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Good books on Orthodox spirituality

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#101 Arsenios


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Posted 25 October 2003 - 02:40 PM

Daniel writes:

Could any of you recommend any book to me on Orthodox Spirituality? I'm looking for some more things to read.

First, listen carefully to Fr. A's words.

Second, reading Fr. Romanides should help, for he writes of the three stage nature of the Christian life, and it begins with purification of the heart, and that spells repentance, and it is ongoing, effective, and life-long repentance that gradually forms the basis for the next stage, which is enlightenment of the nous... No instant Zen here!


With an article on Orthodox Spirituality:

And with an article on "What is a Byzantine?"

The whole site is worth reading, and is simply written, simple enough even for me...

Third, there is a book of that title, Orthodox Spirituality, of which you can read three chapters free online [then buy the book] at:

These were all helpful to me on my journey into Orthodoxy, as was the Philokalia and the Way of a Pilgrim, but I should tell you that until I turned away from all these and focused on my own repentance, I continued as a catechumen in the fall of prelest [spiritual delusion], to which I am still susceptible...

"Spiritual experience" outside of Orthodoxy can lead the wandering horse to the holy waters, but once there, the horse needs to enter the waters and drink, and not look back upon what got it there, seeking to slake its thirst in that journey, lest it die of the very thirst that brought it to the holy waters of Orthodoxy...

May God continue to bless you upon your wanderings, Daniel...

geo - Arsenios

#102 Guest_Loretta

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 04:09 PM

Greetings in Christ, Daniel

I'm currently reading "The Mountain of Silence" - a Search for Orthodox Spirituality by Kyriacos C. Markides ($12.95) and it's extremely interesting. I know I'll be rereading this a few times as there is so much to learn from it.

#103 Guest_Catholic

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 04:16 PM

I have a question -- since Daniel is a Byzantine Catholic, and Byzantine Catholics are (from what I have read on the Internet Byzantine discussion boards) following the Orthodox theology and Orthodox practice and so on, as opposed to anything Roman at all, wouldn't the path of such a person be, in any case, to study the Orthodox theology and practice, and Orthodox lives of saints? Is this correct? So Daniel could surely ask his priest for direction too, and would it not be basically Orthodox too? (I've not been to an EC parish so I don't know).

I know that there are some who do convert, too, and leave EC for the Orthodox Church, but I've not met any in person yet.

Anyway, my question is, it seems to me that Eastern Catholic parish priests, then, would give Daniel a reading list similar to an Orthodox priest or monk such as our Father Averky - is that right? Aren't all these people 'on the same page' theologically, in prayer/liturgies, and in terms of following practices even such as fasting?

Maybe I'm just trying to say, since they say they are basically Orthodox too, their formation in faith, I'd imagine, would be Orthdox too.

Is this right?

#104 Guest_Byzcath1

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 05:04 PM

Eastern Rite Catholics,used to be part of Orthodoxy but certian groups of former Orthodox Communities recgonized the Authority of the Pope of Rome and came into communion with the Pope, we do have the Same Liturgy, Tradtiisons, Theological Approach, Eastern Saints, and Spirituality. The only differences is that we recognize the pope as the head of the universal catholic church. God Bless.

In Christ +

you should visit www.byzantines.net/about

#105 Guest_Byzcath1

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 05:18 PM

Dear: Fr. A

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Ive looked into orthodoxy and i just cant except their view on the papacy, ive read some of the early fathers, that support the Western Idea of the papacy. As far was the Orthodox Spirituality.
I know what you mean, but as a byzantine catholic, which is akin to the orthodox church in every thing except a few major doctrines, i feel drawn to the Spirituality. I want to grow in it, because after i do my 4 years in the Marines, im going to apply to our Seminary. I myself pray the Chotki, not well but i try the best i know how.

Through the Theotokos

#106 Guest_Fr John Wehling

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 05:54 PM


This is a big topic, and we won't resolve it here, but let me add a few things.

In the first centuries the Eastern Church did accept the Pope of Rome as the first among equals, but this does not amount to the later belief in papal primacy. Modern Roman Catholic scholars will themselves admit that the teaching that the Pope has authority throughout the Church as the "Vicar of Christ" or some such thing is a development and that it was not the view of any -- East or West, even of the Popes -- prior to Gregory the Great (died 604). They have no problem with this development, however, because the RC tradition now allows for the development of doctrine and embraces it. They really have to embrace such a teaching to uphold such things as papal primacy (defined as above) and the Immaculate Conception.

The Orthodox, on the other hand, have always maintained the older, traditional view of the Pope of Rome, which sees him as the first among equals or the elder brother. In fact, all of the ancient Patriarchates were ranked from first to fifth, but this did not destroy the collegiality of the Bishops (because all bishops, from the lowest to the highest, are truly equal) as much as it preserved good order in the Church.

Peace to you,
Fr John

#107 Guest_Catholic

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 06:44 PM

I am sorry if I started a discussion 'in the wrong direction' on this. I only meant to ask if - since the EC's consider themselves Orthodox in spirituality, as I've read on the net ("Orthodox in communion with Rome"), then any EC or EO would be recommending the same or similar spiritual resources to study. I wanted to know if the Orthodox and Eastern Catholics here (since I am neither) could tell me if I understand this correctly. The spirituality is the same, isn't it?

#108 Guest_Fr John Wehling

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 07:18 PM


Don't worry, we are all being quite amiable, I think. :>)

Since I am not Catholic, or Byzantine Catholic, I am not sure my answer I will get agreement from Daniel on this, but I will add my two cents worth, which is really a statement and another question.

First, the statement. For the Orthodox, our "spirituality" cannot be practiced or understood outside of the Church (meaning the Orthodox Church) because there is, no separation between faith and life, dogma and practice/praxis, etc. So to speak of "Orthodox Spirituality" is, to some degree, a misnomer. If we mean that phrase as simply descriptive of Orthodox practices of ascesis, prayer, participation in the Holy Mysteries (sacraments), etc., then okay. But if that description leads to a belief or an attempt to practice "Orthodox spirituality" outide of the Church (if it becomes prescriptive instead of descriptive, I guess you could say), then, as Fr Averky has pointed out, this is not okay because it is dangerous. It might very well lead one, for example, to think that they are "basically" Orthodox when they are still outside of the Church.

Now the question. Since Byzantine Catholic's are in communion with Rome, wouldn't they also accept other "spiritualities" besides "Orthodox spirituality" as good and helpful, say Carmelite or Ignatian? If so, then from an Orthodox point of view this would be problematic because in several ways these different spiritualities are in conflict with one another.

Forgive me, for I don't mean this to sound harsh or judgmental, only to be faithful to all spiritualities represented. :>)

Fr John

#109 Guest_Byzcath1

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 07:22 PM

Yes Catholic, the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, Spirituality is identical this is because we do share the same spiritual patrimony with the Orthodox christians.

Through the Theotokos

#110 Guest_Catholic

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 07:35 PM

Father John, Bless!
Thank you Father for your reply.

I don't think that the BC's 'take' any other point of view (Carmelite, etc) other than the Orthodox and it looks as if Daniel is saying here yes, the two are identical, Orthodox and EC's basically equal the 'same thing' -- the only quesition (which is the one sort of getting off on completely another subject,really) is ... do the Orthodox churches see the Eastern Catholics also as being truly IN the Orthodox church - and - therefore Orthodox? It seems that there's a good chance they do not. I see the Eastern Catholics saying: "We ARE Orthodox!- We are however in communion with Rome" and so now I will have to reread your answer to see what you mean - are the EC's not really Orthodox -- according to the Eastern Orthodox -- because they're not in the EO Church (even though in their own eyes they ARE EO?).

Is it the case that some Orthodox DO recognize these EC's and some do not, as being 'the same' as they are?

#111 Guest_Janice Chadwick

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 08:05 PM

Thank you, Fr. Averky, for your post. I always need those warnings, and I have a feeling that many of us can use them. I think that may especially be true for those of us who come from Protestant backgrounds (I was Southern Baptist before converting). It's very tempting to just wade in and start reading, and, of course, like you said, we want to go right to the most "spiritual" things. We're not used to getting permission from our spiritual father before we read these materials. I'm learning that I have to learn the basics of Orthodoxy first and then build up from there. I have the "Philokalia", but my priest has told me not to read that. I also have "Ladder of Divine Ascent" and "Way of the Pilgrim", but I'm not going to read either of them without Fr.'s permission to do so. It's about time to see what he thinks I should read for Nativity Fast. I haven't read much of the Church Fathers yet because I definitely need Fr.'s guidance on that.

#112 Guest_Byzcath1

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 08:49 PM

Fr. John, it would need to read quotes and writings from the early church fathers, that actually support Orthodoxys view of the papacy even before thinking of converting to Orthodoxy.

I have seen, a bunch of writings by the early fathers supporting the Roman View of the papacy, and i also have never see any scriptural evidence supporting orthodoxy's view.

I hope you can help me with this, thanks for the comments.

In Christ +

#113 Guest_Xenia

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 08:57 PM

Hello everyone,

As a recent convert to Orthodoxy, with 50 years of fundamentalist protestantism behind me, I entered the Church with some Very False Assumptions. First of all, I thought that since I had been a believer for so long, and had worked so long as a Bible teacher and had read the Bible through so many times that I was quite advanced. Oh brother, was I ever wrong! And such a happy humbling I received. Not that I am yet humble.

It is true; reading the lives of the Saints is a good start. And why is that? Well, for me, I had no Orthodox mentors in my life growing up. I didn't know what it meant to be Orthodox, or what it looked like in daily practice. A little child doesn't read theology books, they watch their parents, godparents, and other faithful adults. I missed out on that and I have to start again as a little child. Reading the lives of the Saints helps me catch up.

I have a shelf of Orthodox books that I now realize are too hard for me. But I will say this; reading some of them, or trying to read them, showed me that I have a long, long way to go. It is both encouraging and discouraging.


#114 Guest_Byzcath1

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 09:04 PM

I know the feeling, when i first started to actually learn about catholicism I went to EWTN on there Q&A forum and asked all sorts of questions, then when i go into the questions archive look at every question ive ever asked its amazing how little i knew and still how much i dont know.

In Christ+

#115 Richard Leigh

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 12:23 AM

Dear Daniel,

Fr. Averky begs my pardon because of my own positive experience, as a non-Orthodox with The Way of a Pilgrim. I won't repeat it here but will say that the book teaches that Spirituality is in the living, not reading, and it about progressing spiritually, and for this an experienced Father regarding the practice of the Jesus prayer would be a good thing to have (I hear that crossing a two-way street without looking both ways, particularly when there's heavy traffic can be dangerous. Someone on the other side may shout to you that it worked for him and should be fine, go ahead and try it. Even so, I wouldn't recommend following his advice!)

Besides the other fine recomendations you've already had, I would recomend Unseen Warfare as edited by Nicodemus of the Holy MOuntain and revised by Theophan the Recluse, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.

I recommend it because it started out historically as Spiritual Combat by the Counter-Reformation Italian Catholic priest Lorenzo Scupoli. St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (Athos, as you might know) saw its spritural benifits even though it was R. Catholic, and improved it by making it Orthodox. Later the Russian Orthodox Theophan the Recluse improved it even further.

You might even ask your own priest about it.



P.s., Father Averky, no need to ask, spiritual direction is your field. --RL

#116 Guest_Byzcath1

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Posted 26 October 2003 - 01:50 AM

I dont believe Orthodox Spirituality can only be used with in the Orthodox Church, you can be attached to ignatian or fransican spirutality and not be a jesusit or fransican. Byzantine Catholics oringal patrimony is with the Orthodox Church, you cant take away our Traditions and Spirituality just because our "Alliences" switch to a different Patriarch.

In Christ+

#117 Reader Nektarios

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:28 AM

This stupid ByzCath1 person was me all those years ago. This thread here is when I messaged Father Averky for the first time and started my journey to Holy Orthodoxy. I was baptized into the Holy Orthodox Church right before our Father reposed in the Lord. He is the reason I am in the Ark of Salvation today. I miss him a lot. He did send me a few of his personal icons and books that I still have to this day that are a constant reminder of where I came from. I was converted to the Holy Orthodox Church right on this website. Interesting how God works.

#118 Mikhail Kolitwenzew

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Posted 18 March 2011 - 09:51 AM

Since you ask for a book about "Orthodox Spirituality", what more then could you ask for other than a book which is literally titled "Orthodox Spirituality"?

You can read a portion of the book online Here:


That is also the publishing web-page where you can also buy the book.

Orthodox Spirituality


#119 Christophoros


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Posted 18 March 2011 - 07:05 PM

Orthodox Spirituality: A Practical Guide for the Faithful and a Definitive Manual for the Scholar, by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, published by St. Tikhon's Press.

Reviewers have noted some poor translation issues, but otherwise an excellent work.

#120 David Lanier

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Posted 19 March 2011 - 03:52 PM

One of my all time favorites is Deification in Christ: Orthodox Perspectives the Nature of the Human Person. By Panayiotis Nellas.

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