JOF Orthodox Books


“Joy of Fasting” Orthodox Books:

Listed below are book titles, gathered from parishioners, which are either educational in nature or provide spiritual enhancement.As the Joy of Fasting Project seeks to expand its focus to supporting the entire spiritual endeavor of Fasting, we begin our efforts by reviewing excellent Orthodox books approved by parishioners.Please feel free to share the titles of other Orthodox books which you have enjoyed. Books may be purchased at the Church Bookstore or online at Light and Light Publishing, Conciliar Press or Archangelsbooks.com.

To facilitate ease in reviewing/selecting books, this compilation is arranged according to Orthodox topics which are as follows:

·Athonite Wisdom

·Eastern Orthodox Theology

·Lives of the Saints

·Marriage/Family Life

·Orthodox Spirituality


The Joy of Fasting Group thanks the following for their book recommendations:

Paul Lundberg, Stephanie Gianaris, Monique Nikolov, Elene Catrakilis, Christine Stavrou, Steven Hanes, Frances Mavridis, and Paula Rogers


A Beginner’s Introduction to the Philokalia

by Anthony Coniaris

The Philokalia—Greek for “love of the beautiful /holy/exalted”—is an extensive collection of writings gathered into 4 volumes. Obviously, it would take quite a bit of time to read it in its entirety!This book offers the reader a summary and introduction to Philokalic concepts such as the following (to list just a few): The Jesus Prayer, (Nepsis) Vigilance, (Hesychia) Inner Stillness, Askesis (Discipline), (Dikrisis) Discernment, Mnimi Theou (The Remembrance of God), Logismoi, Theosis.This wonderful book provides exposure to Eastern Orthodox ascetic spirituality.It is particularly fascinating if one has not previously encountered these concepts in Western Christianity.

NOTE:The Philokalia was first compiled at Mt Athos and many Athonites contributed to its content, hence the listing under “Athonite Wisdom”.

The Mountain of Silence

by Kyriacos C. Markides

What I like most about this book is its accessibility.  Unlike other, drier introductions to the faith, this one is presented in the context of a relationship, using dialogue.  I also appreciate its focus on the “eye of contemplation” as a corrective to the rational-empirical mindset that has dominated the Western world since Descartes.

*Available in the Church Bookstore

Wounded by Love

Elder Porphyrios is all heart.  I was especially edified to learn how he learned to pray.

With Pain and Love for Contemporary Man

This book contains the wisdom of Elder Paisios, from Mt Athos.Elder Paisios mentored Fr Maximos from the book entitled “The Mountain of Silence”.

“Counsels from the HolyMountain Selected from the Letters and Homilies of Elder Ephraim (From St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Arizona)

In the Spirit of Happiness

by the Monks of New Skete.

Written along the lines of The Pilgrims Way with a contemporary twist, In the Spirit of Happiness follows the journey of a seeker, a composite of all of us who search for the elusive state of mind called happiness. The seeker’s thoughts and questions are chronicled, along with ageless wisdom provided by Father Laurence and other monks at New Skete monastery drawn from the writings of the early church fathers. Though serious in content, the thread of warmth and compassion woven throughout the book makes In the Spirit of Happiness an insightful (and delightful) read for any who are determined to pursue spiritual understanding and wisdom revealed in the Eastern Orthodox traditions no matter how difficult the quest. In The Spirit of Happiness, unveiling the dynamics of happiness!

*Available in Church bookstore


Eastern Orthodoxy Compared

Rev. Fr. Constantine Mathews, Protopresbyter

This little treasure of a book concisely presents why the Orthodox Church has the right to make the claim it is the True Church/True Faith. It compares the differences

between Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism as well as all major Protestant denominations. It not only educates via comparative theology, but it also inspires devotion and dedication to the Orthodox Church. One gains an understanding that Orthodoxy truly is a repository of Christian truths as received from Christ, His Apostles,

the Apostolic Fathers and the various ecumenical councils. Great footnotes, scriptural quotes, diagrams and timelines are provided.It is a “must-buy” for all converts to Orthodoxy and those expanding their knowledge base on Orthodoxy.

Encountering the Mystery (Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today)

by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW

* Available in the Church Bookstore

Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America

by Marilyn Rouvelas

This reference book details both Orthodox and Greek cultural traditions. It is beautifully presented and arranged. The format facilitates expedited integration of the concepts. As a convert, if you are not Greek and from a Western Christianity background, the concepts detailed in this book would otherwise take years (and much confusion) to learn on your own.This text is a worthy investment for converts. The book can also serve as a conversation piece with your sponsor/Nouna/Nouno to confirm if the Greek traditions in the book, are actually observed in your local parish, as some traditions, apparently vary according to location.

* Available in the Church Bookstore

Let us Attend: A Journey through the Orthodox Divine Liturgy

My Daily Orthodox Prayer Book

by Fr Anthony Coniaris

This marvelous compilation of prayers—for any and all occasions—is a helpful prayer tool for an Orthodox Christian.It also contains a preface which discusses the cultivation of daily prayer.

The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions & Answers:by Rev. Stanley Harakas

This alphabetized reference book employs a “question and answer technique” to convey Orthodox theology, history, etiquette and spirituality in an easy to read format.The reader may either proceed alphabetically cover to cover (a haphazard presentation of ideas would thus ensue) or, depending on your spiritual needs, you may review specific concepts, as the book is naturally indexed by manner of its presentation. As a convert to the Eastern Orthodox Faith, I appreciated the sheer breadth of topics covered.It was

a fascinating read and provided insight as to the direction for further research.

Orthodox Study Bible (Sold in our Bookstore) Superlative in every way, the preface to each section as well as footnotes provide an Orthodox perspective as well as historical and theological information not commonly seen in other Bible.A worthy investment!


St Nectarios: A Saint for our Century

by Sotos Chondropoulos

This book is a deeply moving and inspirational biography of modern Greece’s greatest saint. Using first hand witness accounts of those who personally knew St Nectarios, the book details his struggles, miracles and covers the accounts of his everyday life.The gentleness of his personality and spiritual essence wafts up from the page like incense and acts like a companion in your life as you read the book. It is hard to put down once you begin reading! It will become a cherished part of your Orthodox book collection, once completed.An added benefit to this book is that the icon of St Nectarios (slated for installation in Feb or March 2009 in our Church) will mean so much more to you when you worship in our sanctuary! The Spiritual Book Club will be discussing this book in March.J* Available in Church Bookstore

Saint Silouan, the Athonite byArchimandrite Sophrony

The first part of this book is an account of St Silouan’s life, personality and teaching by his spiritual disciple Archimandrite Sophrony. Archimandrite Sophrony went to Mt Athos in 1925 and there at the Monastery of St Panteleimon became amanuensis to Staretz Silouan. The second part comprises the writings of Silouan, for a “first hand” exposure to the saint.A slow read, but a good one.


“On Marriage & Family Life” by St John Chrysostom

Christian tradition often seems to give only grudging approval to the married life, particularly its sexual aspect. In these sermons of St John Chrysostom we find an important corrective to this view. Although himself a monk, he had a profound understanding of the needs of his congregation. Inspired by the epistles to the Corinthians and Ephesians, he discusses their reasons God instituted marriage — primary to promote holiness of the husband and wife, and only secondarily to produce children. St John Chrysostom goes on to discuss sexual relations, the mutual responsibilities of marriage, and parenting. While parts of his sermons may seem limited to his own time, the vast majority of his advice has timeless relevance for the Orthodox Christian family.

*Available in Church bookstore


The Ascetic of Love

by Nun Gavrilia

Confession (Doorway to Forgiveness)

by JimForest

The author, an Orthodox Christian, who lives in the Netherlands, begins with a brief history of the tradition and sacrament of Confession.He draws on scripture, stories from the saints, personal experiences. Forest explains the key elements in confession and discusses the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Last Judgment, and the Prayer of Ephraim the Syrian (recited by Orthodox Christians daily throughout Lent). Forest also explores the subject of finding a confessor and offers a selection of stories about confessions culled from his friends–laypeople, nuns, monks, and priests. This informative book includes a list of biblical texts to read in preparing for confession.

(as per book synopsis).

An Englishman in the Court of the Tsar

by Christine Benaugh

This book details the journey of a person who discovers Orthodoxy.It reads like a novel.

Father Arseny 1893-1973 Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father

This narrative, compiled from accounts of Father Arseny’s spiritual children and others whom he brought to God, gives stirring glimpses of his life in a Soviet prison camp and after his release. It also tells the stories of people whose lives, often during times of almost unimaginable crisis, were touched and transfigured through their connection with Father Arseny. (As per book synopsis)

Great Lent, Journey to Pascha

by Alexander Schmemann

If a person had no time to read anything else for Lent, except one book, this one is highly recommended by a parishioner. Schmemann deals with deep theological issues in a way that is very easy to read. It would be a good book to include during Great Lent.

* Available at Church bookstore

The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios

by Dionysios Farasiotis

The story of a young man’s spiritual journey from the ashrams of India to the monasteries of Mt Athos, Greece.

The InnerKingdom

by Bishop Kallistos Ware

This work focuses on themes central to Eastern Christian worship and spiritual life and serves as an introduction to the series of six volumes of Bishop Kallistos’ collected works. The opening chapter recounts the author’s journey to Orthodoxy. The next two chapters provide profound and illuminating insights on death, bereavement and resurrection in Christ, and on repentance. Chapters four through seven invite us into the world of the desert ascetics and monks. Combining scholarly rigor with practical counsels on prayers, Bishop Kallistos makes the wealth of the Orthodox tradition accessible to today’s Christians. The next three chapters concern personal vocation, martyrdom, spiritual guidance, and the strange path of the fool for Christ’s sake. There follows a brief essay on time and eternity. (as per book synopsis)

*Available at Church bookstore

The Ladder of the Beatitudes

by JimForest

A short volume of reflections on the Beatitudes of Jesus. They are sermons in the original sense of the word, informal chats with historical, personal, and homely examples and comparisons. Certain to offer comfort, knowledge, and inspiration to Christians seeking sources for reflection on the words of Jesus. (As per book synopsis).

Living A Balanced Life in an Unbalanced World

by Fr Anthony Coniaris

Shows how the virtue of temperance (balance) can lead to sane and healthy living in all areas of life. By exposing the many imbalances in contemporary life, the author points out the need for a vital balance. Highlights the need for balance in prayer; love; work; play; balance in the stewardship of time, talents and possessions; balance between knowledge and wisdom; balance between authoritarianism and permissiveness; balance between our rights and our responsibilities; balance in fasting; balance between clergy and laity in the governance of the Church, etc. Demonstrates through many powerful examples how true balance occurs in life when we prioritize God, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness. (As per book synopsis)

The Return of the Prodigal Son

by Henri J.M. Nouwen

The splendid challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son is the overriding message of this beloved spiritual writer’s deeply personal and resonant meditation on the parable of the return of the prodigal son, as inspired by Rembrandt’s painted masterpiece.

(as per book synopsis)

Surprised by Christ

by Rev. A James Bernstein

This book is about one person’s discovery of Orthodoxy. It reads like a novel.

*Available at Church bookstore

Victory in the Unseen Warfareby Fr. Jack N Sparks

Virtue in the Unseen Warfareby Fr Jack N Sparks

(Adaptations from the classic spiritual work, The Unseen Warfare).

A contemporary adaptation of a spiritual classic. Fr. Jack has drawn upon several versions of a classic sixteenth-century treatise, Spiritual Combat, originally written to guide monks in their labors to attain union with God. Though Western in origin, the profound spiritual insights of Spiritual Combat were recognized by Eastern writers such as Nicodemus of the HolyMountain and Saint Theophan the Recluse, who subsequently edited and revised it in accordance with traditional Orthodox beliefs. In one form or another, this work has been revered as a classic on spiritual warfare for over four hundred years. (as per book synopsis)

The Way of a Pilgrim and a Pilgrim finds his Way

This is the story of an anonymous 19th-century Russian peasant who wanted to learn to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17) and was introduced to the Jesus Prayer–the continuous repetition of “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner“.

The book follows his spiritual maturation process and is an inspiring read.

The Way of the Ascetics

by Tito Colliander’s

This is a classic text about one of the most important aspects of Orthodox life:  ascetic practice.  I have not read a better summary than this book.

*Available in Church bookstore