HELPFUL BOOKS

Introductory Books

The Orthodox Church

by Kallistos Ware

Since its first publication thirty years ago, Timothy Ware’s book has become established throughout the English-speaking world as the standard introduction to the Orthodox Church. Orthodoxy continues to be a subject of enormous interest among Western Christians and the author believes that an understanding of its standpoint is necessary before the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches can be reunited. In this newly revised and updated edition he explains the Orthodox views on widely ranging matters as Ecumenical Councils, Sacraments, Free Will, Purgatory, the Papacy and the relationship between the different Orthodox churches.

In Part One he describes the history of the Eastern Church over the last two thousand years with particular reference to its problems in twentieth-century Russia: and in Part Two he explains the beliefs and worship of the Orthodox Church today. Finally, he considers the possibilities of reunion between the East and the West. In this latest edition, he takes full account of the totally new situation confronting Eastern Christians since the collapse of Communism.

Introducing the Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life

by Anthony M. Coniaris

Here is a genuinely different and practical book for the inquirer and potential convert to Orthodox Christianity. It is different in a number of ways, all of which commend this volume to wide use by pastors whose task it is to introduce the members of their inquirers classes to an Orthodox way of life which will touch their lives in a full and complete way (Fr. Stanley Harakas). Chapters include: What We Believe About the One Apostolic Church, the Nicene Creed, Jesus, the Holy Trinity, the Divine Liturgy, Salvation, the Church Fathers, the Church Year, Symbols, the Sacraments, the Saints and the Theotokos, Life After Death, the Bible, Icons, Prayers for the Dead, and Prayer.

The Orthodox Faith Volume One: Doctrine and Scripture

by Thomas Hopko

This volume is divided into two parts.  The first outlines the doctrinal teachings of the Orthodox Church by looking at its sources, followed by a commentary on the Nicene Creed and an explanation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Part Two contains an explanation of the primary source of Christian doctrine – Scripture – through an overview of the contents of both the Old and New Testaments.

Read it online here

The Orthodox Faith Volume Three: Church History

by Thomas Hopko, revised and expanded by David Ford

Volume 3 of The Orthodox Faith, entitled Church History, is a succinct overview of Christian history century by century. It presents the most important historical events, leading personalities, and significant doctrinal, liturgical, spiritual, and ecclesiastical developments in the Eastern Orthodox Church, giving the traditional Orthodox perspectives on the historical data. It also includes major events, personalities, and developments in the Christian West, both Roman Catholic and Reformed. The century by century format allows the reader to see what was happening at the same time in different places. The recent centuries that deal with Orthodoxy in North America, and especially with the pre-history and history of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), are treated at greater length because of their nearness to us in time and place, their complexity and importance, and the variety of interpretations that exist today about what occurred. As an OCA publication, this volume provides the OCA’s understanding and interpretation of the historical events.

Read it online here

Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith

by Peter E. Gillquist

This is the story of a handful of courageous men and their congregations who risked stable occupations, security and the approval of life-long friends to be obedient to God’s call.It is also the story of every believer who is searching for the Church. Where Christ is Lord. Where holiness, human responsibility, and the sovereignty of God are preached. Where fellowship is more than a covered-dish supper in the church basement. And where fads and fashions take a backseat to apostolic worship and doctrine.This is a book, for Orthodox Christians, looking for ways to bring new life to their own Churches. It’s also a book for those completely dissatisfied–those on their own search. And it’s a book for Orthodox Christians, looking for renewal.

Bread & Water, Wine & Oil: An Orthodox Christian Experience of God

by Meletios Webber

Worry, despair, insecurity, fear of death … these are our daily companions, and even though we attempt to ignore them or try to crowd them out, they are there, waiting for us in our quieter moments. It is precisely where we hurt most that the experience of the Orthodox Church has much to offer. The remedy is not any simple admonitions to fight the good fight, cheer up, or think positively. Rather, the Orthodox method is to change the way we look at the human person (starting with ourselves). Orthodoxy shows us how to be transformed by the renewing of our mind–a process that is aided by participation in the traditional ascetic practices and Mysteries of the Church. In this unique and accessible book, Archimandrite Meletios Webber first explores the role of mystery in the Christian life, then walks the reader through the seven major Mysteries (or sacraments) of the Orthodox Church, showing the way to a richer, fuller life in Christ.

The Incarnate God: The Feasts of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary (2 Volume Set)

by St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Catherine Aslanoff, Paul Meyendorff(Editor)

The Incarnate God is a multilevel catechism intended for use in classrooms and study groups, and is particularly designed for individual edification and growth. Volume I, organized around Advent, Christmas and the Theophany cycles, includes chapters of the Nativity and Presentation of the Virgin, the Holy Ancestors, angels and the circumcision. Volume II, primarily focusing on Great Lent and the Resurrection, also covers Ascension, Pentecost, and Dormition. Each volume contains a complete index and an extensive glossary explaining liturgical, scriptural, and theological terminology. Includes black amp white illustrations throughout.

 

Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

by Andrew Stephen Damick

Are you an Orthodox Christian who wonders how to explain to your Baptist grandmother, your Buddhist neighbor, or the Jehovah’s Witness at your door how your faith differs from theirs? Or are you a member of another faith who is curious what Orthodoxy is all about? Look no further. In Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy, Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick covers the gamut of ancient heresies, modern Christian denominations, fringe groups, and major world religions, highlighting the main points of each faith. This book is an invaluable reference for anyone who wants to understand the faiths of those they come in contact with—as well as their own.

Orthodox Spirituality

The Orthodox Way

by Kallistos Ware

This book is a general account of the doctrine, worship and life of Orthodox Christians by the author of the now classic THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. It raises the basic issues of theology: God as hidden yet revealed; the problem of evil; the nature of salvation; the meaning of faith; prayer; death and what lies beyond. In so doing, it helps to fill the need for a modern Orthodox catechism. Yet this book is not a mere manual, a dry-as-dust repository of information. Throughout the book, Metropolitan Ware shows the meaning of Orthodox doctrine for the life of the individual Christian. Doctrinal issues are seen not as abstract propositions for thological debate but as affecting the whole of life.
A wealth of texts drawn from theologians and spiritual writers of all ages accompanies Metropolitan Ware’s presentation. They too reveal Orthodoxy not just as a system of beliefs, practices and customs but indeed as the Way.

Beginning to Pray

by Anthony Bloom

Hailed both by Catholics and Protestants, it was written by an Orthodox Archbishop for people who had never prayed before and has been read and loved by persons at all levels of spiritual development.

The Orthodox Faith Volume Four: Spirituality

by Thomas Hopko

This volume deals with the main themes of Christian Life: prayer, fasting, repentance, the virtues, witness in the world, and communion with God.

Read it online here

The Mountain of Silence: A Search for Orthodox Spirituality

by Kyriacos C. Markides

The spiritual traditions of the Eastern Orthodox Church are all but unknown to most Christians in the West, who often think of Christianity as split into two camps: Bible-based Protestantism and sacramental Catholicism. Yet in The Mountain of Silence, sociologist Kyriacos Markides suggests that Orthodox spirituality offers rich resources for Western Christians to integrate the head and the heart, and to regain a more expansive view of Christian life. The book combines elements of memoir, travelogue, and history in a single story. Markides journeys to a cluster of monasteries on Mount Athos, an isolated peninsula in northern Greece and one of the holiest sites in the Orthodox tradition. He also visits the troubled island of Cyprus, largely occupied by Turkey since 1974, and makes the acquaintance of a monk named Father Maximos, who has established churches, convents, and monasteries. Markides, a native Cypriot, tells the tale of this journey in a tone that’s loose and light, with many excursions on Church history and Greek and Turkish politics. But despite the easygoing tone, the importance of this book is potentially immense. The Mountain of Silence introduces a world that is entirely new to many Western readers, and unveils a Christian tradition that reveres the mystical approach to God as much as the rational, a tradition that Markides says “may have the potential to inject Christianity with the new vitality that it so desperately needs.”

Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father: Being the Narratives Compiled by the Servant of God Alexander Concerning His Spiritual Father (Father Arseny #1)

by Vera Bouteneff (Editor/Translator)

Gives stirring glimpses of Fr Arseny’s life in a Soviet prison camp and tells the stories of those whose lives were transfigured through their connection with him.

Wounded by Love

by Saint Porphyrios

Elder Porphyrios, a Greek monk and priest who died in 1991, stands in the long tradition of charismatic spiritual guides in the Eastern Church which continues from the apostolic age down to figures such asd Saint Seraphim of Sarov and Staretz Silouan in modern times. In this book he tells the story of his life and, in simple, deeply reflected and profoundly wise words, he expounds the Christian Faith today.

Our Thoughts Determine our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

by Elder Thaddeus

Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica was one of the most renowned spiritual guides of Serbia in the twentieth century. As a novice he lived in obedience to Elder Ambrose of Miljkovo Monastery, a disciple of the Optina Elders. From him Fr. Thaddeus learned the Prayer of the Heart and the selfless love that came to characterize his whole ministry to the suffering Serbian people.

Born in 1914, Elder Thaddeus lived through all the suffering endured by Serbia in the twentieth century. Over the course of two World Wars, during the Communist takeover, and through the NATO bombings of 1999, he co-suffered with his people. He taught, counseled, and prayed for all who came to him in pain and sorrow. His words of love and hope provided spiritual balm for people from all classes of society.

In 2002 Elder Thaddeus reposed, leaving behind a large collection of his teachings, preserved by his faithful spiritual children. His life, teachings, and spiritual conversations are here presented for the first time in English.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories

by Tikhon Shevkunov

 

More than a million copies and several million electronic versions of this book have sold in less than a year. Everyday Saints and Other Stories is the English translation of a work that has soared at the top of the bestseller lists in Russia since its publication in late 2011. Its readership spans philosophical boundaries, from the devoutly religious to the vehemently atheist. Discover a wondrous, enigmatic, remarkably beautiful, yet absolutely real world. Peer into the mysterious Russian soul, where happiness reigns no matter what life may bring.

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection

by Benedicta Ward (Translator), Metropolitan Anthony (Bloom) of Sourozh (Preface by)

`Give me a word, Father’, visitors to early desert monks asked. The responses of these pioneer ascetics were remembered and in the fourth century written down in Coptic, Syriac, Greek, and later Latin. Their Sayings were collected, in this case in the alphabetical order of the monks and nuns who uttered them, and read by generations of Christians as life-giving words that would help readers along the path to salvation.

Missionary Letters of Saint Nikolai Velimirovich: Letters 1–100

by Nikolaj Velimirović, Milorad Loncar (Editor), Hierodeacon Seraphim Baltic (Translator)

“Aside from many significant works, Saint Nikolai of Zhicha and Ohrid wrote answers to many questions which people asked him as a young and learned monk and eventually a Bishop. Answers to these questions have been titled ‘Missionary Letters’ which were printed for the first time in Bitola in 1932. Since then, the Missionary Letters, 300 in number, have been reprinted several times. And now, the first third of these Missionary Letters is being printed both in the English and Serbian languages, by our Diocesan Joe Buley Library, located in New Gracanica Monastery. Our goal is to make it accessible to as many faithful as possible, especially to the American readers, so they may learn of these pearls of genuine Serbian spirituality.”

 

The Jesus Prayer: The Ancient Desert Prayer that Tunes the Heart to God

by Frederica Mathewes-Green

In the earliest centuries of faith, Christians in the deserts of Palestine and Africa sought a short prayer that could be easily repeated, in order to acquire the habit of “prayer without ceasing.” The result was The Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” This jewel of Eastern Christianity aims at enabling a person to be in God’s presence, rather than to focus on feelings or thoughts about God. The first section of The Jesus Prayer offers a concise overview of the history, theology, and spirituality of Orthodoxy, so that the Prayer can be understood in its native context. Following, is a conversational question-and-answer format that takes the reader through practical steps for adopting this profound practice in everyday life.

 

Close to Home: One Orthodox Mother’s Quest for Patience, Peace and Perseverance

by Molly Sabourin

Close to Home is for every young mother who’s ever wished children came with an instruction manual; who’s ever longed for just one quiet minute to finish a thought or utter a prayer; who’s ever despaired over perfecting herself in time to become a good example for her children; who’s ever wondered why “happily ever after” takes so much darn work.With courage, humor and unflinching honesty, Molly Sabourin addresses all these frustrations and more-offering not answers or solutions, but a new perspective, a pat on the shoulder, a reassuring “I’ve been there too, and there is hope.” Those who share her “quest for patience, peace, and perseverance” will see themselves in these pages, laugh a little, cry a little and close the book with new strength to continue the quest.

Liturgical Life

For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy

by Alexander Schmemann

An approach to the world and to life that stems from the liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church. Deals with the issues of “secularism” and Christian culture, viewing them from the perspective of the Church as revealed and communicated in its worship and liturgy.

The Orthodox Faith Volume Two: Worship

by Thomas Hopko

This volume contains five sections, highlighting different aspects related to worship in the Orthodox Church: the church building; vestments and symbols; the sacraments; the daily cycles of worship; the church year with its fasts and feasts; and the Divine Liturgy.

Read it online here

The Eucharist: Sacrament of the Kingdom

by Alexander Schmemann

The crowning achievement of Fr Schmemann’s work, reflecting his entire life experience as well as his thoughts on the Divine Liturgy.

 

Great Lent: Journey to Pascha

by Alexander Schmemann

This revised edition of Father Alexander Schmemann’s Lenten classic examines the meaning of Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian, the Canon of St Andrew of Crete and other neglected or misunderstood treasures of Lenten worship. Schmemann draws on the Church’s sacramental and liturgical tradition to suggest the meaning of Lent in our life. The Lenten season is meant to kindle a ‘bright sadness’ within our hearts. Its aim is precisely the remembrance of Christ, a longing for a relationship with God that has been lost. Lent offers the time and place for recovery of this relationship. The darkness of Lent allows the flame of the Holy Spirit to burn within our hearts until we are led to the brilliance of the Resurrection.