Reading List for Novices & Candidates

This reading list is a long term project, and designed to provide an introduction to the Orthodox Christian monastic tradition and its context in the Orthodox Church. 

The Orthodox Church wrote, edited and published the New Testament. It is the most important book of our Tradition. First, read one of the Gospels (the first four books); then start in on the Epistles of St. Paul. Read it slowly and prayerfully.

The Prayer book teaches us how to pray. Use its Morning and Evening Prayers as a daily prayer rule. This gets you to pray with the Church in the words of the saints.

The rest of the material is a general introduction to Orthodox Christianity. Ask a priest to help guide you through it.

Introduction to Orthodox Christianity

The Holy Scriptures, Orthodox Study Bible

Prayer Book, Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY

The Orthodox Church, Timothy Ware

The Mystery of the Faith, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

God’s Revelation to the Human Heart, Fr. Seraphim Rose

Door to Paradise, published by St. Herman Press

Indication of the Way into the Kingdom of Heaven, St. Innocent of Alaska

The Faith of the Saints, St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The Truth of Our Faith, Volumes 1 & 2, Elder Cleopa

Introduction to Monastic Life

The Arena, St. Ignatius Brianchaninov

Epistles, Elder Paisios

Abba Dorotheus: Practical Teaching on the Christian Life

Wisdom from Mount Athos, Sayings of St. Silouan

Saint Silouan the Athonite, Saint Sophrony

The Vision of the Church

Orthodox Faith & Life in Christ, St. Justin Popovich

Orthodox Christianity, 5 vols., Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev

(Volume 2; Volume 3)

Lives of the Saints

The Prologue of Ohrid

St. Dimitri of Rostov’s Lives of the Saints

The Synaxarion: The Lives of the Saints of the Orthodox Church, published by Simonos Petra

The Optina Elders

Saint Nektarios: The Saint of our Century, Sotos Chrondropoulos

Contemporary Ascetics of Mt. Athos; Volumes One & Two

An Extraordinary Peace: St. Seraphim of Sarov, Archimandrite Lazarus Moore

The Northern Thebaid

Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit

Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, Hieromonk Damascene

Nihilism, Fr. Seraphim Rose

Prayer & Spiritual Counsel

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives, Elder Thaddeus

My Life in Christ, St. John of Kronstadt

Wounded by Love, Elder Porphyrios

Spiritual Counsels, Elder Paisios

Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain, Priestmonk Christodoulos

Way of the Ascetics, Tito Colliander

Discourses and Sayings, Abba Dorotheos

Sts. Barsanuphius & John, Guidance toward the Spiritual Life

The Art of Prayer, compiled by Igumen Chariton

Letters to Beginners, Abbess Thaisia

Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Optina Elders

Reflections of a Humble Heart

A Spiritual Psalter by St. Ephraim the Syrian, arranged by St. Theophan the Recluse

The Spiritual Meadow, John Moschos

Paradise of the Holy Fathers (read online; Volume 1Volume 2)

Spiritual Life and How to Be Attuned to It, St. Theophan the Recluse

The Way of a Pilgrim & The Pilgrim Continues his Way

The Little Russian Philokalia, Volume 1: St. Seraphim, Spiritual Instructions

The Little Russian Philokalia, Volume 2: Abbot Nazarius of Valaam, Counsels

The Little Russian Philokalia, Volume 3: St. Herman of Alaska: Treasury of Spirituality

The Little Russian Philokalia, vol 4: St. Paisius Velichkovsky: Field Flowers

The Little Russian Philokalia, vol 5: Elder Theodore of Sanaxar: Sayings