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Health of Body and Soul Session I

Using the exercise of making bread, participants will discuss "health of body," including how food impacts our spirit, what kinds of nourishment our bodies need, the ultimate purpose of our bodies: temples of the Holy Spirit; and getting in touch with our bodies' basic needs: food and drink.

For this session you will need a bible and the following ingredients for holy bread:

  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoon yeast
  • 2 ¾ cups warm water, divided
  • 7 cups whole grain bread flour
  • 2 - 9" round pans with at least a 2-inch rim to ensure that the bread is at least 3-4 inches high after baking

This prosphoro recipe was posted with permission from the following website:

Session Breakdown:
Activity: Making Bread
To Sum Up and Challenge

Campers will take home the knowledge of how to make Prosphoro and a renewed understanding of the Eucharist.

State the following in your own words: Our topic today is Health of Body and Soul. In today's session we will focus on health of the body, using bread as our illustration. Our activity will be to make holy bread. When we think about bread, we think about sustenance. We think about basic life necessities such as food and clothing. We know that people can survive on merely bread and water as food and drink. So, bread symbolizes nourishment, health, basic sustenance and food. Bread also has some great health benefits, which we'll discuss during our activity. Today, we'll be making bread, and then later today, breaking bread together.

Activity: Making Bread
Dissolve yeast in a glass bowl, using ¾ cup warm water (do not stir) for 10 minutes. While the yeast is dissolving, begin with Trisagion prayers. Then, discuss the health benefits of bread and how bread benefits our bodies. Whole grains have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood coagulation. Whole grains have also been found to reduce the risks of many types of cancer. They may also help regulate blood glucose in people living with diabetes. Other studies have also shown that people who consume more whole grains consistently weigh less than those who consumed less whole grain products. Also, in some cultures, bread has been historically one of the main components of nutritional value. In fact, in Egyptian Arabic, the word for "bread" is also the word for "life."

Ask, "How does bread represent the basic nutritional/bodily needs we have?"

Lightly flour the bottom of the pans. Mix 7 cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt together in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour mixture for the yeast and warm water. Mix thoroughly.

Knead until the dough is not sticky, about 10 minutes, adding small amounts of additional flour if necessary. During the kneading process, read and discuss the following scriptural passage of Jesus' time in the wilderness and temptation:

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.' But He answered and said, ‘It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."'(Matthew 4:1-4)."

Ask, "What does Jesus mean when He says "Man does not live by bread alone?" Briefly discuss.

After this reading and a brief discussion, have the campers take three minutes of silence to pray and reflect as they continue mixing and kneading the bread.

Cut the dough in half. Knead each half again, for about 10-15 minutes each until the dough begins to feel "silky." Shape the dough into disks to fit pan, not allowing them to touch the sides.

Bread is a basic form of sustenance for our bodies. In fact, humans have been known to survive only on bread and water. Today, we've learned how to make a basic food stuff that gets to the core of our bodily needs as human beings.

Discussion Questions:
What are other bodily needs that we have? Answers include food, drink, shelter, warmth, rest/sleep, other people, etc.
How have some of those needs been distorted in our society? Answers include that each bodily need can have either too much focus or too little focus; for example: gluttony and anorexia; idolatry of the body; materialism; laziness; sickness, etc.
How do we make sure we nourish and take care of our bodies, without overly focusing on those needs? The answer lies in Christ's statement, "Man does not live by bread alone," as discussed previously. We need certain physical things, but ultimately our body exists, as our soul does, as a creation of God, and needs Him to survive. So, we focus on our pursuit of God and spiritual things, the so-called non-bread things, while doing what we need to care for our bodily health: the bread.

The Seal: For the loaves you will use for Liturgy, dip the Seal into flour and shake slightly. Make the sign of the Cross with Seal 3 times. Press the Seal firmly into the dough, and remove the seal slowly.

Place toothpicks in the dough at joints and several times around side of bread; cover with double towels. Let the dough rise for about thirty minutes. This will overlap into Session 2 for most groups. That's ok. After the dough has risen, toothpick again in same spots before baking.

During the next session, bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until golden brown. Note: check the bread after about 10 minutes in the oven if possible, poking holes along sides where the prosphoro has started to separate around the edges.

While the dough is rising, wrap up this session. Have someone read the Lord's Prayer from the Gospel:

"In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen " Matthew 6:9-14.

We say this prayer. What does the part mean about "daily bread?" Different theologians say it means different levels of things: daily bread could literally mean "bread" as in nourishment, food, basic bodily needs, etc. It could also mean the daily nourishing bread of the Eucharist, which is a more spiritual level. In any case, the point here is that when we pursue God and the things of God first, God takes care of our physical needs.

To Sum Up and Challenge
Today we've learned how to make bread. Bread can be seen as representing the basic sustenance of life, the physical things our bodies need to survive and thrive. While going through the process of making bread, we've talked about Christ's own words regarding bread: that although our bodies need bread, food, to survive, they also need something else. We'll talk more about this next session.

I challenge you to think more about how you approach food and other necessities. Do any of us place too much focus on these things, so that our focus on God becomes secondary? Do any of us abuse food, drink, rest, or material things by placing too much weight on those things? I challenge you, and all of us, to learn to appreciate the basic way we can care for our bodies, with simple foods such as bread, while also making sure our main focus stays on God and our relationship with Him.

Baking the bread is to be completed after the session by the leader.

Close with a prayer.