Spiritual Reading List

There is more to read as a Christian than your bible. For centuries Christians had no bible. How did they learn about Christ, His life, His death and resurrection? How did they learn that He is the Son of God & not some guy that achieved perfection and was made a god before ascending into heaven? These, and many others, are issues the early church faced with no formal scripture to guide them. They had Holy Tradition instead. Eyewitness accounts passed on from generation to generation. We call them the holy fathers or ancient fathers of Orthodoxy. These men wrote about Christ, and corrected the heresies that popped up. These are the men who held the councils that framed, and shaped, ancient Christianity before Protestantism. The Orthodox Church still adheres to the teachings in these writings. We consider them to still be valid, and holy, writings today.

Abbot Seraphim was interviewed about the challenges monastic novices face as they enter a monastery for the first time. It seems to me that we all face the same issues in some degree. Even lay people (not priests, deacon, or monastics) can benefit from his wisdom and the reading list he gives to novices. I have copied the reading list from the monastery’s website. First… his interview.

Spiritual Reading List (from the Holy Cross Monastery website)

The book and articles listed below can serve as introductions to various aspects of the Orthodox Church and Orthodox monasticism in particular, and are particularly suitable for one’s daily spiritual reading.


Introduction to the Orthodox Christian Church

The Orthodox Church, Timothy Ware

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

Father Seraphim Rose: His Life and Works, Hieromonk Damascene

“Introduction to Monasticism”

“Monasticism in the 21st Century”



The Old and New Testaments

Commentary on the Gospels, St. Theophylact

Toward Understanding the Bible: Old Testament, Bishop Alexander (Mileant) (read online…)

Commentary on the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament, Archbishop Averky

Biblical Commentaries of St. John Chrysostom


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 1 & 2

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

The Northern Thebaid

Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit


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 1, Volume 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


The Dogmas of the Church

Orthodox Faith & Life in Christ, St. Justin Popovich

Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Fr. Michael Pomazansky

The First Created Man, St. Symeon the New Theologian

The Future Life According to Orthodox Teaching, Constantine Cavarnos