Let Us Begin the Fast With Joy!

The Church welcomes the Lenten spring with a spirit of exultation...
with the enthusiasm of a child...
The tone of the church services is one of brightness and light.

~ Fr Thomas Hopko (from The Lenten Spring)

~ ~ ~

We offer once again
our Great Lent - Resources for the Journey page for the year 2016. Featuring outstanding articles by trustworthy Orthodox guides,  book titles for further reading, and numerous aids for your Lenten effort, this unique web page strives to offer a wide range of edifying content with the hope of enabling us to "press on towards the goal of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ" (PHIL 3:14).

Use the CONTENTS on the right hand side to quickly navigate to areas of interest, or simply scroll down to browse at your leisure.

February 21, 2016
Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

Meditations from Fr. Steven

Our beloved pastor, Fr. Steven Kostoff, provides weekly email meditations throughout the year, and even more frequently during Great Lent. We invite and urge you to view and print these meditations from Fr. Steven's Orthodox Christian Meditations blog.

Also, be sure to visit our Great Lent page of our main parish website, which has been greatly expanded for 2013 with extensive Lenten Resources, including many articles in printable PDF format free for download.

The Bright Sadness of Great Lent

(from Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann)

When a man leaves on a journey, he must know where he is going.

Thus with Lent. Above all, Lent is a spiritual journey and its destination is Easter, "the Feast of Feasts." It is the preparation for the "fulfillment of Pascha, the true Revelation." We must begin, therefore, by trying to understand this connection between Lent and Easter, for it reveals something very essential, very crucial about our Christian faith and life.

Is it necessary to explain that Easter is much more than one of the feasts, more than a yearly commemoration of a past event? Anyone who has, be it only once, taken part in that night which is "brighter than the day," who has tasted of that unique joy, knows it. On Easter we celebrate Christ's Resurrection as something that happened and still happens to us. For each one of us received the gift of that new life and the power to accept it and live by it. It is a gift which radically alters our attitude toward everything in this world, including death. It makes it possible for us to joyfully affirm: "Death is no more!" Oh, death is still there, to be sure, and we still face it and someday it will come and take us. But it is our whole faith that by His own death Christ changed the very nature of death, made it a passage - a "passover," a "Pascha" - into the Kingdom of God, transforming the tragedy of tragedies into the ultimate victory.

Such is that faith of the Church, affirmed and made evident by her countless Saints. Is it not our daily experience, however, that this faith is very seldom ours, that all the time we lose and betray the "new life" which we received as a gift, and that in fact we live as if Christ did not rise from the dead, as if that unique event had no meaning whatsoever for us? We simply forget all this - so busy are we, so immersed in our daily preoccupations - and because we forget, we fail. And through this forgetfulness, failure, and sin, our life becomes "old" again - petty, dark, and ultimately meaningless - a meaningless journey toward a meaningless end. We may from time to time acknowledge and confess our various "sins," yet we cease to refer our life to that new life which Christ revealed and gave to us. Indeed, we live as if He never came. This is the only real sin, the sin of all sins, the bottomless sadness and tragedy of our nominal Christianity.

If we realize this, then we may understand what Easter is and why it needs and presupposes Lent. For we may then understand that the liturgical traditions of the Church, all its cycles and services, exist, first of all, in order to help us recover the vision and the taste of that new life which we so easily lose and betray, so that we may repent and return to it. And yet the "old" life, that of sin and pettiness, is not easily overcome and changed. The Gospel expects and requires from man an effort of which, in his present state, he is virtually incapable. This is where Great Lent comes in. This is the help extended to us by the Church, the school of repentance which alone will make it possible to receive Easter not as mere permission to eat, to drink, and to relax, but indeed as the end of the "old" in us, as our entrance into the "new." For each year Lent and Easter are, once again, the rediscovery and the recovery by us of what we were made through our own baptismal death and resurrection.

A journey, a pilgrimage! Yet, as we begin it, as we make the first step into the "bright sadness" of Lent, we see - far, far away - the destination. It is the joy of Easter, it is the entrance into the glory of the Kingdom. And it is this vision, the foretaste of Easter, that makes Lent's sadness bright and our lenten effort a "spiritual spring." The night may be dark and long, but all along the way a mysterious and radiant dawn seems to shine on the horizon.

"Do not deprive us of our expectation, O Lover of man!"

Open To Me the Doors of Repentance . . .

This wonderfully done video featuring the St Vladimir Seminary Choir evokes the joy-producing contrition which Great Lent should inspire in us . . .

Way of the Ascetics

Way of the Ascetics is an introduction to the narrow way that leads to life. It is a simple yet profound exposition of the spiritual life taught by the Orthodox Church for two thousand years. It is a portal to the vast spiritual experience of the desert fathers, and an insight into the spiritual lives of the saints. Reminiscent of the Ladder of St. John Climacus, Way of the Ascetics compels us to again begin the struggle to climb away from the world to the Kingdom of Heaven.

We offer here the first chapter of this little classic. Order online here.

Also available as a free eBook in epub, mobi and pdf formats here.

May it be blessed . . .

Way of the Ascetics
By Tito Colliander


IF you wish to save your soul and win eternal life, arise from your lethargy, make the sign of the Cross and say:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Faith comes not through pondering but through action. Not words and speculation but experience teaches us what God is. To let in fresh air we have to open a window; to get tanned we must go out into the sunshine. Achieving faith is no different; we never reach a goal by just sitting in comfort and waiting, say the holy Fathers. Let the Prodigal Son be our example. He arose and came (Luke 15:20).

However weighed down and entangled in earthly fetters you may be, it can never be too late. Not without reason is it written that Abraham was seventy-five when he set forth, and the labourer who comes in the eleventh hour gets the same wages as the one who comes in the first.

Nor can it be too early. A forest fire cannot be put out too soon; would you see your soul ravaged and charred?

In baptism you received the command to wage the invisible warfare against the enemies of your soul; take it up now. Long enough have you dallied; sunk in indifference and laziness you have let much valuable time go to waste. Therefore you must begin again from the beginning: for you have let the purity you received in baptism be sullied in dire fashion.

Arise, then; but do so at once, without delay. Do not defer your purpose till "tonight" or "tomorrow" or "later, when I have finished what I have to do just now." The interval may be fatal.

No, this moment, the instant you make your resolution, you will show by your action that you have taken leave of your old self and have now begun a new life, with a new destination and a new way of living. Arise, therefore, without fear and say: Lord, let me begin now. Help me! For what you need above all is God's help. . Hold fast to your purpose and do not look back. We have been given a warning example in Lot's wife, who was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back (Genesis 19:26). You have cast off your old humanity; let the rags lie. Like Abraham, you have heard the voice of the Lord: Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, into a land that I will show thee (Genesis 12:1). Towards that land hereafter you must direct all your attention.

The Writings: Classic Books for the Journey

Here are some classics, both old and new, for your Lenten Journey. You may also wish to go to the Links section below, and browse the outstanding Orthodox Online Stores for these and other edifying titles.

NEW FOR 2013 - The Beginnings of a Life of Prayer - The beginnings of prayer arise from the longing of the heart to know God, to rest in Him Who showed His love upon the precious Cross, to abide in the fullness of communion with Him. In the present book—a primer on prayer—Archimandrite Irenei first prepares the ground by helping us to count the cost (Luke 14:28) of our lives as Christians, to take stock of the spiritual struggle we must undertake if we are to ascend toward God in prayer. Then, based on a sober appraisal of our lowly condition and of the worldly and demonic influences that assail us, he helps us to adorn our inward beings as temples of prayer.


The Art of Prayer - compiled by Igumen Chariton of Valaam Monastery, and featuring the writings of St Theophan the Recluse. A classic collection of writings by a recent saint of the Orthodox Church. Highly Recommended.

The Lenten Triodion - Bp. Kallistos Ware and Mother Mary - SVS Press - The edifying introduction by Bishop Kallistos Ware is worth the price of admission, but the ability to keep pace with the Great Fast through selective reading and praying of the weekly canons, stichera and special hymns is a transforming experience.

The Passion of Christ - Veselin Kesich - SVS Press - This brief book is a masterpiece, and a powerful addition to one's Lenten library.

The Lenten Spring - Fr. Thomas Hopko - SVS Press - A very readable and enjoyable collection of reflections, taking one through the entire course of the Fast. Can be used as a daily Lenten Devotional.

Great Lent - Fr. Alexander Schmemann - SVS Press - The classic modern work on Great Lent, which goes through the cycle of services, and the course of the Fast, in a heartfelt and expansive manner, enabling the reader to "make Lent real" in their own life and home.

The Way of the Ascetics - Tito Colliander - SVS Press - This slim volume, a modern classic, distills in easy to read chapters the wisdom of the desert fathers on prayer, warring against the passions, cutting off one's own will, fasting, in short, the ascetical and spiritual discipline of the Church throughout every age. A must for every Orthodox, and a challenging, firm and unerring guide through the journey of Great Lent. Available through Hermitage of the Holy Cross.

The Royal Way of the Cross - St John of Tobolsk - Monastery Press - A Russian Classic! First published in 1709 in a mix of Slavonic and Ukrainian. A Russian translation was published by Fr. Clement Sederholm, disciple of Elder Ambrose of Optina (and biographer of many of the Optina elders) in the late 19th century. Now available in English! MORE TITLES from MONASTERY PRESS

The Ladder of Divine Ascent - St John Climacus - Holy Transfiguration Monastery - St. John Climacus exposes the sinful passions in clear detail, showing us also the way to overcome them. Useful both for monks and laymen, the Ladder has stood for centuries as an essential handbook for the Christian struggler.

The Arena - St Inganius Brianchaninov - Holy Cross Hermitage - Direct and practical spiritual and life counsels from a modern saint (19th century) who confronted many of the same modernist, "enlightened" pressures which dog us to this day. Originally written for monastics, this is an intense call to a more ascetical life. A spiritual classic.

How To Live A Holy Life - Met. Gregory Postnikov - Holy Cross Hermitage - Similar to St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Metropolitan Gregory was a modern (19th century) writer, who sketches for the reader how to conduct oneself through the course of a single day. "You should pass every subsequent day just as you did the first one." Small, pocket size, only 150 pages, and ideal for a pocket devotional.

The Book of Akathists - Holy Trinity Monastery - Holy Cross Hermitage - A beautiful edition by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville NY, featuring Akathist hymns to our Savior, the Mother of God, and numerous saints.

Living Without Hypocrisy - Sayings of the Optina Elders - Holy Cross Hermitage, hardbound, convenient size. These brief and powerful instructions on the spiritual life are comparable to the sayings of the Desert Fathers, whose spirit and way of life the Optina Elders truly shared. The book provides an excellent source of spiritual nourishment for Orthodox Christians of all walks of life and all levels of spiritual experience.

Salt of the Earth - by St Paul Florensky - St Herman of Alaska Press - A very warm, reverent and intimate look into the life, home, teachings and gifts of one of the last Russian elders prior to the Bolshevik revolution, written by the brilliant Orthodox priest, scholar, scientist, Pavel Florensky, who became a confessor and martyr for the Faith under the communists. A very edifying and uplifting read, with an introduction on the life of St Paul Florensky, which is very inspiring in its own right. Highly recommended.

The Optina Elders Series - St Herman of Alaska Press - The classic series on these outstanding elders of Holy Russia.

Athonite Fathers and Athonite Matters - Elder Paisios of Mt Athos - St Herman of Alaska Press - Like a modern Evergetinos or Gerontikon of stories of godly, wise and foolish and careless monks of the Holy Mountain. For Orthodox Christians of every mode of life - not just for monastics! Balances delightful, uplifting, edifying and instructive lessons, with tales that warn against pride, despair and spiritual delusion. You will read this again and again. MORE TITLES FROM ST HERMAN OF ALASKA PRESS

St Isaac of Syria Skete - An outstanding selection of Orthodox books by numerous publishers, featuring many categories:
  • Lives of Holy People
  • Prayer
  • Icons
  • Monasticism
  • Bibles and Church Services
  • Orthodox Life
  • Children and Family Life
  • Children's Books
  • Commentaries
  • Contemporary Issues
  • Patristic Anthologies
  • Theology and Doctrine

A 'Word' from Elder Paisios the Athonite

The following three YouTube videos encapsulate the teaching of Holy Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos (+1994). In Greek, with English translation, and photos of the Elder's life as background images. Prepare to be blessed . . .


More Titles for Great Lent

On our parish website, our webservant has posted a link to the classic essay by Archbishop Kallistos Ware, entitled, "The Meaning of the Great Fast: The True Nature of Fasting." This is an incredibly rich essay (summary here), and should be on the 'must read" list of all serious Orthodox Christians. Printing it out and then reading it slowly will most probably be a much more effective way of approaching this essay, and absorbing and retaining its many insights. Here is a remarkable piece of theological/spiritual writing - with many practical points - that should not be neglected. If you are searching for some good lenten reading - here it is!

Other excellent books include:

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives ~ The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica; St Herman Press, Platina CA, 2010, 212 pages, softcover, $15. A real treasure of spiritual counsels from the recently reposed (2002) Serbian elder.

Spiritual Psalter of St Ephraim the Syrian, compiled by St Theophan the Recluse; 256 pages, hardcover, $35. A collection of hymns, compiled from the writings of St. Ephraim by St. Theophan the Recluse. Printed in red & black on high quality paper, gilded edges, ribbon, gold-stamped flexible case-binding. A favorite prayer book for generations of monks and laymen.


Bright Faith ~ Fr Artemy Vladimirov Talks with Western Orthodox Christians; 191 pages, softcover, photographs throughout, $14. Warmly engaging, pastoral talks by one of Russia’s most beloved contemporary priests. Father Artemy Vladimirov, protopriest of All Saints’ Church in Moscow, shares a wealth of Orthodox Christian spirituality and common sense in a decade of interviews and articles from Road to Emmaus Journal. Subjects range from practical guidance for new converts to a dialogue on the spirituality of teenagers, reflections on Russian history and literature, and a dynamic exchange on spiritual fatherhood. Riveting discussions that originally took place with British and American Orthodox converts and pilgrims over Russian teas in the All Saints’ orchard.

FIRST FRUITS OF PRAYER: A Forty-Day Journey Through the Canon of St. Andrew by Frederica Mathewes-Green. Join the author on a guided retreat - ideal for the Lenten Season - through the classic Great Canon of St. Andrew, a wise, ancient Orthodox text - still chanted during Lent - that will enrich your experience of spirituality and prayer. A poetic hymn written in the 8th century, this magnificent work weaves together Old and New Testament Scriptures with prayers of hope and repentance that will transform your life.
Order #FIRS115 $14.95

GREAT WEEK AND PASCHA IN THE GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH (An excellent study of the order and theological meaning of the various services of Holy Week, including all of the traditional practices that characterize the week. Extremely inspiring).
Order #GREA300 $12.00

The links, order numbers and prices are taken from the Light-n-Life Publishing Co. (952-925-3888). They are very prompt with deliveries. Great Lent just began, so there is plenty of time to supplement our prayer, fasting and almsgiving with some good insightful reading!

Fr. Steven

Ancient Faith Radio presents

This collection draws from both past and current AFR podcast series and will be updated throughout Great Lent. In addition to the Journeys Through Great Lent section, be sure your Lenten journey includes a walk on The Path with Fr. Tom Soroka. His daily (M-F) podcast draws on Old Testament readings and the Gospels, both from the Orthodox Study Bible, and is supplemented by rich commentary from the Church Fathers.

Lord I have cried unto Thee: Lenten Recordings

Whether at home, driving to and from work, or on long trips (or now on our iPods & iPads!), Orthodox recordings can truly help us to "purify our souls and cleanse our minds," and can be indispensable and cherished companions for our Lenten Journey. From acknowledged classics, to lesser known collections of monastic chants or choral masterpieces, to inspiring and challenging lectures, you will find here a selection of edifying recordings. MP3 downloads and Podcasts are in a separate section below. Don't forget to go to the Online Stores section to browse the online resellers for dozens more titles.

NEW FOR 2013! Archangel Voices: LAMENTATIONS - Orthodox Chants of Holy Week. This sublime recording is one of the best available in English. Features a wide range of chant traditions, Russian and Byzantine, many of which will be familiar to Christ the Savior-Holy Spirit faithful.

Chant Traditions of the Orthodox Church (English) - St Vladimir Seminary Choirs.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts and Other Lenten Hymns - St Vladimir Seminar Male Choir - The classic Lenten recording featuring the familiar Russian-style Lenten tones, sung in English.

The Lord's Prayer - Fr. Thomas Hopko - SVS Press (spoken word). 12 CDs in three volumes. This original CD series by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, deftly examines The Lord's Prayer given by Jesus to his disciples within the broader context of Christian prayer.

The Word of the Cross - Fr Thomas Hopko - SVS Press (spoken word). This two disc lecture set by Fr Hopko focuses on Christ crucified - the center of the Christian faith. Paradoxically, the most profound Word of the Cross is the silence of God in his ultimate act and unsurpassable revelation. As Fr Hopko states, "Beyond the Cross there is nothing more God can do. Beyond the Cross there is nothing more God can say. Beyond the Cross there is nothing more to be revealed." Coming soon to the Christ the Savior Library.

More recordings from St Vladimir Seminary Press (SVS)

Morning and Evening Prayers (English) - Holy Cross Hermitage. Here, pronounced clearly and calmly, are the basic daily prayers said by all Orthodox Christians of the Russian Tradition. Text taken from the Jordanville Prayerbook.

Preparation for Holy Communion (English) - Holy Cross Hermitage. The Canons to the Savior, the Mother of God, and the Guardian Angel - The Akathist to the Mother of God - the Psalms, Canon, and Prayers for Holy Communion. These are the prayers that Russian Orthodox Christians say in order to spiritually prepare themselves to participate in the awesome Mystery of the Divine Liturgy. Text taken from the Jordanville Prayerbook.

More recordings from the Hermitage of the Holy Cross.

Living The Orthodox Worldview, Righteous Hieromonk Seraphim Rose - St Herman of Alaska Press - CD, 71 minutes.

The first in a series of digitally-mastered audio recordings of lectures and talks given by Fr. Seraphim, this was the final pastoral talk of Fr. Seraphim’s life—the fruit of his spiritual growth as an Orthodox Christian and his matured outlook as an Orthodox pastor. It contains many of the themes that he emphasized during the final years of his life: the need to have one’s Orthodox Faith enter into and transform the whole of one’s life, not just certain compartments of it; the need to cultivate a loving, merciful, and forgiving heart, to be simple and innocent in one’s spiritual life; the need to have a conscious Orthodox Faith, an Orthodox worldview, so that one will not be easily influenced by worldly ways of think­ing and behaving. One could call this talk a "short course in how to survive as an Orthodox Christian in these perilous times." Highly recommended.

When You Fast: Lenten Cookbooks

From Fr. Steven:
I am asked often about the "rules of fasting" for Great Lent. Here is a good summary, taken from the book, When You Fast - Recipes for Lenten Seasons, by Catherine Mandell:
Great Lent and Holy Week
This is the strictest fast of the church year. Fasting persons abstain from all meat products, oil, eggs, fish, wine, and alcoholic beverages. On certain fast days (Annunciation and Palm Sunday) fish, wine, and oil are allowed. On weekends, and indicated weekdays, with the exception of Holy Saturday, wine and oil are allowed. On Holy Saturday, only wine is allowed. - When You Fast, p. 244
As a family or individually, everyone needs to set some realistic goals based upon the above. Whatever you may settle on, you need to feel that you are fasting. You want to avoid the two extremes of taking on far more than your present capacity for fasting allows for, or choosing a token minimalism that makes your fasting essentially fruitless. As a working principle: if you do not feel tested, then you are not fasting. I would be glad to speak with anyone of the topic of fasting and how to integrate it into your over-all lenten effort.

When You Fast: Recipes for Lenten Seasons; SVS Press- Catherine Mandell; SVS Press. 200 recipes provide a variety of easy, nourishing, and appealing meals. Sprinkled among the delicious recipes are sayings from the Mothers and Fathers of the early Church regarding how the body and soul are affected by eating habits-pithy illuminations to accompany the appetizing recipes.

The Lenten Collection: A Cookbook; Light and Life Publishing - A rich collection of over 450 recipes that include strict-fast recipes as well as choices for fasting days which allow fish and dairy products. Includes appetizers, beverages, salads, dressings, breads, pizzas, pitas, seafood entrees, vegetables and grains, desserts, culinary info, a table of fasting days, cooking tips, index etc. Prepared by the Metropolis of Boston. 172 pages, Spiral Bound.

Lenten Cookbook for Orthodox Christians; Light and Life Publishing - Revised edition, with new alphabetical index. Highly regarded: reviewers give this book 4 out of 5 stars. Softbound.

In God's Image: Icons for Great Lent and Holy Week

The Lenten Spring gives us some of the most stirring and edifying holy images in all the Church year. We will try to provide a thorough survey in this section of classic and well known icons, as well as lesser known masterpieces, to give you some ideas for your home, your dorm room, or for gifts to celebrate, encourage and edify others. Once again, don't forget to browse the online stores in the Links section.

St Isaac of Syria Skete - The Paschal Series - A rich and varied selection of icons from the Raising of Lazarus and The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, through the events of Holy Week (including our Lord's agony in Gethsemane, the Betrayal by Judas, Pilate washing his hands, and more), to the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Many of these are from frescoes from churches on Mt Athos and in other Orthodox centers.

St Isaac of Syria Skete - Festal Icons - Includes the classic Cretan School icon series from the Athonite monasteries of Stavronikita and Dionysiou.

Uncut Mountain - Festal Icons - Includes different Paschal series and festal sets.

Holy Transfiguration Monastery - Boston MA - An outstanding resource for traditional mounted icons in both the Greek and Russian styles, plus publishers of many excellent Orthodox texts, including the new Pocket Psalter.

Holy Cross Hermitage - Russian Masterwork Icon Series - INTRODUCING...
a new line of exquisitely crafted Russian icons. The Russian Masterwork Icon Series represents a breakthrough in icon-crafting, utilizing the latest silk-screen technology. When people see these icons for the first time, their typical reaction is "What beautiful hand-painted icons!"

For the Building Up: Orthodox Online Stores

In addition to our communal life together as the Church, the very Body of Christ, we are blessed to have more resources than ever before for the building up of our most holy faith. Here you can find not only the popular Orthodox texts of our day, but also more obscure, yet essential spiritual classics by the saints of every age, lives of holy fathers and mothers, spiritual counsels, icons and items for home worship.

Primarily Books:

St Vladimir Seminary Press - One of the great Orthodox theological publishing houses, with a wide selection across many categories.

St Tikhon Seminary Press - Another excellent OCA publisher with a vast online store, rooted and grounded in the life of St Tikhon of Zadonsk Monastery, South Canaan PA.

St Herman of Alaska Press - Best known perhaps for their outstanding series of the lives and counsels of saints, initially Russian (the Optina Elders Series, The Northern Thebaid, The Little Russian Philokalia), but in recent decades new titles on Romanian, Georgian, and Western European; always very edifying titles appealing to readers of all ages. St Herman's is also the publisher of books by and about the Holy Righteous Hieromonk Seraphim Rose, and is the US distributor for books by and about Elder Paisios of Mt Athos.

Conciliar Press - The vibrant, evangelical publishing ministry of the Antiochian Archdiocese; outstanding and edifying contemporary Orthodox authors, who speak with a freshness that appeals to converts and cradle Orthodox alike, with icons, gifts, and more. Publishers of the New Orthodox Study Bible.

Light and Life - Another excellent supplier, primarily Greek Orthodox writers, icons, gifts.

Monastery Press - A small, but significant publisher in the Russian tradition. Their selection also includes Paschal greeting cards, prayer ropes, iconography, and more.

Holy Apostles Convent - Outstanding publishers of fine, hardbound editions of the Orthodox New Testament, Lives of Saints and the Theotokos, and more.

Icons, Books, Devotional Supplies:

Hermitage of the Holy Cross - One of the finest online stores, featuring books, icons, recordings, handmade soaps, and much, much more.

Uncut Mountain Supply - Another fine site, with rare icons of twentieth century saints and holy ones not yet officially glorified by the Church, plus excellent and rare books and gifts.

St Gregory Palamas Monastery - Excellent selection of rare icons and books, candles, incense, plus prayer ropes and devotional items imported from Mt Athos.

Archangels Books - Large, comprehensive source for Orthodox items, including books, icons, music, jewelry, devotional items, and much more.

St Isaac of Syria Skete - Known for their excellent selection of wood-mounted icons, plus books, items for home worship, more.

St Anthony Greek Orthodox Monastery - Unique titles from the monastery's press, plus books from Greece and around the world, as well as incense, prayer ropes, and more. This is the Mother Monastery of Elder Ephraim's monastic movement in North America, which he transplanted to our soil from Mount Athos. Elder Ephraim is one of the foremost disciples of Elder Joseph the Hesychast of Mount Athos.

Istok Church Supplies - Russian Importers - Don't let the name deter you, they have an amazing selection of icons of saints suitable for the home, as well as many devotional items.

Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery - A wondrous selection of books, note cards and more that edify by their holy simplicity. Their abridged selection of service books (the Hours, Services to the Theotokos, Daily Prayers) are essential to those trying to remember God throughout the work day.

Redeeming the Time: Online Resources and Media

St Paul admonishes us to redeem the time, for the days are evil. And what is one of the biggest time-wasters in our "advanced" culture but the Internet? Here you are guaranteed to find safe surfing, a calm and edifying haven of online materials about Great Lent and Orthodox Spirituality. So, may the Lord bless your search, your journey, and remember to get up every so often and take a walk outside to pray and get some fresh air!

Online Resources: Articles, homilies, recordings and more, to edify, encourage, teach and build up the faithful.
  • Monachos.net - the definitive online resource for Orthodox theology, patristics, liturgics, and more; volumes of material, well organized and easy to navigate, and very readable (well suited for a general audience) - excellent site recently given a complete refresh.
  • St Gregory Palamas Monastery (Hayesville OH) - An outstanding collection of homilies and articles - from one of America's most vibrant monastic communities.
  • St Tikhon Monastery Bookstore - Homilies and Retreats on CD - A wide selection of talks and sermons from St Anthony the Great Monastery (in Arizona), Blessed Fr. Seraphim Rose, Fr. Thomas Hopko, Abbot Jonah of St John of San Francisco Monastery, and many more.

Online Media: Streaming Audio, Free MP3 Downloads, Podcasts, and Subscription-based Internet TV, these online broadcasts present our faith in a new and vibrant way, and can transform one's downtime into something that is truly "Re-Creation!" This is just a sampling... One could spend untold hours alone getting acquainted with merely the dozens of offerings from Ancient Faith Radio.

  • Ancient Faith Radio - music, homilies, interviews, talk shows - our Orthodox Faith in radio format as you've never experienced it before! Very relevant, contemporary and still timeless and edifying.
  • The Path - A free podcast - The Daily Scripture readings, with commentary by Fr. Thomas Soroka. At approximately 10 minutes per segment, this is a convenient program to fit into one's daily schedule, and keep one nourished on the Word of God.
  • Orthodox Christian Network - The online broadcast ministry of SCOBA - producers of The Ark, and Come Receive the Light
  • Likeness Ministries - Free downloads of sermons by Fr. Thomas Soroka, pastor of St Nicholas Orthodox Church (OCA) in McKees Rocks PA.

Peace Be With You: Orthodox Monasteries

Orthodox monastic communities are the heart and pulse of the Church. They are the guardians and sentinels of the fullness of the Church's worship. They become the ceaseless prayer of the Church. By making a pilgrimage to a holy monastery, our (spiritual) youth can be renewed like the eagle's, and we can bring back with us, into our daily lives, that peace which passes all understanding, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Women's Monastic Communities:

Men's Monastic Communities:

From the Little Mountain is a wonderful, feature-length video produced by Hermitage of the Holy Cross, which gently reveals the four seasons at the monastery, while quietly depicting through hymns and homilies the seasons of life in traditional Orthodox monasticism. An outstanding film which will leave an indelible imprint on your soul.

Preparing for Holy Week

Posted March 12, 2010

Dear Parish Faithful,

Service booklets for all of the Holy Week services are available if you would like to purchase a set. These books do not only allow you to follow the unfolding of the service, but also to prepare by studying the texts of the services ahead of time. All of the books are now being sold by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. There should still be plenty of time to order them if you are interested. Each booklet is a convenient 4" x 6" with a paper cover. The available booklets are the following:

Feast of Palms - The Service of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday - $5.00
The Bridegroom Services of Holy Week - $6.00
Holy Friday Matins - $7.00
Vespers of Holy Friday - $4.00
Matins of Holy Saturday - $7.00
Great and Holy Saturday - Vespers and Liturgy of St. Basil the Great - $6.00
Paschal Service - $5.00
Vespers of Pascha - $3.00

This link will take you directly to SVS Press' selection of service books, which has all the above. Some other service books are included as well, but all the Holy Week/Pascha titles can be found there.

Fr. Steven