Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lenten Reading

It would have been much better if I had posted this around the first day of Lent, but, as they say, "better late that never!"

In addition to fasting, praying, and giving alms, the Church also asks us to increase the amount of spiritual reading. In light of this, I thought I would share with you what I have been reading.

1. The Bible

Duh! This is a book that we Orthodox Christians should ALWAYS be reading! But what specific parts should we focus on during Lent? Fr. Thomas Hopko recommends that we try to read the five books of the Bible that the Church focuses on during this penitential season: Genesis, Proverbs, Isaiah, Mark, and Hebrews.
Well, I must confess that while I have read all of Mark, I have only read parts of Genesis, Proverbs, and Hebrews, and none of Isaiah. I hope to at least finish Genesis and Proverbs (in the new Orthodox Study Bible, which is very enjoyable to read). Isaiah and the rest of Hebrews may have to wait.

2. Great Lent, by Fr. Alexander Schmemann

A classic and one of the most popular books ever written on Lent in English, which I have wanted to read for years, but have somehow never done until this year. This is an outstanding introduction to Lent, with a host of biblical, patristic, and liturgical quotations that explain the various facets of Lent. I cannot recommend it highly enough. And at only about 150 or so pages (I may be off a little), it can easily be read within a single Lenten season.

3. The Lenten Spring, by Fr. Thomas Hopko

I am actually reading through this a little each day with my wife and oldest daughter Audrey as our daily (well, okay, ALMOST daily) devotional. This is another must read. I read straight through it last year, and it helped me greatly in my Lenten struggle (as it is this year also).

4. On the Eight Vices, by St. John Cassian (from The Philokalia).

One of the definitive works on the subject from the definitive work on Orthodox spirituality. A classic. Need I say more? I teach a class once a month on the Philokalia, and this short work is our topic of discussion for March and April.

5. Defeating Sin, by Fr. Joseph Huneycutt

Defeating sin -- now THAT is something I have been trying to figure out how to do for a long time! Now I will at last know how! Anything by Fr. Huneycutt is a good read, and I know that I will enjoy this book (I'm only about halfway through it now) and learn a great deal.

BTW, Fr. Huneycutt is writing the forward to my upcoming book.

Check out his excellent podcasts on Lent at Ancient Faith Radio.

6. First Fruits of Prayer: A Forty-Day Journey through the Canon of St. Andrew by Frederica Mathewes-Green

All right, I must be honest. This book is really on my "I hope I get to it" list. In reality, I probably will not this year, at least not before Pascha. Jennifer and Audrey and I read through this outstanding book last year during our family devotional time, and all of us loved it. Even if I don't get around to reading the book, I WILL be at the service at which the entire canon is chanted. So, I'll content myself to listen to it this year.

So, what have YOU been reading for Lent? Let me hear from you!

All images have been borrowed from Light and Life Publishing, an excellent place to buy any or all of these books.


Clint said...

Orthodox Study Bible.

I do have Fr. Schmemann's book, but haven't read most of it. I actually had it with me when I came to Houston, but obviously didn't read too much.

I have two of the four Philokalia books, but not the one you posted.

I also read a book on Byzantium. Not exactly Lenten fare, but perhaps loosely (oh, so very loosely) related.

thats about it...

Eddie said...

While it isn't a "lenten" book, I've been reading Let Us Attend by Fr. Farley. It is a book about the history and background of the Divine Liturgy. I just started it but so far I really like it.