Recommended Reading-Fr. Michael Shanbour



  from Fr. Michael Shanbour
April 29, 2004

In alphabetical order according to title.

Titles asterisked (*) are recommended for catechetical purposes.  Double asterisks (**) denote writings and Lives of Saints which are particularly inspiring and instructiona 





1.      A Night in the Desert of the Holy Moutain**

Metropolitan Hierotheos

Birth of the Theotokos Monastery

An incredible conversation with a living saint of Mount Athos on the Jesus Prayer and spiritual life.

2.      A Spiritual Psalter

St. Ephraim the Syrian

St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN

Beautiful, inspiring prayers written by St. Ephraim of Syria.

3.      Abbot Nikon: Letters to Spiritual Children**

Nikodemos Orthodox

Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, Richfield Springs, NY

Pearls of spiritual direction from a contempory Russian saint, exiled by the Communists for her faith.

4.      After Death*

Archim. Vasilios Bakogiannis

Tertios Publications

Answers very important questions regarding death and salvation.  Many quotes and stories from the Fathers.

5.      An Englishman in the Court of the Tsar

Christine Benagh

Conciliar Press, Ben Lomond, CA

Very interesting story of the last Russian Tzar and family from the perspective of the children’s tutor.

6.      An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience* (for African-Americans)

Ed., Fr. Paisius Altschul

Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, St. Louis, MO

Lectures delivered at the annual African American Conference in Kansas City.  Very interesting articles, particularly on the orthodox spirituality of the Black American slaves.

7.      Athanasius, The Life of St. Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus**

St. Athanasius the Great.  Trans. by Robert C. Gregg

Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ

Wonderful, powerful, unforgettable portrayal of the Life of St. Anthony the Great, written by St. Athanasius who knew him personally.

8.      Ausburg and Constantinople* (for Lutherans)

George Mastrantonis

Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline, MA

The written theolgical dialog between the disciples of Martin Luther, the father of Protestantism, and the Patriarch of Constantinople Jeremias II.  Good for a theologically informed Lutheran.

9.      Becoming Orthodox, A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith* (Evangelicals)

Fr. Peter E. Gillquist

Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., Brentwood, TN (Conciliar Press)

An excellent introduction to Orthodoxy for Evangelical Protestants.

10.  Beginning to Pray*

Anthony Bloom

Paulist Press, NY

Excellent introduction to Prayer.

11.  Beloved Sufferer, The Life and Mystical Revelations of a Russian Eldress: Schemanun Macaria


St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

Biography on the extraordinary and miraculous, crippled nun Macaria.

12.  Councils for Life, From the Life and Teachings of Father Epiphanios Theodoropoulos

Trans. by Fr. Nicholas Palis

Orthodoxos Kypseli Publications, Thessaloniki

Practical spiritual advice from saintly elder of Mt. Athos.

13.  Dance O Isaiah: Questions and Answers on Some of the Differences Between Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Other Faiths*

Constantine Platis

Constantine Platis

Very Good apologetic for Protestants and Roman Catholics.  Includes excellent introduction about certain Orthodox practices, followed by sections on questions Protestants and RC’s might ask.  Sometimes a bit harshly stated.

14.  Dancing Alone: The Quest for Orthodox Faith in the Age of False Religion* (for Evangelicals)

Frank Schaeffer

Holy Cross Orthodox Press

A critique of Protestant “church” and spirituality based upon Protestant theology, and the resulting effect of secularism.

15.  Depression: A Spiritual Guide

Arch. Spyridon Logothetis

Brotherhood of the Transfiguration of our Savior Jesus Christ Monastery in Nafpaktos, Greece

General advice on an Orthodox approach to understanding and struggling against depression.

16.  Elder Leonid of Optina**

Fr. Clement Sederholm

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

Edifying biography and spiritual teachings of the holy Elder of Optina Monastery in Russia.

17.  Elder Paisios of Mount Athos: Epistles

Elder Paisios

Holy Monastery “Evangelist John the Theologian”, Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece

Refreshing spiritual advice from a contemporary Holy Father.

18.  Elder Porphyrios, Testimonies and Experiences

Klitos Ioannidis

Holy Convent of the Transfiguration of the Savior, Athens

Not terribly well written, but introduces one to the holy, clairvoyant elder Porphyrios, one of the most holy people of modern times.

19.  Exploring the Inner Universe

Archimandrite Roman Braga

HDM Press, Inc.

Spiritual direction from a living saint of Romania and America.

20.  Facing East: A Pilgrim’s Journey into the Mystery of Orthodoxy* (esp. for women)

Fredricka Matthews-Greene


Very good introductory explanation of Orthodox Christianity and the change of perspective required to understand it.  Especially good for women.

21.  Father Arseny, Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father**

Trans. by Vera Bouteneff

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY

Written by his spiritual children, a biography of the life of a contemporary saint living in prison camps under Stalin.

22.  For the Life of the World* (On the Divine Liturgy)

Fr. Alexander Schmemman

SVS (St. Vladimir’s Seminary) Press

Incredible explanation of the Orthdoox approach and understanding of Eurcharistic worship and life.  For more advanced readers.

23.  From Earth to Heaven: The Apostolic Adventures of St. Innocent of Alaska**

New Valaam Monastery, Alaska

St. Herman Press

Outstanding, inspirational, easy-to-read, biography of St. Innocent of Alaska.

24.  Genesis, Creation and Early Man, The Orthodox Christian Vision*

Fr. Seraphim Rose

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

Following the Church Fathers, the book interprets the creation of man and the world in light of the theory of Evolution.  The best book written on this topic.

25.  Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russian, New Martyr of the Communist Yoke**

Lubov Millar

Nikodemus Orthodox Publication Society, Richfield Springs, New York

Excellent biography of a contemporary Saint and Martyr and convert to Orthodoxy.

26.  Hermitess Photini, The

Archimandrite Joachim Spetsieris

St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Florence, AZ

The story of a contemporary female ascetic and hermit.  Inspirational especially for women.

27.  Holy Fire, The: The Story of the Early Centuries of the Christian Church in the Near East

Robert Payne

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY

Although written by a non-Orthodox novelist and includes the biographies of a couple non-Saints, it truly brings the Saints to life in biographical story form.

28.  Ikon As Scripture, The: A Scriptural and Spiritual Understanding of Orthodox Christian Ikonography* and **

Archbishop Lazar Puhalo

Synaxis Press, (Canadian Orthodox Publishing House), Dewdney, B.C., Canada

The Best book explaining the (scriptural) basis of Iconography and contrasting it with later western religious art.

29.  Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven*

St. Innocent of Alaska

New Sarov Press, Blanco, TX

Wonderful practical presentation of the Christian faith from one of the first Saints canonized in America.

30.  Let the Little Children Come to Me: Stories of Children Martyrs


Saint John Chrysostomos Greek Orthodox Monastery, Pleasant Prairie, WI

A collection of the lives of pre-teen and teenaged Christian martyrs.

31.  Life After Death

Met. of Nafpaktos, Hierotheos (Trans. by Esther Williams)

Birth of the Theotokos Monastery

A comprehensive presentation of the Orthodox Christian teaching regarding death, judgement, immortality, etc. for the advanced reader.

32.  Life of Elder Ambrose, The

Fr. Clement Sederholm

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

Edifying biography and spiritual teachings of the holy Elder of Optina Monastery in Russia

33.  Life of Elder Anthony, The

Fr. Clement Sederholm

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

Edifying biography and spiritual teachings of the holy Elder of Optina Monastery in Russia

34.  Life of the Virgin Mary, The**


Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, CO

Beautifully written and highly informative explantations on the life the Theotokos.

35.  Lives of the Holy Apostles, The


Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, CO

Contains the lives and missionary journeys of the twelve Apostles.

36.  Mere Christianity* (for agnostics or athieistic readers)

C.S. Lewis

Macmillan Publishing (and others)

Excellent apologetic for traditional Christianity and its basic doctrines.

37.  Miracles in the Last Days

Hierodeacon Pangratios (Christley)

New Sarov Press, Blanco, Texas

Of primary importance is the first 64 pages which provide excellent introductions to topics such as Icons and other topics.

38.  Modern Orthodox Saints, St. Cosmas Aitolos

Constantine Cavarnos

Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Belmont, MA

The life of the new marty, St. Cosmas, who sparked a spiritual revolution in Greece under the Turkish Muslim rule.

39.  Modern Orthodox Saints: Saints Raphael, Nicholas and Irene the Newly Revealed**

Constantine Cavarnos

Institute for Byzantine and Modern

Greek Studies, Belmont, MA

An amazing true story of the revelation in the 1950’s of three holy martyrs of Greece from the 14th century.

40.  Monastic Wisom, The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast**


St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery, Florence, AZ

Letters of the saintly Elder Joseph to his spiritual children.  An outpouring of healing grace for those who take the spiritual life seriously.

41.  Mother Gavrilia, The Ascetic of Love**


Eptalofos SA

The moving biography of a contemporary woman saint (died 1992) who ministered on several continents including India.

42.  Of Water and the Spirit*

Fr. Alexander Schmemann

SVS (St. Vladimir’s Seminary) Press

A profound work on the meaning and rite of the Sacraments of Baptism and Chrismation as understood and practiced in the Orthodox Church.

43.  On the Upbringing of Children

Bishop Irenaius of Ekaterinburg and Sibirsk

St. Xenia Skete, Wildwood, California


44.  Orthodox Christian Catechism, A Basic Instructional Guide to the Ancient Christian Faith


Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry

VERY simple introduction to Orthodoxy through brief comments on the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Ten Commandments, Beatitudes, and Scripture/Tradition.

45.  Orthodox Church, Its Faith, Worship and Life, The*

Rev. Antonios Alevisopoulos

Archdiocese of Athens

Excellent comprehensive, but brief Catechism.  Particularly valuable for those prone towards Atheism or for the intellectual seeker.

46.  Orthodox Church, The* and **

Bishop Kallistos Ware

Penguin Books

One of the Best introductions to the Orthodox Church, Her history and faith.

47.  Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, A Concise Exposition*

Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

One of the best attempts to provide a comprehensive “catachesis” of the Orthodox Faith.

48.  Orthodox Faith, The (vol. 1-4) Doctrine, Spirituality, Worship, and History

Father Thomas Hopko

St. Vladimir’s Seminary

A good basic summary of Orthodox Faith with many quotes from Holy Scripture.  (This series is now on-line at the OCA website).

49.  Orthodox Psychotherapy: The Science of the Fathers**

Met. Hierotheos Vlakos

Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, Lavadia, Greece

The best and most comprehensive explanation of the components of spiritual life and warfare according to the Church Fathers for those more advanced in the spiritual life.

50.  Orthodox Spirituality, A Brief Introduction*

Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlakos (of Nafpaktos)

Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, Lavadia, Greece

One of the best books on Orthodox Spirituality today and the best all-around book of Met. Vlakos, but for a more advanced reader (skip the chapter on St. Maximos the Confessor)

51.  Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God, The*

St. John Maximovitch (Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Rose)

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood


52.  Orthodox Way, The* and **

Bishop Kallistos (Timothy) Ware

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY

Excellent and profound introduction to Orthodox doctrine and spirituality

53.  Papa-Dimitri Gagastathis, The Man of God**


Orthodoxos Kypseli Publications, Thessalonki

Very simple and inspiring.  The diary of a modern saint (died 1960’s).  Non-stop action and adventure.

54.  Paternal Counsels, Elder Philotheos Zervakos (Vol 1)

Trans. by Fr. Nicholas Palis

St. John of Kronstadt Press, Liberty, TN

Simple spiritual advice from a contemporary holy father.

55.  Path To Salvation, A Manual of Spiritual Transformation, The * and **

St. Theophan the Recluse

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

A “handbook” for those seeking to live the Orthodox Christian spiritual life.

56.  Philokalia, The, Vol. 1**

Trans. by G.E.H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware

Faber & Faber, London

Sayings of the early Ascetical Fathers for the serious spiritual reader.  ONLY volume one.

57.  Raising Them Right, A Saints Advice on Raising Children*

St. Theophan the Recluse

Conciliar Press, Ben Lomend, CA

Very practical advise on how to nuture a child to love God and the Church from infancy through teenage years.

58.  Return: Repentance and Confession; Return to God and to His Church*

Archimandrite Nktarios Antonopolis

Akritas Publications

An excellent practical explanation of the “how” and “why” of the Sacrament of Confession.

59.  Saints of Englands Golden Age

Vladimir Moss, B.A., Ph.D

Eastern Christian Supply Co., Etna, CA

Lives of the early Saints from Orthodox England (A collection is also available for the Saints of Ireland)

60.  Sayings of the Desert Fathers, The Alphabetical Collection, The* and **

Trans. by Benedicta Ward

Cistercian Publications

Essential, practicle, simple sayings and stories from the 4th & 5th century holy monastic Fathers.

61.  Soul After Death, The*

Fr. Seraphim Rose

St. Herman Press

Best (but sometimes controversial) Book on the soul after death in the Orthodox Tradition

62.  Spiritual Life, and How to Be Attuned To It, The**

St. Theophan the Recluse

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

Correspondence with a young women who was just awakening to the importance of spiritual life.  How to live in the world but not be worldly.

63.  St. Innocent, Apostle to America

Paul D. Garrett

St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY

An excellent historical biography which takes one through the life of St. Innocent and his missionary work in Alaska.

64.  St. Nektarios, A Saint For Our Times**

Sotos Chondropoulos

Holy Cross Orthodox Press

A wonderful biography of a dear Saint of the 20th century.  Written as a “novel”, enjoyable to read.

65.  St. Seraphim of Sarov, A Spiritual Biography**

Archimandrite Lazarus Moore

New Sarov Press, Blanco, TX

A wonderful, inspiring, insightful and complete biography of St. Seraphim.  A must read.

66.  Stories, Sermons, and Prayers of St. Nephon: An Ascetic Bishop**

Trans. by Jeannie E. Gentithes and Arch. Ignatios Apostolopoulos

Light and Life Publishing Company

A wonderful series of stories from the life of St. Nephon, an early 4th century Bishop and Saint.  Inspirational and Instructional on repentance and living a holy life.

67.  Synaxarion Of The Lenten Triodion and Pentecostarion**

Ed. by Fr. David Kidd and Mother Gabriella Ursache

HDM Press

Presents wonderful and detailed explanations of the Sunday Feast/Saints Days and other important days during Great Lent and the Sundays following through Pentecost and All Saints Sunday.

68.  Apostolic Fathers, The*

Ed. by Jack N. Sparks

Light & Life Publishing, Minneapolis, MN

Some of the most ancient Christian documents in existence.  Includes The Didache, the Letters of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp.


69.  Arena, The**

St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Printshop of St. Job of Pchaev, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY

For a serious (advanced) reader looking for spiritual guidance on the life of prayer and ascetism.

70.  Blessed Surgeon: The Life of Saint Luke Archbishop of Simferopol, The**

Archdeacon Vasiliy Marushchak

Divine Ascent Press

An excellent biography of a newly canonized Russian Saint and physician who lived and was persecuted by the Communist regime.

71.  Life of our Holy Father Maximus the Confessor, The

Trans. by Father Christopher Birchall

Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, MA

Wonderful biography of this amazing Church Father.

72.  Thirsting For God in a Land of Shallow Wells*

Matthew Gallatin

Conciliar Press, Ben Lomond, CA

Excellent aplogetic for the Orthodox Church written in a very logical manner and touching upon significant issues such as Solo Scriptura and other hot points for Protestant Christians.

73.  Two Paths* (Catholic only)

Michael Whelton

Regina Orthodox Press

The best book on Orthodoxy vs. Roman Catholicism.  Written by a former Roman Catholic.

74.  Wade In The River: The Story of the African Christian Faith

Father Paisius Altschul

CrossBearers Publishing

History of the Church in Africa from New Testament to present.

75.  Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way, The* and **


New Sarov Press, Blanco, TX

Introduces the reader to the Jesus Prayer through the diary of an anonymous Russian pilgrim.

76.  Way of the Ascetics, The Ancient Tradition of Discipline and Inner Growth**

Tito Colliander

Harper & Row, San Francisco

Simple ascetical advice for the layman living in the world.

77.  Youth of the Apocalypse* (for teens and adults)

Monks John Marler and Andrew Wermuth

St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood

An excellent book for Orthodox teens.  Explains why the emptiness of modern, narcisitic culture can only be filled by Christ and the Church.