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BREAD AND WORD
By Dr. Nadezhda Savova with the support of many people of all professions, priests, monks, nuns, and theologians from across the globe
Did you know that “bread” is mentioned 394 times in the Bible?
In Hebrew, “bet” is home and “lehem” is bread, thus Betlehem – “home of bread”
This is why bread makes a very useful element and tool to teach the basic history, spiritual principles and practices of Christianity.
HISTORY OF THE BOOK
The Bread and Word is planned as a book/manual for Christian studies with beautiful photographs from various countries, which takes bread and its elements and metaphors as a consolidating thread for a more easily comprehensible exploration of the Christian faith for all age groups and taking into consideration various cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. These particular cultural factors will be examined and incorporated in the book due to the multi-disciplinary academic background of the author, Dr. Nadezhda Savova, trained in Cultural Anthropology at Princeton University. Dr. Savova combines the anthropological perspective of the diverse world cultures with the theological study of Christian anthropology that she gained through classes at Princeton’s Byzantine Art and Archaeology Department and seminars and lectures at the Princeton Theological Seminary and Princeton’s Hellenic Studies Program. The book will also incorporate Nadezhda’s personal and ethnographic stories of Christian culinary traditions and spiritual practices from holy places and diverse Christian communities around the world, from Brazil to South Africa, from South Korea and Japan to California, from New York to Bulgaria and, of course, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
For her travels with the mission to research and save local traditions and build peace around bread-making, Nadezhda was named globally National Geographic Traveler of the Year 2012. In 15 of the 77 countries that she has so far explored, Nadezhda has organized workshops and planted the seeds for community programs called “Bread House” (named after Bethlehem) for people of all ages and disabilities to come together united around making, baking, and breaking bread together.
Currently these programs are united in the program called Bread Houses Network (www.breadhousesnetwork.org), part of the non-for-profit organization International Council for Cultural Centers (www.international3c.org), founded by Nadezhda in 2008. While in some of the places the bread-making program is used for making special Christian breads, in other cases it is used to bring people of diverse backgrounds, including different religion, to make simple, daily bread and to simply share love and build respectful dialogue with each other, without traces of ecumenism but with a genuine desire for peace. The proceeds from the sales of the Bread and Word will go towards supporting the Bread Houses Network’s community social programs in the diverse countries.
The Bread and Word will be a book, where each chapter will deal with the 12 major Christian feasts (holidays), from the Nativity to Easter, and link each one to a particular foundational Christian virtue. Each chapter will be used as a script for a parish-based collective bread-making event, so that at least one such event can take place each month of the year (12 chapters for 12 months) and serve as an engine to foster social cohesion and community building around ever more holistic understanding of the practice of the Christian faith for people across gender, education, ages, professions, and cultures. Each one of the 12 chapters will contain one of each of the following, always incorporating a bread-related thread running through it so that it links directly to the collective bread-making activity that will be taking place while these passages are read and discussed.
1) Old Testament readings
– Adam and Even banished from Paradise: “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 2:20-3:20)
– Abraham’s hospitality (passages about His “hope against all hope” from Father Zaccharias’ Remember Thy First Love book)
– King Melchisedek greeting with bread
– King David taking to eat from the bread in the Holy of Holies (also mentioned in the New Testament)
– Prophet Isaiah on God’s Incarnation and bread being an indicator of the state of a society: “ For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah stay and staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water; the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder, the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms. And I will make boys their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every man his fellow and every man his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the base fellow to the honorable. When a man takes hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: “You have a mantle; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule”; in that day he will speak out, saying: “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor mantle; you shall not make me leader of the people.” For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen; because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence.” (Isaiah 3:1-14)
– The Prophet Elijah asking a woman to make him cakes from grain with olive oil
– The manna in the desert during the Exodus from Egypt
– Show bread in the Holy of Holies
– The Passover feast and its unleavened bread and blood marks on the houses (leavened versus unleavened bread discussion)
2) New Testament readings
– Christ’s parables linked to bread (a) parable of “Good Sewer” and the seeds and the various soils; b) parable of the harvest and the storage in granaries; c) the Kingdom of God as a woman who puts yeast in three cups of flour; d) on the “yeast of the Pharisees” and discussion on the two main opposite meanings of yeast in the Bible; e) “You all are the salt of the earth” linked to the use of salt in the bread and salt as a metaphor of our mission on earth; f) on the salt in the bread
– Christ’s miracles linked to bread (the multiplication of the breads)
– The Lord’s prayer (“give us this day our daily bread…” discussion)
– The Last Supper and the establishment of the Sacrament of the Eucharist
3) Readings from the Acts of the Apostles
– St. Paul talking about the agape feasts of sharing bread and wine
– St. Paul on the strength of the salt
4) Saints/theologians writing on bread
– St. Maximus the Confessor on Communion
– St. Justin Popovich on the Bread of Life
5) Saints’ lives connected to bread
– Prosphora-bakers: St. Nikodim and St. Spiridon Prosphora bakers of the Kiev Caves Monastery; St. Prohor Lobodnik and his miraculous bread at the Kiev Lavra; St. Pavel Turnogorski depicted with a prosphora in hands
– Bakers: St. Michael the New Martyr baker in Greece (18th century); St. Dimiter of Sliven, Bulgaria, martyred under the Ottomans (18th century)
– Holy women related to making bread: St. Lucia (3rd cen, Sicily; venerated in Sweden for bringing a ship full of wheat); St. Genevieve of Paris (brough ship with flour and made bread for people all over Paris during times of famine) (4th cen.); St. Juliania of Murom, Russia (made bread for the poor in times of famine) (18th cen.), troparion in English (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkilwlE6Gtw)
– Holy men related to making bread: St. Herman of Alaska, who regularly made cookies for the Aleut Children; related to St. Innocent of Alaska and His translation of the Lord’s prayer with the replacement of the word “bread” with the word “fish” for cultural reasons to be understood by the local tribes;
– Holy cooks: St. Isidora the Cook, the humble cook disdained by all; similar story to St. Ephrosynius the Cook
– Fools for Christ: St. Sophia of Klisura (new Greek saint) who lived in the fireplace, and her miracles; St. Liubov of Riazan (new Russian saint) also lived by the fireplace and performed many miracles.
– Saints associated with bread as a metaphor: St. Ignacius the Godbearer greeting death by lions “like grain in the mouth of lions”; The student of St. Ignatius burning on the stake and effusing aroma similar to baking bread; St. Theodore Tyron’s troparion and life
– Saints fed by God with bread: Prophet Elijah fed bread by a raven; similar to the life of St. John of Rila, Bulgaria, being fed with bread by an angel; St. Peter the Athonite (June 12, same as St. Onufrious): praying to God to be freed from prison, helped by St. Nicholas and St. Simeon the Godbearer, and then protected by St. Nicholas all along the way from Greece to Rome to be tontured on St. Peter’s grave and then back from Rome to Greece on a ship, which stopped by a port where the monks found a sick family seeking place to bake some bread, and after St. Peter healed them through prayer, they came to the ship with bread, wine, and oil offering, which he accepted with difficulty and then throughout the trip he would only eat that bread, some crumbs each day. The Panagia pointed him to Mt. Athos, where first he lived on the bread, and then an angel started coming every 40 days to bring him manna. – St. Prosphora’s life.
– Stories about how collective bread-making has been changing the lives of people in different communities around the world where Bread Houses Network programs have been set up or workshops have been organized by Dr. Nadezhda Savova (stories from countries from 5 continents)
– Nun Isidora (bread-baker at the Agia Skepi Monastery in Pennsylvania, USA) telling the story of a father with 7 children who always lets them shape the dough last so that the final touch is a “touch of love” and, indeed, the touch of the children changing the taste of bread; Sister Isidora: “you have to be organized and scientific in bread-making as much as letting go of your own control in spiritual life”
– Stories from the Platina Monastery (founded by Fr. Seraphim Rose) about the pea-pie the monks make for St. Herman of Alaska’s Day
– Monk Justin the Prosphora-baker from the Bulgarian Zograph Monastery on Mt. Athos and his stories about how bread-making taught him the fundamental Christian principles
– Orthodox singer Jordan Banev at Holy Transfiguration church, Sofia, and his memories as baker
– Fr. Ivan and his St. Nicholas Orphanage in Novi Han, Bulgaria: his recollections of making kilos of breads for the orphans when he founded an orphanage and shelter for prostitutes and their children, and the only food they had was donated flour
Download here the article in Where Women Cook magazine featuring Dr. Nadezhda Savova