A Beginner's Introduction to the Philokalia
Light & Life Publishing Co. (January 2004)
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An extremely concise entry-level introduction to the ancient mystical spirituality of Eastern Orthodox Christianity, rooted in the Scriptures and the oral teachings and practices passed down from the Holy Apostles of Christ. The Philokalia is a highly-influential anthology of key texts of 30 Holy Fathers and Mothers of the Orthodox Church from the 4th to the 15th centuries, compliled by two saints and published in Athens in 1777. Only four of the five volumes of the massive Greek original have yet been published in English. Many of these texts originated as talks prepared by abbots of monasteries for an audience of seasoned monks who were quite advanced in the ascetic life, though some texts are suitable for beginners. Thus the average modern reader needs a guide like this book to point out the basics, lest the beginner attempt to comprehend and put into practice passages for which he or she is not ready, leading to discouragement and even spiritual harm. This book focuses on twenty basic themes from the Philokalia, such as watchfulness (nepsis), thoughts (logismoi), spiritual discipline (ascesis), the heart, the intellect (nous), inner stillness (hesychia), the passions, deification (theosis), discernment (diakrisis), spiritual synergy, and of course, the Jesus Prayer. The author, Fr. Anthony Coniaris, is a priest of Greek Orthodox Archiocese of America, and the author of many books for lay people. Those desiring (and ready for) a much lengthier and deeper approach to the Philokalia should consult his earlier book, Philokalia: The Bible of Orthodox Spirituality.
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