St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church
Diocese of Eastern America
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Reading List (from The Orthodox Ethos)

(This list is taken from The Orthodox Ethos and contains a few additions which are indicated with a double-asterisk (**). Nothing was removed. The original list may be found here:

  1. General Information, Historical Background, and Testimonies
  2. Catechisms
  3. Lives of Saints, their writings, the spiritual life, other topics
  4. Asceticism
  5. Before Seminary

The first “General Information, Historical Background, and Testimonies” is for the newcomer or inquirer who wants broad overviews and honestly just basic information.

The second is “Catechisms” for the catechumen who recognizes the relationship with the Church is growing deeper and needs more substance to understand what the Church expects of a catechumen.

The third “Lives of Saints, their writings, the spiritual life, other topics” is also important for inquirers and catechumens but also valuable immediately after the first category of general information no longer satisfies the curiosity of one exploring Holy Orthodoxy. It introduces the Saints in more detail and begins another level of patristic exposure.

The fourth “Asceticism” come after great familiarity with the above books (except the Scriptures obviously) and with a blessing from a spiritual father to read them (to protect against asceticism characterized by deadly pride and delusion). St. Joseph the Hesychast (this list is based on the collection of his letters entitled Monastic Wisdom) was familiar with these writings and have been beloved for centuries by monastics and all Christians who take the spiritual life seriously. They are sure guides in our struggle for salvation and should be read or pray again, and again, and again.

The fifth “Before Seminary” is titled as such but a more fitting title might be “If you are surely prepared for the great struggle at seminary and you have a blessing from your spiritual father to enroll, then these books are essential to read first.” They are indeed essential before the courses, because seminary is based on a academic model while true Christian life is based on prayer. This means seminary becomes a distraction or even a temptation for correct advancement in the spiritual life. Because of this, those who embrace the academic over the ascetical invent whole paradigms at odds with the Holy Fathers which harms students and the Church at large. Not only the mind (phronema) of the Holy Fathers, but a taste of their life (a developed Orthodox ethos) must be the presuppositions for a student entering seminary so his academic studies do not harm him. Some books are repeated in other sections, so one should rightly assume they are significant texts, especially for the seminarian; these are indicated in this section by asterisks (*).


  • The Apostolic Fathers (Light and Life Publishing Company)
  • The Way: An Introduction to the Orthodox Faith (Fr. George Metallinos)
  • The Divine Liturgy: A Commentary in the Light of the Fathers (Hieromonk Gregorios)
  • Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God (St. John of San Francisco)
  • Becoming Orthodox (Fr. Peter Gilquist)
  • Ask Fr. Panayiotis (videos - Trisagion Films)**
  • Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick)
  • My Exodus from Roman Catholicism (Bishop Paul de Ballester)
  • Rock and Sand (Fr. Josiah Trenham)
  • Know the Faith (Fr. Michael Shanbour)
  • Our Orthodox Christian Faith (Athanasios S. Frangopoulos)
  • The History of the Church (Eusebius of Caesarea)
  • The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy (Fr. Alexander Schmemann)
  • The Religion of the Apostles: Orthodox Christianity in the First Century (Fr. Stephen DeYoung)**
  • Orthodox Survival Course (Fr. Seraphim Rose)
  • The Faith: Understanding Orthodox Christianity (Clark Carlton)**
  • Fountian of Immortality - Meditation on the Orthodox Divine Liturgy (Video - ROCOR Eastern American Diocese)**
  • Christology (St. Nektarios of Aegina)
  • Franks, Romans, Feudalism, and Doctrine (Fr. John Romanides)
  • The Papacy (Abbe Guettée)
  • From Tibet to Mount Athos to Elder Paisius (Yanni Kotzampasis)
  • Practical Guide or Orthodoxy and Orthopraxia (Priest Michael)
  • Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith (St. John of Damascus)
  • Synodicon of Orthodoxy
  • Booklets and Articles:
    • A Wonderful Revelation to the World: Conversation of St. Seraphim of Sarov with Nicholas Motovilov
    • Picture of the Modern World (Met. Hierotheos Vlachos)
    • The Life in Christ (Fr. John Romanides)
    • Theosis: The True Purpose of Human Life (Archimandrite George of Grigoriou)
    • Christianity or the Church (St. Hilarion Troitsky)
    • Holy Scripture and the Church (St. Hilarion Troitsky)
    • Tradition in the Church (Fr. Lazarus Moore)
    • Catholicism (Archimandrite George of Grigoriou, Uncut Mountain Press)
    • Jesus Christ: the Universal Person (George I. Mantzardidis)**


  • Catechetical Lectures (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery Press, or SAGOM Press)
  • Baptismal Instructions (St. John Chrysostom, SAGOM Press)
  • The Wisdom of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus (Old Testament)
  • An Indication of the Path into the Kingdom of God (St. Innocent of Alaska)
  • The Truth of Our Faith, Volumes 1 and 2 (Elder Cleopa Ilie, Uncut Mountain Press)
  • Entering the Orthodox Church: (Met. Hierotheos Vlachos)
  • The Precious Pearl (St. John of Damascus)
  • The Orthodox Faith, Worship, and Life (Hieromonk Gregorios)
  • The Longer Catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church (St. Philaret of Moscow) (web version)
  • The Faith of the Saints (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)
  • Orthodox Sacred Catechism (Vernardakis / Cavarnos)
  • The Law of God (Fr. Seraphim Slobodskoy)


  • Scripture Aids, Interpretations, and Context:
    • Explanation of the Holy Gospels (Blessed Theophylact)
    • The New Testament, Volumes 1 and 2 (Holy Apostle’s Convent)
    • Homilies on the Epistles of St. Paul (St. John Chrysostom)
    • The Epistles and the Apocalypse (Archbishop Averky)
    • Homilies on the Book of the Revelation (Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios)
  • Lives of Saints:
    • Prologue of Ohrid (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)
    • The Synaxarion (Hieromonk Makarios of Simonos Petra)
    • The Great Synaxaristes (Holy Apostles Convent)
  • The Way of the Pilgrim (SAGOM Press)
  • On the Incarnation (St. Athanasios of Alexandria)
  • These three by Met. Hierotheos Vlachos (in order):
    • Orthodox Spirituality
    • The Illness and Cure of the Soul in the Orthodox Tradition
    • A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain
  • Counsels from the Holy Mountain (Geronda Ephraim of Philotheou and Arizona)
  • Words of the Heart (Gerondissa Makrina Vassopoulou)
  • Spiritual Counsels (Series by St. Paisios the Athonite)
  • Elder Paisios of Mount Athos (Elder Isaac)
  • The Church at Prayer (Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra, Sebastian Press)
  • The Way of the Spirit (Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra, Ormylia Publications)
  • Hymn of Entry (Archimandrite Vasileios)
  • Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ (St. Justin Popovich)
  • My Life in Christ (St. John of Kronstadt)
  • Saint Nektarios: the Saint of our Century (Sotos Chondropooulos)
  • An Extraordinary Peace: St. Seraphim, the Flame of Sarov (Fr. Lazarus Moore)
  • These three by Constantine Cavarnos (in order):
    • Paths and Means to Holiness
    • Holiness: Man’s Supreme Destiny
    • Man’s Spiritual Evolution
  • Commentary on the Divine Liturgy (St. Nicholas Cabasilas)
  • God’s Revelation to the Human Heart (Fr. Seraphim Rose)
  • Nihilism (Fr. Seraphim Rose)
  • The Life of Fr. Seraphim Rose (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood Press)
  • The Letters of Fr. Seraphim Rose (Fr. Alexy Young, editor)
  • Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future (Fr. Seraphim Rose)
  • On the Providence of God (St. John Chrysostom)
  • On the Mystical Life (St. Symeon the New Theologian)
  • Handbook of Spiritual Counsel (St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, Uncut Mountain Press)
  • Concerning Frequent Communion (St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, Uncut Mountain Press)
  • Three Treatises on the Divine Images (St. John of Damascus)
  • Wounded by Love (St. Porphyrios)
  • Hymns of Paradise (St. Ephraim the Syrian)
  • The Life of St. Macrina and On Virginity (St. Gregory of Nyssa, SAGOM Press)
  • Saint Silouan the Athonite (St. Sophrony)
  • His Life is Mine (St. Sophrony)
  • On Prayer (St. Sophrony)
  • Our Thoughts Determine our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica (St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood Press)
  • The Way of the Ascetic (Tito Colliander)
  • Life of St. Anthony the Great (SAGOM Press)
  • The Unity of the Church (St. Hilarion Troitsky)
  • Eschatological Hymns and Homilies (St. Ephraim the Syrian, SAGOM Press)
  • For the Life of the World (Fr. Alexander Schmemann)
  • On Divine Names and Mystical Theology (St. Dionysios the Areopagite, SAGOM Press)
  • Modern Orthodox Saints Series (Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies)
  • Apostle to Zaire: The Life and Legacy of Blessed Father Cosmas of Grigoiou (Demetrios Aslanidis and Monk Damascene Grigoriatis, Uncut Mountain Press)
  • The Universe as Signs and Symbols (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)


  • Holy Scripture
  • The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian
  • The Spiritual Homilies of St. Macarios the Egyptian
  • The Contrite Discourses of Abba Dorotheos
  • The Evergetinos
  • The Philokalia
  • The Sayings of the Desert Fathers
  • The Ladder of St. John Climacos
  • Lives of Saints
  • Way of the Pilgrim
  • Salutations (Akathist Hymn) of the Theotokos
  • Counsels from the Holy Mountain (Geronda Ephraim of Philotheou and Arizona, SAGOM Press)
  • Saint Silouan the Athonite (St. Sophrony of Essex)


  • The Mind of the Orthodox Church* (Met. Hierotheos (Vlachos))
  • Patristic Theology* (Fr. John Romanides, Uncut Mountain Press)
  • The Ancestral Sin* (Fr. John Romanides)
  • Orthodox Psychotherapy (Met. Hierotheos (Vlachos))
  • St. Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite* (Met. Hierotheos (Vlachos))
  • Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ* (St. Justin Popovich)
  • The Rudder* (St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, SAGOM Press), see book’s introduction on why this is indeed essential reading for the Orthodox Christian
  • Empirical Dogmatics*, Volumes 1 and 2 (Met. Hierotheos (Vlachos) and Father John Romanides)
  • Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (Fr. Michael Pomazansky)
  • The Mysitcal Theology of the Eastern Church (Vladimir Lossky)**
  • Exomologetarion (St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite, Uncut Mountain Press)
  • The Homilies of St. Gregory Palamas (Mt. Tabor Publishing)
  • On the Mystical Life*, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 (St. Symeon the New Theologian)
  • From Saint Sophrony of Essex (in this order):
    • His Life is Mine
    • On Prayer
    • We Shall See Him As He Is
  • From his disciple Archimandrite Zacharias (in this order):
    • Christ, Our Way and Our Life
    • The Enlargement of the Heart
    • The Hidden Man of the Heart
    • Remember Thy First Love
  • Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses*, Volumes 1, 2 and 3 (Dr. Jean Claude Larchet)
  • The Ecclesiological Renovation of Vatican II* (Fr. Peter Heers, Uncut Mountain Press)
    • The Missionary Origins of Modern Ecumenism (Fr. Peter Heers, Uncut Mountain Press), a valuable supplement
  • Jesus Fallen?* (Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis), this one especially tackles a huge Christological heresy that is popular among mostly Western converts in academia
  • The One and the Three: Nature, Person and Triadic Monarchy in the Greek and Irish Patristic Tradition* (Fr. Chrysostom Koutloumousianos), this one tackles a huge anthropological error devastating the Greek Church and beyond