My First Phanouropita

A little over a week ago, Ian and I had thought we had lost two icons. We were panicked searching where we had last seen them. Eventually dinner-time came and we both decided to break from the search to eat. While we tried to enjoy the meal and talk about things, we were both trying to wrap our minds around our carelessness with 2 precious saintly images. As the meal wraps up and John leaves the table to play, Ian says,”Emily, I know you have looked, but will you try one more time to find the icons while I clear the table?”

I laughed and made a joke about taking the opportunity to not clean up, but knew how important this was both of us. Ian was finishing up a post on his blog about these images and honestly I have been procrastinating getting them mounted, so they needed to be found. I go back to the office and glance around as I step over piles of stuff we have already gone through. When I get to the epicenter, aka the last place I remember seeing them, I do one last look around, then raise my hands and ask God for help. I apologize for my sloth and disorganization, for not treating these icons with care and respect.

Mid prayer, I remember a saint that is talked about often in my Orthodox Mom’s group, Saint Phanourios. While I have never studied this saint, I have read countless stories of moms, finding any thing from toddler shoes to keys to wallets and important documents. In the moment, I can’t remember his name so I ask saint P, the finder of lost things to intercede for me and help me find the icons. Once I finish asking this, I look down and on top of a pile, I know Ian and I have both moved and gone through are the icons. They weren’t like sticking out the side or half covered, they are on top… fully visible. Glory to God who is wondrous in His saints!

I say a quick prayer of thanks and show Ian, who is very grateful. Then I also know that as part of the tradition of Saint Phanourios, we need to bake a cake that we share with others as we share the story of how his intercessions helped us. I spent a few days reading what is known about St. Phanourios and various recipes of the phanouropita (cake). I felt like I needed to get it made, picked a recipe, but I felt rushed. I only said thanksgiving prayers halfheartedly and even though the recipes said not to use an electric mixer and use the time spent beating by hand to reflect and pray, I relied on my skills as a baker and went for the quicker method, I mean why wouldn’t it turn out as long as it was well mixed.

As the picture above shows.. It didn’t turn out, in fact even though baked well, it didn’t even taste good. I knew I had missed the mark. I had put too much in the rush to make it to give the time and faith to the act of devotion. The next day I decided to try again. I said a few prayers at our prayer corner, I sang a hymn as I slowly beat by hand and read psalms and reflected while the cake was baking. I wasn’t out for a quick fix this time, I really wanted to honor Christ and all the saints in what I was doing.  Honestly it didn’t take that much more time and it was more enjoyable. It didn’t matter that laundry needed folded or that the floors needed vacuumed. John even climbed up in my lap and we read some psalms out loud, making this more than just about me fulfilling a request, but a moment to help John grow and develop in the faith, which is what the whole experience is supposed to be… sharing the faith with love.

The phanouropita turned out beautifully and has been shared with loved ones along with the story of how St. Phanourios helped us and a new tradition has been born in our family. Hopefully we won’t need St. Phanourios to help us find icons, but this experience has opened a new avenue to help us find lost items. I am so grateful to many mom’s who shared their stories surrounding this saint, so that I was able to call on him and we as a family were able to grow our faith.

May Christ keep us in his mercy always and if any of you lose something maybe the dear Saint P can help you too.

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