15 Orthodox eBooks to read while in self-quarantine
While you’re staying at home to contain the effects of COVID-19 you can either surf the web for every last bit of news on C19 – descending deeper and deeper into a pit of anxiety and worry.
Refreshing the counter over and over to catch every new case in your region. Checking Instagram then Facebook then back to Instagram for any new finding.
OR you can use this hardship to get closer to Christ. Work on your spiritual health. Spend the extra time you have on prayer. Focus on your lent.
A good time to read
I’ve compiled a series of Orthodox eBooks you can download and read in the upcoming few weeks. I’ve recommended eBooks so you don’t have to wait for them to be shipped.
Some are easier to read than others. I ordered them from graphic novels and image-heavy books to fiction to modern books and then Orthodox classics (and it happens to start with my own books – pure coincidence I promise! :O). I’ve also included the Amazon description to give you an idea of what the book’s about.
There’s something in there for everyone!
Images > words
An Orthodox graphic novel on Christ’s descent to Hades!
“Anastasis: The Harrowing of Hades” is a full-colour Christian graphic novel that explores what happened to the Old Testament souls in hades, the emotional build-up to the fateful crucifixion and the consequences of Christ’s enigmatic descent into hell. You will find this book packed with Biblical references, writings from the Church fathers (Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Ephrem the Syrian and more!), and gripping storytelling. The hand-drawn illustrations pay homage to ancient Christian iconography and the resurrection narrative.
An Orthodox graphic novel on the life of Saint John the Short.
“A Forest in the Desert” is a graphic novel that tells the story of John the Short, a humble disciple turned monastic father.Saint John the Short is a 4th century Christian who, inspired by the great desert fathers Macarius and Antony, travelled to the desert of Scetis to become a monk. When the harsh teacher Amoi accepted him as a disciple, John learned humility, faith and obedience and grew from an unwitting novice to the father of many monks and a great saint of his generation. “A Forest in the desert” brings the world of early Christian fathers to life in expressive pen and ink. The fluid lines read close to ancient icons with the familiarity of a graphic novel. Christians seeking truth in desert wisdom will find a virtuous example in the ever-relevant life of Saint John the short.
Words > images
A dystopian Orthodox novel. What’s not to love!?
Forget your old name. Forget your parents. These are the things Euphrosyne’s grandparents and counselor tell her. But if Orthodox Christianity is a lie, why did the icon so dramatically save her life? And what can she do to get the icon back? In a post-Christian America, where going to church, praying, or owning holy things means death, a twelve-year-old girl searches for the truth. Finding it may cost her everything.
It’s like Lord of the Rings mixed-in with Church Fathers & Russian folklore.
Voran, a young warrior of Vasyllia, lives in a dying world. As blight ravages the countryside and darkness covers the sun, he can’t avoid hearing the rumors of an ancient spirit that devours souls. He feels powerless to fight the oncoming devastation until a mythical creature entrusts him with a long-forgotten song. Legend has it that such a song can heal the masses, overthrow kingdoms, and raise humans to divine beings…
Armed with the power of the song, Voran must hunt down the dark spirit before it achieves its goal of immortality. His quest takes him through doorways to other worlds and puts him on a collision course with seductive nymphs and riddling giants. With each step of the journey, the strength of the villainous spirit grows, as does Voran’s fear that the only way to save his world… is to let it be destroyed.
Putting Joy into Practice by Phoebe Farag Mikhail
A practical easy-read on how to experience true joy. At a time where everyone is experiencing hardship and sadness – this book is a must-read!
Putting Joy into Practice: Seven Ways to Lift Your Spirit from the Early Church is an invitation to a life of joy. Phoebe Farag Mikhail explains what joy is and how to experience it through seven spiritual practices that cultivate our inner lives and connect us to our communities. These seven practices, which include giving thanks, hospitality, praise, and more, take us on a journey that leads to joy through the giving and receiving of sacrificial love. She describes her own experiences and struggles with joy and offers practical ways to implement these practices to increase joy in our own lives and in the lives of all those around us.
Time and Despondency: Regaining the Present in Faith and Life by Nicole Roccas
This book should be a mandatory read for present-day Orthodox Christians! Sent me on a wonderful journey exploring the writings of Evagrius.
Idleness. Apathy. Restlessness. Procrastination. These are symptoms, of what early Christian theologians called despondency (acedia), a spiritual sickness rooted in a lack of care or effort. A condition as old as the ancients, despondency thrives in today’s culture of leisure, anxiety, and digital distraction. Time and Despondency is a penetrating synthesis of ancient theology, spiritual memoir, and self-help practicality. It envisions despondency as the extension of a broken relationship with the experience of time. Driven by the fear of death and the anxiety of living, despondency drives us to abandon the present moment, forsaking the only temporal realm in which we have true fellowship with Christ. The remedies offered by time-honored Christian thinkers for this predicament constitute not only an antidote to despondency but also stepping stones back to the present moment. In regaining the sacredness of time, we re-encounter the Resurrection of Christ in the dark and restless moments of our lives.
The life of Father Arseny shows Orthodoxy in practice.
The stories of Father Arseny and his work in the Soviet prison camps have captured the minds and hearts of readers all over the world. In this second volume readers will find additional narratives about Father Arseny newly translated from the most recent Russian edition.
A Silent Patriarch by Rev. Dr Daniel Fanous
An incredible book detailing the life of Saint Kyrillos. A bit on the longer side but worth every word!
A Silent Patriarch: Kyrillos VI (1902–1971) is the first scholarly biography of the desert hermit who became a most unlikely patriarch. Until now the details of his life have remained hidden. As patriarch, Kyrillos inherited a bleeding church, one confronted by political Islamism, an indifferent Muslim president, and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood. Silent in the face of persecution, mockery, and criticism, Kyrillos stood at the head of a nearly impossible spiritual revolution. But by the time he reposed, everything had changed.
In this lucid biography, Daniel Fanous traces Kyrillos’ life from childhood, drawing upon hundreds of letters and sources never before seen, detailing Kyrillos’ unusual method of ecclesial reform, which speaks enduringly to the uncertainties of the present age. This is the story of Kyrillos VI, a most unlikely patriarch, a silent urban recluse.
Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way by Fr. Matthew the Poor
A profound book on Orthodox prayer. Deeply rooted in the writings of the Church Fathers.
Saints who experience the power of prayer say it gives them wings to fly: wings of elation from being in proximity with Jesus Christ and relief from the burden of a sinful conscience. Once engulfed in the grace of the Holy Spirit, the person in prayer experiences death to sin, resurrection in the Spirit, and mystical ascension to the Father. The visible touches the Invisible, and joy wells up in the human heart.
Scratch what I said above. THIS should be mandatory for every Orthodox Christian to read.
This book is a general account of the doctrine, worship and life of Orthodox Christians by the author of the now classic The Orthodox Church. It raises the basic issues of theology: God is hidden yet revealed; the problem with evil; the nature of salvation; the meaning of faith; prayer; death and what lies beyond. In so doing, it helps to fill the need for modern Orthodox catechism. Yet this book is not a mere manual, a dry-as-dust repository of information. Throughout the book, Bishop Kallistos Ware shows the meaning of Orthodox doctrine for the life of the individual Christian. Doctrinal issues are seen not as abstract propositions for theological debate but as affecting the whole of life. A wealth of texts drawn from theologians and spiritual writers of all ages accompanies Bishop Kallistos’ presentation. They, too, reveal Orthodoxy not just as a system of beliefs, practices and customs but indeed as the Way.
The life of Abba Antony. Life-changing. Not my favourite translation but it’s one of a few in eBook form!
The classic, fascinating and almost fabulous life of St. Antony of the Desert, the Father of Monasticism, both East and West, all as recorded by St. Athanasius, his friend. Filled with miracles, wisdom and revelations. St. Antony revealed that there are swarms of devils everywhere, but that they are powerless to harm us when we use the Holy Name of Jesus and sacramentals to ward them off. Will touch the heart of every reader!
I’ll keep plugging this book until they republish it as “The really well-known and appreciated desert mothers”
An introduction to the sayings, lives, stories, and spirituality of women in the post-biblical, early Christian movement.
On the Incarnation by Saint Athanasius
Perspective & life changing. Take your time with this one, take it slow!
On the Incarnation , a new translation and introduction by John Behr, Preface by C.S. Lewis
By any standard, this is a classic of Christian theology. Composed by St. Athanasius in the fourth century, it expounds with simplicity the theological vision defended at the councils of Nicaea and Constantinople: that the Son of God himself became “fully human, so that we might become god.” Its influence on all Christian theology thereafter, East and West, ensures its place as one of the few “must read” books for all who want to know more about the Christian faith.
A great intro to a great saint. Has commentary in-between his sayings which helps when first starting out to read the fathers.
Isaac the Syrian, also called Isaac of Nineveh, lived and wrote during “the golden age of Syriac Christian literature” in the seventh century. Cut off by language and politics from the Churches of the Roman Empire and branded “Nestorian,” the Church of the East produced in isolation a rich theological literature which is only now becoming known to outsiders. Yet over the centuries and in all parts of Christendom, Isaac’s works have been read and recommended as unquestionably orthodox.
50 profound homilies by Saint Macarius. A book you’ll return to often.
The name of Macarius (= “Blessed”) was a common one among the Christians of the fourth and following centuries, especially in Egypt. Two men of the name stand out as twin giants of the ascetic life of that age and country. They are distinguished from each other as Macarius the Egyptian and Macarius the Alexandrian. An “Egyptian” means one who belonged to the ancient race of Egypt — a “Copt”; an Alexandrian means one who belonged to the Greek colony planted in that city. The two were friends and nearly contemporaries, though the Alexandrian was somewhat the younger. The Egyptian Macarius was born about the year 300.