Monday, April 28, 2014

New Books for Spring

Dear Students and Friends,

Christ is Risen!

In this Bright time after Pascha, let us begin anew our spiritual journeys, refreshed by the promise of the Resurrection. Begin living eternity now! Here are some books that can help. Both are new to the School of the 70.

The Forgotten Faith: Ancient Insights for Contemporary Christians from Eastern Christianity
by Philip LeMasters
Here's what Amazon says: "There's more to Eastern Christianity than ethnic food bazaars, enclaves of immigrants, and clergy with beards. The mystical theology, spiritual disciplines, and rich liturgical worship of the Orthodox Church provide sustenance for anyone seeking resources for growth in the Christian life. Ancient teachings and practices persist in Eastern Christianity that hold together much of what Catholics and Protestants have separated. Believers of all stripes increasingly resonate with Orthodoxy's healthy synthesis of prayer, doctrine, liturgy, asceticism, and call to holiness in all areas of life. This ancient faith speaks with refreshing clarity to contemporary Christians who want to learn from a living tradition that is too little known in Western culture. This volume presents profound insights that will enrich, challenge, and inspire readers of all backgrounds. It invites everyone to encounter a spiritual tradition that is ancient, contemporary, and fascinatingly different."

Sounds like a great book for newcomers to the faith, those curious about Orthodoxy, or even established Orthodox who want to connect more with tradition.

And you can also listen to an interview with Philip LeMasters about his book here!

Help! I'm Bored in Church: Entering Fully into the Divine Liturgy
By David Smith
Here's what Amazon says: "Do you ever find yourself feeling bored in church? Don't despair you're not alone, and there is hope! Fr. David Smith offers four compelling reasons for going to church regardless of how we feel. He then explores six reasons people sometimes feel bored in church, five ways to think about your priest, four ways you can participate more fully in services, three kinds of waiting, two kinds of prayer, and the one thing truly needful in our relationship with God. This book will help you see church as the best place you could possibly be and the place you most want to be."

Is this you? Don't despair. This book talks about church boredom and gives suggestions for re-energizing your participation in Liturgy. 

Earn Credits!
You can earn two credits each for reading the books, and one credit for listening to the Philip LeMasters interview. For the books, read, then fill out the General Worksheet for Books. For the interview, fill out the Podcast Worksheet. Then email your work to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com for credit. It's easy!

May your Spring reading and listening be especially blessed.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Christ is Risen!

The empty tomb!

Christ is risen from the dead,
Trampling down death by death.
And upon those in the tombs
Bestowing Life!

Christ is Risen!
Indeed, He is Risen!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Activities for Holy Week

Bridegroom icon
Dear Students and Friends,

At last, we have come to this Holy Week. Our thoughts turn toward the Cross and what will happen there to our Beloved Lord. Here are some activities that can help keep us spiritually centered on the most important event in history and what it can mean to us.
You can receive one credit for each activity above. Simply read or listen and fill out the Article or Podcast Worksheet. Send your completed work to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com.

May your learning and your Holy Week be blessed!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Saint Study: St John Climacus (of the Ladder)

Ascend, brothers! Ascend eagerly to the mountain of the Lord!

St John Climacus is best-known for his famous book, "The Ladder of Divine Ascent," a description of how to reach heaven. Aimed at monks, lay Orthodox have found it helpful through the centuries for it describes how to grow in the spiritual life and much is applicable to the ordinary person. We celebrate St John on the fourth Sunday of Lent, as we all strive to reach higher spiritual goals. The divine ascent has been put in icon form, as well.

In the icon, monks and saints are striving to climb the ladder. Note the evil, dark demons trying to drag them off!

Learn more about St John by reading:
Book editions of The Ladder:
St John lauded in hymn:

Troparion — Tone 1

Dweller of the desert and angel in the body, / you were shown to be a wonder-worker, our God-bearing Father John. / You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigil, and prayer: / healing the sick and the souls of those drawn to you by faith. / Glory to Him who gave you strength! / Glory to Him who granted you a crown! / Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!

Kontakion — Tone 4

The Lord truly set you on the heights of abstinence, / to be a guiding star, showing the way to the universe, / O our Father and Teacher John.
Finally, Fr Andrew of St Luke Church offers us a prayer of the week on St John:
Prayer: O Holy Desert Dweller and Angel in the body, You received heavenly gifts through fasting, vigils and prayer. On this day when we commemorate your life and works, we ask you to pray to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that he will guide us up the ladder of divine ascent, reaching the last rung which will open to us the kingdom of heaven. Amen.
Bible Verse: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Matt 5:6.
Bible Question: How is one "filled" through fasting, vigils, and prayer?

Earning credits:
You can receive 1 credit for reading about St John and filling out the Saint worksheet, available from the Lessons tab. Email your completed sheet to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com.
You can receive 1 credit for answering the question to the Prayer of the Week. Email your answer to oandrey(at)aol(d0t)com and else10(at)gmail(d0t)com.
You can earn 3 credits for reading The Ladder of Divine Ascent and filling out the General Worksheet for books, available from the Lessons tab. Email your completed sheet to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com.
May your learning be blessed!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Met. Kallistos Ware: Podcasts for Lent

Dear Students and Friends,

The Orthodox Christian Network has four wonderful podcasts (with transcripts, so you can read AND listen) on important Lenten topics, given by beloved Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, author of The Orthodox Church and many other writings for contemporary Orthodox Christians.

Here are the podcasts:

These will be a blessing to you and give you new food for thought on these basic Orthodox spiritual practices.

You can earn 1 credit for each podcast. Simply listen, fill out the Podcast worksheet (one for each podcast) and return to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com for credit.

May your listening be blessed!