Saturday, November 16, 2013

Read: Three Books for the Nativity Season

Dear Students and Friends,

Now that we are in the Nativity season and fast, let us set our minds on the incarnation of the Lord on a daily basis. Here are my recommendations for three books that will help us keep this blessed mindset!

For daily use, the book, "Daily Meditations and Prayers for the Christmas Advent Fast and Epiphany" by Emily Harakas and Anthony Coniaris is really good. I have personally used this book for many years. Each day, there are Bible readings to do, an excerpt from the liturgical services for the season, a prayer to the Theotokos, key Scripture verses and a meditation to read--all on two pages! Starting the day with this book is a good way to stay focused.

A new book for this year, "Meditations for Advent: Preparing for Christ's Birth" by Vassilios Papavassiliou is organized around the Sundays in Advent (the Nativity fast) and related material such as Scripture, the icons of the season, and the meaning of the Incarnation. The fifteen chapters could easily be read--three per week--during the almost six weeks of the Nativity fast. The author truly points us in the right direction when he says in Chapter 1:

"The Church's invitation to prepare for the Nativity is above all a command to us to open the gates of repentance, that Christ may enter our very being and be born anew in our hearts, and to offer our virtues to the newborn King."

The third recommended book is called "The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth about the Humanity of Christ" by Father Patrick Reardon. This book is amazing. For anyone who wants to truly learn about and reflect on the incarnation--on Jesus' humanity--this book is for you. Using Scripture, tradition and his vast knowledge of the Bible and the ancient languages, Father Pat shows us the human Jesus we may have missed or never thought about. Very easy to read, heart-warming and heart-moving, this is the perfect book for the Nativity season, to keep our minds set on Him, to remind us that Jesus was made like us.

My friends, I hope you will consider doing some serious spiritual reading this season. Keep a journal of your thoughts, share them with others, witness of the glorious work of our Lord and His incarnation. The world needs Him so much.

You can receive credit for your work. You can earn two credits for each book above that you read. Simply read, fill out the General Worksheet for books (available from the Lessons tab) and e-mail your work to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com. May your reading--and your Nativity fast--be blessed and holy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Featured Book: "At the End of Time"

Dear Students and Friends,

I am currently leading a discussion group on the book of Revelation at St Luke Church (which sponsors this website). One of the books I've found helpful in learning and thinking about Revelation is called "At the End of Time: The eschatological expectations of the Church," by Bishop Gerasimos of Abydos.

This short work (only 94 pages) is a different sort of Revelation book. It is not a commentary, it is not a book trying to decipher the symbology. It is, instead, a thoughtful look at the overall message of Revelation and what it means to our personal history and to the history of the world. It is "His-story"--God's story of how he will deal with mankind within time. Yes, Bishop Abydos does talk about the Apostle John and his mystical visions, but above all, Bishop Abydos asks us to see Revelation as a comfort and as a guide to how we will live in eternity and the choices we make.

I highly recommend this book. It is so sensible and straightforward. It is practical and makes us realize the part we play in the big picture. I think that Bishop Abydos really hits on what's really important in Revelation. I recommend the book to you all.

You can receive two credits for reading this book. Simply read it, fill out the General Worksheet for books (available from the lessons tab), and e-mail your work to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com for credit. May your reading be blessed!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Learning about Angels

The Angel Gabriel

Dear Students and Friends,

Do you ever wonder about angels? Along with us, angels are part of God's kingdom. Here are some resources to help you learn more about these remarkable and heavenly persons.

On OCN's Theologically Thinking podcast, Fr. Stanley Harakas presents a reading entitled “Angels are Everywhere.” Listen now.

On the Mystagogy blog, read an article on "On The Angelic Orders and Their Role," by Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas. Read the article now.

And also on the Mystagogy blog, read a second article on "On The Creation of The Angels" by St Nektarios. Read the article now.

You can receive the following credits for these three activities:
--one credit for listening to the podcast. Complete the podcast worksheet from the lessons tab.
--one credit for reading each article, for a total of two credits. Complete the article worksheet from the lessons tab.

As always, e-mail your completed work to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com. May your learning be blessed!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Read-Along: the last lesson in St Luke

Dear Students and Friends,

And now we come to the last lesson in our Read-Along on the Gospel of St Luke! It has now been posted to the Read-Along tab. Many thanks to teacher Lee for leading this class!

Remember, you can always go back and do a Read-Along on your own. Simply buy one of the books (several are featured on the tab), do the lessons, and e-mail them to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com. You can earn 1 credit for each lesson you complete.

So check out our past Read-Alongs! You'll be blessed by the books and the lessons.

Listen: The Long Road to Orthodoxy

Fr. Brendan Pelphrey
Dear Students and Friends,

On Come Receive the Light, join us for another inspiring conversation about the spiritual journey to Orthodoxy. Fr. Brendan Pelphrey talks about his long and winding road to our historic Church and Faith.

Listen to the podcast now.

You can also read about Fr Pelphrey's journey in his article, Reflection of an Orthodox Pilgrim.

You can earn two credits this time: one for listening to the podcast, and one for reading the article. Simply fill out the Podcast and/or Article Worksheet (available from the Lessons tab, above) and e-mail your work to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com for credit.

May your listening and reading be blessed!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Listen: St Brendan the Navigator

The Celtic saints are also Orthodox saints, and St Brendan is one of these. 

On OCN's Theologically Thinking, Terry Mattingly and Fr. Chris discuss St. Brendan and his significance to the Universal Church.

Listen to the podcast now.

You can earn 1 credit for listening to this podcast. Simply listen, fill out the Podcast worksheet (available from the Lessons tab, above) and e-mail it back to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com for credit.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Read: The Heart of the Scriptures

Frederica Mathewes-Green (Source: PBS)
Dear Students and Friends,

Frederica Mathewes-Green has written a wonderful essay on what is meant by our "heart." What is it? What part does it play in the Christian life? How does Orthodox Christianity define the heart?

Read her essay now.

You can receive one credit for reading this essay. Simply read, fill out the Article Worksheet (under the Lessons tab, above), and e-mail your work to else10(at)gmail(dot)com for credit.

May your learning be blessed!