the prayers of the Publican and the Pharisee? Who should we want to be like, and how can prayer change us?
  • March 4, 2018
    St. Gregory Palamas dedicated his life to prayer. Because of that, we will be learning about prayer this week! How should we pray? What did Our Lord teach us to pray?
  • March 3, 2018
    On the second Sunday of Lent, we commemorate St. Gregory Palamas. In this episode, we will learn about his life. We will also learn about his devotion to prayer. What is “the Prayer of the Heart”? Who was Barlaam, and how does his interaction with St. Gregory Palamas make this Sunday sometimes considered “the Sunday of Orthodoxy part two"?
  • March 2, 2018
    Holy water is important to the Church, and to Orthodox Christians. When was the first time that water became holy water? How do we celebrate that today?
  • March 1, 2018
    We Orthodox Christians use candles when we worship. What special miracle happens every year which has something to do with candles? How can candles help us to worship God?
  • February 28, 2018
    Incense is an important part of our Orthodox Christian worship. What does incense have to do with Christ? When we see the smoke and smell the incense, what can we think about?
  • February 27, 2018
    When Orthodox Christians worship, we use the sign of the cross. How did St. Barbara learn about the Faith? When she used the sign of the cross, what miracle happened? Does that change how we think about making the sign of the cross when we pray?
  • February 26, 2018
    Orthodox worship is special because, when we worship, we use our entire bodies to worship God. What kind of effect do our bodies have on who we are? How does our Orthodox worship reflect that?
  • February 25, 2018
    What are the things that make our Orthodox worship so special? We’ll be exploring them this week, beginning today with icons. Who made the first icon? And how did that icon miraculously save a city?
  • February 24, 2018
    This first Sunday in Lent we celebrate the Sunday of Orthodoxy. This episode takes a look at what we celebrate on this day, and why. Who were the iconoclasts, and did their plan work?
  • February 23, 2018
    We finish out our week focused on forgiveness by learning from the life of St. Doulas. How can humility and prayer help us to live a life of forgiveness?
  • February 22, 2018
    Even though we know that we must be forgiving, forgiveness does not always come easy to us. Which of today’s episode’s ideas can we try, so that we will become more humble and forgiving?
  • February 21, 2018
    Today we will learn about St. Dionysius, who set an example of forgiveness to all of us when he forgave someone for doing something that is hard to forgive. What can we learn from St. Dionysius’ example?
  • February 20, 2018
    As we continue the theme of Forgiveness, today’s meditation focuses on the Old Testament figure, Joseph. He always trusted in God and did His will, no matter what strange and amazing things happened in his life. Ultimately, he forgave the ultimate betrayal! How is he like our Lord, Jesus Christ?
  • February 19, 2018
    Today we consider the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Why does the Lord teach that God can only forgive us if we are willing to forgive others?
  • February 18, 2018
    Today we are thinking about the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden. What does this have to do with fasting, and how can we ever find our way back to Paradise?
  • February 17, 2018
    This first Lenten meditation opens with a discussion of Forgiveness Sunday -- what do we do today, and why? And what does our Lord mean when He says, “If you forgive others for their trespasses, God will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive them, He will not forgive you.”?
  • February 5, 2018
    This overview describes the plan for Great Lent, including inspiration for a Lenten Countdown!

No results found