Monday, September 28, 2015

Icons Declare "I Believe"

Dear Students and Friends,

Watch this amazing short film describing the evolution of the icons presented in the Greek Orthodox Church of Our Savior in Rye, New York. You will be inspired and heartened by the faith shown by this parish, and the blessings of icons we all share as Orthodox Christians.

  • Visit the movie website here.
  • Watch the movie on YouTube.
  • Learn more about iconography and the saints on OCN.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Introducing Theoria

Theoria is an Orthodox YouTube channel, or as they style themselves, "an up-and-coming channel to spread Eastern Orthodoxy through informational, theological, and humorous videos."

Hosted by Orthodox writer Frederica Mathewes-Green, some of the very neat and interesting videos include:

  • What is the Jesus Prayer?
  • What do you mean, 'Pray to the Saints'?
  • The Great Schism and Reformation
  • And more!

These videos are great learning tools and also great witnessing tools--share them with non-Orthodox friends when they ask you what your faith is about.

May your watching be blessed! Go to Theoria now!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Video Bible Study on Acts

The Apostle Luke
Dear Students and Friends,

The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is now offering videos of a Bible study on the book of Acts, "The Church of the Holy Apostles," live and straight from Transfiguration of Our Savior Orthodox Church in Florence, SC.

Listen and learn in the comfort of your home, with your Bible at your side.

Check out the videos here!

  • Read the Book of Acts online here.
  • Orthodoxwiki about Acts.
  • Learn about the Apostle Luke (St. Luke) here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Learning about St Gregory Palamas

St Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica
Dear Students and Friends,

All this summer, Father Andrew of St Luke Church has been preaching on the homilies of St Gregory. This saint's life is so inspiring--and he was a great Orthodox influence--so I thought it would be good to supply some resources here for you to learn more about this great monk and theologian.

Biography of the Saint


Writings Online

  • St Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality. Order here.
  • The Triads (In Defense of the Holy Hesychasts). Order here.
  • St Gregory Palamas: The Homilies. Order here.

May your learning be blessed!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Resources for Prayer

Dear Students and Friends,

Prayer has been much on my mind lately. Sometimes it is hard to pray and sometimes we need others to pray for us when the words will not come. So I've collected some resources for you that may help you think about prayer in different ways and hopefully encourage you to not give up on your prayer life.

When we are too busy for prayer ... listen now.
St. John of Apameia in A Prayerful Life ... listen now.

Prayer, Part One ... watch now.
Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer ... watch now .

Beginning to Pray, by Anthony Bloom. Order here.
Courage to Pray, by Anthony Bloom and Georgres LeFebvre. Order here.
Prayer Book of the Early Christians. Order here.

When All Else Fails
The Way of the Pilgrim. Order here.
The Jesus Prayer ... read now.
The Jesus Prayer, a presentation by Frederica Mathewes-Green ... watch now.

May your prayers be especially blessed this week!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Books to Read Now and Later

Dear Students and Friends,

There are many newer books out there. Orthodox Christianity has some amazing ancient and contemporary writers! Here's a list of books you can read now (how about some summer reading?) and later as they are published this year.

by Stephen Muse
Amazon says: "If as Dostoevsky says, "Beauty will save the world," it is because beauty arises only in the presence of love. Without love, there is nothing beautiful. There is nothing valuable. There is nothing meaningful. Meaning arises and transformation occurs through the call and response of personal encounter when we discover a third presence Who offers us being-in-relationship that is greater than the determinism and inertia of biological life. The stories and reflections in this volume are offered in celebration of the One who, in surprising ways and unexpected circumstances, becomes the precious and pure gift of our being bread so that we may live the mystery of becoming bread for others. I wish this for all who read this book." Find it here, read it now!

by Raphael El-Baramousy
Wondering what monasticism is really about? Amazon says: "Monastic life declares to the whole world the possibility of living a life of purity and righteousness on this earth despite all its worldly temptations. It declares that Christ our Lord can still live in people's hearts, people of this earth, not of another planet. It declares that behind the pains of Good Friday are resurrection celebrations and that behind the dark tomb is the light of eternal life. This booklet layout the principles of the monastic life as has been handed down by the great monastic fathers of the desert." Find it here, read it now!

by Andrew Louth
Coming this Fall, so put this on your shopping list. Amazon says: "Andrew Louth, one of the most respected authorities on Orthodoxy, introduces us to twenty key thinkers from the last two centuries. He begins with the Philokalia, the influential Orthodox collection published in 1782 which marked so many subsequent writers. The colorful characters, poets and thinkers who populate this book range from Romania, Serbia, Greece, England, France and also include exiles from Communist Russia. Louth offers historical and biographical sketches that help us understand the thought and impact of these men and women. Only some of them belong to the ranks of professional theologians. Many were neither priests nor bishops, but influential laymen. The book concludes with an illuminating chapter on Metropolitan Kallistos and the theological vision of the Philokalia." Pre-order it here.

by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
Coming this Fall, here is an updated version of the classic book that explains everything about Orthodoxy in readable, beautiful prose. Amazon says: "Since its first publication fifty 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 revised and updated edition he explains the Orthodox views on such widely ranging matters as Ecumenical Councils, Sacraments, Free Will, Purgatory, the Papacy and the relation between the different Orthodox Churches." Pre-order it here.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Read-Along Finishing Up

Our current Read-Along in "Epistle to the Hebrews: High Priest in Heaven", authored by Father Lawrence Farley, is finishing up soon. St Luke Church will be discussing the final chapter (13) this month.

Catch up and view all the lessons on the Read-Along tab at the top of this website. Chapter 13's lesson has just been added.

On the go? You can read Hebrews on your phone or tablet here.

May your learning be blessed!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Before the Bible - podcast

Source: OCN
Dear Students and Friends,

Yes, Virginia, Christianity existed before the Bible!

Learn about Christianity before the Bible from a new book, The Making of the New Testament Church. For a preview, listen to an interview with author  Rev. Theodore G. Stylianopoulos here.

This podcast is on Orthodox Christian Network's Come Receive the Light podcast channel.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Stay tuned in: An Orthodox Newscast

Dear Students and Friends,

It's been out there for awhile, but I just discovered an online newscast that focuses on events in the Orthodox Church.

Titled "This Week in Orthodoxy," it features the voice of news commentator Emmy Louvaris. She recounts the week's happenings worldwide.

For example, the May 22 videocast features these stories:
  • May 17th was Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry Awareness Sunday.
  • The 111th annual Pilgrimage to St. Tikhon’s Monastery is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend.
  • China authorizes the ordination of Chinese Orthodox priests on its territory.
  • The First Divine Liturgy in 93 Years was Held in a Historic Greek Orthodox Church in Izmir, Turkey.
If you like to keep up with the news and stay current with what's happening in the Orthodox Church, you can watch current and past shows here. Check it out; learn things!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Met. Kallistos on the Liturgy


Dear Students and Friends,

In this short video (part 1 of a series), Metropolitan Kallistos Ware speaks on several mysteries that occur during the Divine Liturgy. In his melodious and calm voice, he tells us about what happens during the Little and Great Entrances, the meaning for us, and the meaning for heaven.

Note: This video features mono sound (not stereo). You will only hear it on one headphone, if you use headphones. Increase your volume to hear more effectively. Alternatively, watch the video directly on YouTube.

Watch and listen:

In addition, Met. Kallistos will be at Saints Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church, 1401 Wagner Road, Glenview, IL on June 23, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. He will speak on the topic, Divine Compassion: does God suffer when we suffer? Learn more about the event on this Facebook page.

May your learning be blessed!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Blessed Holy Week! Hymn of St Cassia

The Bridegroom Icon

Dear Students and Friends,

Here we are in our last part of the journey to Pascha.

Holy Week is full of solemn church services meant to prepare our hearts. For a good description of each of the services, visit "Holy Week: An Explanation," a webpage created by the Antiochian Orthodox Church.

And during the Bridegroom services, note the singing of the hymn of St Cassia:

 The words are:

The woman had fallen into many sins, O Lord,
yet when she perceived Thy divinity,
she joined the ranks of the myrrh-bearing women.
In tears she brought Thee myrrh before Thy burial.
She cried, “Woe is me!
For I live in the night of licentiousness,
shrouded in the dark and moonless love of sin.
But accept the fountain of my tears,
O Thou who didst gather the waters of the sea into clouds.
Bow down Thine ear to the sighing of my heart,
O Thou who didst bow the heavens in Thine ineffable condescension.
Once Eve heard Thy footsteps in paradise in the cool of the day,
and in fear she ran and hid herself.
But now I will tenderly embrace those pure feet
and wipe them with the hair of my head.
Who can measure the multitude of my sins,
or the depth of Thy judgements, O Savior of my soul,
Do not despise Thy servant in Thine immeasurable mercy.

This week, may we all experience this tenderness toward our Savior! Blessed Holy Week to all!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pascha: Come and See

Dear Students and Friends,

Pascha is a wonderful occasion for inviting friends and those curious about Orthodoxy to "come and see" what our Faith is about. Read this article on Paschal Evangelism on the Orthodox Christian Network (OCN). 

To also help you introduce others to Orthodoxy, Frederica Mathewes-Green has written a new book called Welcome to the Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity. Those of you who have read Frederica's other books know what a clear, concise and inviting writer she is, and her love of the church infuses all her words. So this work will be exciting to read and exciting to share! Use this book for yourself or for gentle, evangelism efforts towards interested friends and acquaintances. If you want an autographed copy, order the book here.

Here's what Amazon says about the book:

There are other introductory books about Orthodoxy, but they are all somewhat academic. This one comprehensively covers the history, theology, and practice without talking over your head. Mathewes-Green takes the original approach of bringing you into a typical church for a series of visits. That is how Christians learned the faith for most of history, by coming into a community and keeping their eyes and ears open. Designed primarily for newcomers to come to understand Orthodoxy and Orthodox Christians, this guide to the faith is also a non-threatening and accessible introduction to people already “in the pews.” Inviting rather than argumentative, Orthodox Christians will be giving this to their friends.

So check out these resources. May your reading and evangelism be blessed!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Memory Eternal: Father Thomas Hopko

Father Thomas Hopko
Dear Students and Friends,

It is with great sadness that I report to you that Father Thomas Hopko, truly one of the contemporary Fathers of the Orthodox Faith, fell asleep in the Lord yesterday, March 18, 2015. He will be sorely missed. May his memory be eternal! May the Lord grant him blessed repose! In Memoriam.

I learned of Fr Hopko when I was on my journey to Orthodoxy, and read several of his books and listened to many of his audio lectures. I was also blessed to hear him speak in person several years ago. He was a great apologist and explainer of the faith. His words worked in my heart to convict me of the Faith. I will be eternally grateful for his teachings. Read his biography here and his vita here.

I encourage you to check out the MANY Fr Hopko resources in print and on the Web. His teachings will encourage and bless you! Here is a selection:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekly 2015 Lenten Reflections

Icon of the Holy Trinity

Dear Students and Friends,

The International Orthodox Christian Charities website is offering weekly Lenten reflections for your consideration.

Find them here.

Go to the IOCC website each day to read the offerings that will consist of personal spiritual reflections written by an IOCC frontliner – one of 100 specially trained Orthodox clergy and laypeople who offer spiritual and emotional care to people following disasters in the United States.

May your Lent be blessed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Reading for Lent

Dear Students and Friends,
Two wonderful books have crossed my desk that I would like to share with you as good Lenten reading. They will bless you as you go through the Fast, which begins next week already!

Season of Repentance: Lenten Homilies of St John of Kronstadt
by Ivan Ilyich Sergiev
Holy Monastery Press

From the website: Each year we begin anew the journey to the radiant feast of Pascha, entering the season of repentance known as Great Lent. The homilies presented in this modest volume, from one of the spiritual giants of the Orthodox Church of Russia, can both encourage and inform us in this struggle of the Fast.

For the first time a selection of St John's Lenten sermons is presented in English translation. They follow the thematic structure of the Lenten season in the Orthodox Church, from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee through to Great and Holy Friday. A sermon for St Thomas Sunday, that follows Holy Pascha, is offered as an Epilogue.

Also available on Amazon.

Psalm 118: A Commentary
by St Theophan the Recluse
Holy Monastery Press

From the website:
This is a book which can be read from beginning to end -- or from any random point -- with equal benefit. Brief notes on the many Church fathers and authorities cited by St. Theophan, not part of the Russian text, are appended.

Read Psalm 118 here.

Spiritual reading, in addition to the reading of Scripture, can help at all times and especially during the season of Lent, when we mindfully turn to thoughts of our Lord. During these difficult world times, with so much suffering, it seems right to intensify our efforts.

May your reading--and Lent--be blessed!

Monday, January 19, 2015

On Prayer

St Seraphim praying

Dear Students and Friends,

Happy New Year!

January is rushing by and by now, resolutions for the year have been made and you are hopefully getting a good start on them.

Daily prayer can be a good resolution to make, but often we are not sure how to pray or even what prayer is.

St Luke Church offers some wonderful essays on prayer that will help you get started.

You can earn 1 credit for each essay you read. Simply read, fill out the Article worksheet (available from the worksheet tab, above) and return it to else10(at)gmail(d0t)com for credit.

Now is a good time to refresh your prayer knowledge and to have your soul refreshed by prayer. Try it! God is waiting to hear from you.