Friday, March 21, 2008

Two Months Later

During the first week of Great Lent, the Great Canon of Repentance (Saint Andrew of Crete) was read in the parish:
The Great Canon of St Andrew is read each year as part of the ascetic labour of the Great Fast (Lent). Divided into four portions, these are read during the services of Great Compline on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings of the First Week ('Pure/Clean Week') of the Fast.
This seemed to be a very fitting way to begin the Lenten season.

Last Saturday, I was received into the catechumenate at the parish I attend. A rendering of the Service of the Catechumens can be found here.

Last Sunday was the Sunday of Orthodoxy. There was a pan-Orthodox Vespers at the Romanian parish this year. This was a great occasion to participate in a service involving Orthodox clergy and laity from all jurisdictions. A wonderful meal was provided afterwards.

God willing, I will be received into Orthodoxy on the 5th Saturday of Holy Lent (April 12th)[Updated].

Some new additions to my library:


Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works - Hieromonk Damascene

From Eighth Day Books:
Father Seraphim was the secret hero of thousands in Russia and Eastern Europe during the Communist era. His commitment to the ancient Christian faith and his skill in communicating that faith made him a source of hope to all who read his works or observed his life. This Book chronicles Father Seraphim’s early life and explains his conversion to Orthodoxy in terms of his painful search for truth in the confused culture of California in the 1960’s. At the end of his earthly life, those who knew him best believed him to truly be a man of integrity -- that is, one whose whole being had been ’’integrated’’ by deep love for Christ. For those interested in Father Seraphim specifically, or twentieth-century Orthodoxy generally, this is a must-read -- a beautiful book that awakens courage and hope and joy in all who struggle to love Christ.
This was one of the more interesting biographies I've read. Insofar as one can know another from a book, I found a good deal in common between myself and Fr. Seraphim. In particular, I admire how he handled the trying circumstances of his times; weathering the various difficulties which beset American Orthodoxy.

Becoming Orthodox - Peter Gillquist

From the rear cover:
This is the story of a handful of courageous men and their congregations who risked stable occupations, security, and the approval of life-long friends to be obedient to God's call.

It is also the story of every believer who is searching for the Church. Where Christ is Lord. Where holiness, human responsibility, and the Sovereignty of God are preached. Where fellowship is more than a covered-dish supper in the church basement. And where fads and fashion take a back seat to apostolic worship and doctrine.
This book provides an interesting, anecdotal account of a group of Protestant pastors and congregations who converted to Orthodoxy about two decades ago.

The Disputation With Pyrrhus of our Father Among the Saints Maximus the Confessor - Joseph Farrell

From the introduction:
The Disputation with Pyrrhus, like all other works of St. Maximus the Confessor, is centered around the mystery of the Incarnation and enhominization of the only and eternally begotten Son and Word of the Father...

At the center of St. Maximus' tehological and christological universe is the doctrine of Recapitulation. It is this doctrine which forms the basis of all that the New Testament and the Fathers have to say in connection with the Incarnation. While the term "recapitulation" itself appears only twice in the New Testament, the concept itself occurs repeatedly; one has only to recognize its principles of operation order to know when it is being applied. These may be categorized as follows: 1) preeminence 2) repetition and recontextualization, 3) reversal, and 4) fulfillment.
This is a heavily footnoted translation of the disputation, from the Greek, by Joseph Farrell. This book lends a lot of valuable insight into the monothelite position held by Pyrrhus, and the dyothelite position held by St. Maximus. Monothelitism was officially condemned at the sixth ecumenical council, and this book provides some of the arguments involved in this important controversy which is often overlooked.

A Beginner's Guide to Prayer - Michael Keiser

From Light and Life:
Drawing from nearly 2000 years of Orthodox spiritual wisdom, this book offers the average person a deeper relationship with God through the habit of prayer.
This book provided a casual overview of prayer from a contemporary Orthodox perspective. For lighter-weight introductory writings on prayer, I would also recommend the following:

The Ladder of Divine Ascent - Saint John Climacus

St. John Climacus, sixth-century Abbot of Sinai, compared the spiritual life to a ladder of thirty steps, and explained in detail the challenges presented by each of these steps. This spiritual classic has brought inspiration and edification to every generation since that time, and has been treasured by both monastics and laymen. This edition includes a full-color frontispiece of an icon of the Spiritual Ladder, from Mount Sinai.

From Eighth Day Books:
Read chapter 18 of this manual, ’’On Insensitivity,’’ and experience honest terror; or chapter 28, ’’On Prayer,’’ and be reminded how limited and solitary our conception of prayer is, when we come across the following: ’’Prayer is by nature a dialog and a union of man with God. Its effect is to hold the world together (emphasis ours)... prayer is the mother and daughter of tears...’’ The work of the seventh-century abbot of St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mt. Sinai, The Ladder is probably the single most important text in the spiritual literature of Eastern Christendom. Read in monastic refectories and churches every year during Lent, The Ladder is a text of utmost seriousness and earnestness. Psychological subterfuge and self-delusion are surgically stripped away, leaving the reader two choices: run away or repent.

This is a fascinating book which resides within the Philokalia class of writings. A longer description of the work can be found here.

I'm presently in the midst of a few other books and articles which I will hopefully post about in the next while.