Sunday, September 22, 2013

New Prosforon bakers always needed!

Prosforon ("Offering") is the altar bread used for communion, literally transformed into the body of  Christ during the Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy. And it does not come from a bakery.

It is offered by a congregant who has baked 5 loaves stamped with a religious seal at home and brought them to church, usually with a list of family names (living and deceased) to be read during the service. 

 A few days ago, I was lucky to get a Prosforon-baking lesson. It took place in a home kitchen where my grandmother Eugenia Sarris had given my teacher that very same lesson. I am sure there is more than one kitchen in Stockton/Lodi/Tracy where that happened -- just like other women taught their daughters and friends over time, passing on a tradition of serving the church in this most meaningful way.

It's not so difficult to bake these loaves, just important to pay attention and make them exactly as proscribed -- beautifully round and smooth, lightly-browned with a clear-cut seal. It's a labor of love dependent on good yeast, purposeful kneading and no bubbles. (Before baking, 12 pricks with a toothpick are made at an angle around the seal, with four more around the inner square and one in the middle to facilitate the priest's work preparing the sacrament.)

At St. Basil's, one congregant bakes the Prosfora for every Divine Liturgy during an entire month. Sometimes it's not so easy to line up 12 bakers for this important task, so new volunteers are always needed to keep up the baking tradition that has been so much a part of St. Basil's Church life for 84 years. 

How about you? Baking lessons (if needed) will be provided. I can vouch for that!

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