25 June 2021

Rejoice! Book 5 of The Philokalia has Finally Been Published in the English Language!

Philokalia I, II, III, IVPhilokalia V

The Philokalia is a collection of texts written between the fourth and the fifteenth centuries by spiritual Elders and Saints of Orthodox Christianity First published as a compiled manuscript in Greek in 1782, The Philokalia has exercised an influence in the recent history of the Orthodox Church far greater than that of any book apart from the Bible. It is concerned with themes of universal importance: how one may develop their inner powers and awake from illusion; how they may overcome fragmentation and achieve spiritual wholeness; how they may attain the life of contemplative stillness and union with God.

For many years, Orthodox Christians have been awaiting the English translation of the 5th and final book of the Philokalia, the first 4 books having long been translated by Bp. Kallistos Ware and Mother Maria. However, the fifth book of the Philokalia has been translated and published by Anna Skoubourdis and Saint George Monastery in 2021, in both hardcover and paperback, just like the other four volumes published in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Here are the links to all five volumes that are now available: 

This is great news for English-speaking Orthodox Christians everywhere! Glory be to God! 

24 June 2021

The Teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church has Finally Been Completed!

Back in 1986, The Reverend Father Michael Azkoul, Ph.D. wrote The Teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church: Volume 1: God, Creation, Old Israel, Christ in 236 pages, which was edited by Hieromonk Gregory of Dormition Skete with the blessing of His Grace, ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) Bishop Alypy of Cleveland. Save for its attacks on Blessed Augustine of Hippo, the author of The City of God, it is a good book that does a really good job of explaining the typology of the Old Testament revealed in the New Testament's Holy Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation, and I hoped to see Volume 2: The Church and Volume 3: Mystagogy of The Teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church in the future. Volume 1's five chapters are: 

  1. Introduction
  2. God: The Holy Trinity
  3. The Creation
  4. The Economy of Old Israel
  5. Jesus the Christ
The second and third books were not to be, as Father Michael Azkoul broke away from the ROCOR and joined the HOCNA (Holy Orthodox Church of North America) while then-Archimandrite Gregory (Gregory Abu Assaly) later departed ROCOR for one of the GOCs (Genuine Greek Orthodox Churches). Interestingly, Father Michael Azkoul in now in one of the GOCs that Archimandrite Gregory was formerly a member of, and now-Archbishop Gregory is the head of his own GOCA (Genuine Orthodox Church of America).

In 2020, Archbishop Gregory completed the volumes of The Teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church in 602 pages, making it into one book, making a re-edited, reformatted, and revised Part 1 while also adding a Part 2, the later of which consisted of what would have been Volume 2 and Volume 3 in Father Michael Azkoul's original plan. Volume 1 has now been renamed Part 1: God, Creation, and the Economy of Salvation. The chapters to Part 2: The Church are: 
  1. The One Church
  2. Christ and the Church: The Heterodox
  3. The Church of God
  4. Mystagogy I: Holy Baptism
  5. Mystagogy II: The Eucharist
  6. Mystagogy III: The Other Mysteries
  7. The All-Holy and Ever-Virgin Mary, The Mother of God, with All the Saints
  8. The End of the Age
  9. Augustine of Hippo
While the unfortunate attacks on Blessed Augustine of Hippo (commemorated 15 June in the Orthodox Church) remain, besides this, this is a very good book that is a good introduction to Orthodoxy, even better than the far more-errant introductory two volume set, The Orthodox Church and The Orthodox Way, by the then-layman Timothy Ware, now Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware). 

23 June 2021

Which Orthodox Christian Prayer Book do you use?

Not too long ago, there were not many choices for an English Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians. But today there are 4 strong prayer books for Orthodox Christians who prefer to use English to pray. There are actually many Orthodox Christian prayer books today, but I can only strongly recommend these four: 

I.) The (ROCOR - Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) Holy Trinity Monastery "Jordanville" Prayer Book in hardcover for $18.69, first published in English in 1960 and revised constantly, is considered the Russian style gold standard. When verses from Holy Scripture are used, they previously used the King James Version and now use A Psalter for Prayer which is a new blend of the KJV and the Cloverdale Edition of the Psalter. It has evening prayers before sleep rather than the service of the compline.

II.) The (OCA - Orthodox Church in America) Saint Tikhon Monastery Press' Orthodox Christian Prayers in imitation leather for $24.95, published in 2019 as spiritual successor to many other lesser-quality OCA prayer books of the past. This newest version improves everything from all the previous OCA versions of the prayer book, and had excellent formatting that means most prayers start at the the beginning of a new page, rather than somewhere in the middle or bottom of the page. It means they made interesting decisions on font sizes to make this work, but in the end, a job well done. When verses from Holy Scriptures are used, they use A Psalter for Prayer. rather than the Psalter of the Orthodox Study Bible like some previous OCA prayer books had. It has both the compline and prayers before sleep as it is made for Orthodox Christians of any jurisdiction. It also has 3 bookmarks sewn into the spine!

III.) The (HOCNA - Holy Orthodox Church in North America) Holy Transfiguration Monastery's Prayer Book for Orthodox Christians in hardcover for $24.99 first published in 1987, it is very similar to the ROCOR Prayer Book, but made for members of Greek parishes. When verses from Holy Scripture are used, they use The Psalter: According to the Seventy. It has the compline rather than evening prayers before sleep. 

IV.) The (GOA - Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America) Newrome Press' Orthodox Christian Prayer Book in hardcover for $29.99, published in 2016 is the first GOA prayer book to be considered as a good enough book to replace the earlier HTM prayer book. Newrome Press makes beautiful books inside and out. When verses from Holy Scripture are used, they use the Eastern / Greek Orthodox Bible. It has the compline rather than evening prayers before sleep. It also has 2 bookmarks sewn into the spine!

Which one do you prefer, and why? I've used each of them at one time or another and all have their strengths and weaknesses, but they all do the same thing, help you to pray to God. 

19 June 2021

The Orthodox Psalter has been Updated and Expanded! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

As you know, back in 2011 I highly recommended "The Orthodox Psalter" by Holy Apostles Convent in this blog post/article and continued to point out the superiority of the translation in another blog post/article the same year. I still stand by that recommendation, but recently I found that there is a new 3rd edition of this Psalterion published in 2017.

There are 9 more pages of patristics than the 1st edition, which includes explanations of verses and psalms from the Church Fathers from both the east and the west. The Orthodox Psalter includes both the Septuagint and KJV numbering systems, 20 Kathismas, 9 Biblical Odes, 160 pages of Patristic Commentary, 6 Tables for Usage, 2 General Listings, The Verses and Couplet to the Prophet David, and the excellent introduction, "In Praise of the Psalms" by Saint Basil the Great. All in a full-sized 6.25" x 9.25" sturdy Deep Purple Smyth-sewn case-bound book, with gold stamping, and a burgundy double-sided grosgrain ribbon marker. As an author I appreciate that it is printed on high-opacity acid-free 80-pound cream coloured pages, in a very easy-to-read 14-point bold typeface for the Psalms, and a readable and clear 10-point typeface for the Commentary. 

Aesthetically, the "Deep Purple" that I think of more as an indigo, looks great with the green "The Holy Prophets", the dark navy "The Orthodox New Testament Volume One", and the dark burgundy "The Orthodox New Testament Volume Two". These books are must-haves for any Orthodox Christian. 

The Orthodox Psalter and the other mentioned books are available at Amazon or can be ordered directly from the Convent.

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