Author Topic: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?  (Read 4317 times)

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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« on: February 24, 2009, 05:03:17 AM »
Since I am new to the Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Faith, I wanted to know if the Philokalia is O.K. to read. It sounds very edifying, but my Priest said he is unfamiliar with this work. Perhaps this is because most of the writings are post-Chalcedon? I don't know, I'm just asking.

I would like to read some Orthodox spiritual works of the Fathers. My Ethiopian Orthodox Faith has a large selection of holy texts, but it is very hard to find English translations.

Could my Ethiopian brothers (or anyone else) help me out with this question?

Is there an Amharic title for the Philokalia?

Thank you.

Selam
""Love is a dangerous thing. It will crush you if you trust it. But without it you can never be whole. Love crucifies, but love saves. We will either be saved together with love, or damned alone without it."    Selam, +GMK+

Offline LBK

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2009, 08:57:56 AM »
From what I know, the bulk of the Philokalia writings, which have been gleaned from various patristic writings, date from the period after the Council of Chalcedon. There are some writings which predate this, but they do not form a great part of this work. The book itself was compiled in the 1700s.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2009, 08:58:19 AM by LBK »
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2009, 10:21:43 PM »
As I am not a Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox, I will not dare to venture my opinion as to whether the Philokalia and its teachings are in accord with non-chal Christianity.  Ask your priest.

However, let me warn you that the Philokalia, even for Orthodox is a work to be taken up and practiced only under the direction of a spiritual father and its asceticism is not necessarily able to be practiced by everyone.  So, be cautious before you venture into deep waters.  In conversations with your spiritual father (and I hope you have one), he may be able to point you to some more elementary steps before taking on the big enchilada.
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Offline Jonathan

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2009, 10:56:58 PM »
I'm interested in hearing opinions about this too.

I don't know enough to comment on it, but some other books to check out first if you haven't might be: 'the way of the ascetics' by Tito Colliander (great book by a layman about applying the teachings of the desert fathers for those not going to the desert), The sayings of the desert fathers, the paradise of the fathers, unseen warfare, and the ladder of divine ascent (this one definitely has some ideas we don't agree with, but I think they're pretty easy to spot and don't take away from the rest much), Dorotheos of Gaza Discourses & Sayings, 'The Spiritual Live' by Theophan the Recluse, books by Fr. Lev Gillet (who goes by 'A monk of the Eastern Church' like 'Dialog with the Savior' or 'In Thy Presence'. An obviously less famous one, but still good: http://www.stmaryscopticorthodox.ca/content/books/spirituality.pdf

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2009, 11:18:26 PM »
Some of our past threads on the Philokalia might be of some interest... :)

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2009, 11:30:29 PM »
Thanks to all for your helpful comments!

Selam
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Offline Jonathan

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2009, 11:56:44 PM »
Some of our past threads on the Philokalia might be of some interest... :)

Looking through these comments it seems as though the Philokalia has a lot of emphasis on stuff based on or influenced by Gregory Palamas and Hesychasism. Could anyone comment on whether that is the case or not? If it is, that would be an emphasis foreign to Oriental Orthodox spirituality that might be harmful to one trying to live in that tradition... I think sticking to the spirituality of the early desert fathers is safer for us... Without wanting to start any debate about whether both are right, or acceptable, or good or one better, I think it's safe to say that mixing in teaching from another tradition while you're trying to life in your own tradition is not going to be beneficial unless one has a very high level of discernment and knowledge...
« Last Edit: February 24, 2009, 11:59:36 PM by Jonathan »

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2009, 01:02:24 AM »
Some of our past threads on the Philokalia might be of some interest... :)

Looking through these comments it seems as though the Philokalia has a lot of emphasis on stuff based on or influenced by Gregory Palamas and Hesychasism. Could anyone comment on whether that is the case or not? If it is, that would be an emphasis foreign to Oriental Orthodox spirituality that might be harmful to one trying to live in that tradition... I think sticking to the spirituality of the early desert fathers is safer for us... Without wanting to start any debate about whether both are right, or acceptable, or good or one better, I think it's safe to say that mixing in teaching from another tradition while you're trying to life in your own tradition is not going to be beneficial unless one has a very high level of discernment and knowledge...

Thank you Jonathan. That was very helpful. Could you recommend some works of the Desert Fathers that are extant in English? I have read Athanasius' Life of Antony which is very powerful. And of course try to I read the Ethiopian Synaxarium each day, which is edifying but not exactly the best prose (forgive me, for I dare not mean to sound critical of any sacred work).

Thank you.

Selam
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Offline Jonathan

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2009, 08:52:57 AM »

Thank you Jonathan. That was very helpful. Could you recommend some works of the Desert Fathers that are extant in English? I have read Athanasius' Life of Antony which is very powerful. And of course try to I read the Ethiopian Synaxarium each day, which is edifying but not exactly the best prose (forgive me, for I dare not mean to sound critical of any sacred work).

Thank you.

Selam

The Life of Antony is the perfect start :)

Of course whatever your father in confession recommends is best, but what I personally would read next would be 'the Way of the Ascetics' and 'Practical Spirituality'

http://www.stvladimirs.ca/library/way-of-the-ascetics.html
http://www.stmaryscopticorthodox.ca/content/books/spirituality.pdf

They're contemporary attempts to distill the wisdom and asceticism of the Fathers and make it accessible to modern laymen, so they're great introductions.

Many of the books I listed previously are from Eastern Orthodox sources, but they mostly follow the early desert fathers so they're great for us to read. I didn't list other famous books like Maximos the Confessor since his way is more foreign to us.

Then books like:

http://www.amazon.com/Sayings-Desert-Fathers-Cistercian-studies/dp/0879079592/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235565982&sr=8-1
http://www.amazon.com/John-Cassian-Conferences-Classics-Spirituality/dp/080912694X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1235566034&sr=1-2
http://www.amazon.com/Lives-Desert-Fathers-Monachorum-Cistercian/dp/0879079347/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235566072&sr=1-1

are good for more first hand stuff.

If you want to get into more theological stuff as well, good starting points are
http://www.amazon.com/Incarnation-Saint-Athanasius/dp/1434811247/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235566111&sr=1-1
and
http://www.amazon.com/Unity-Christ-Saint-Patriarch-Alexandria/dp/0881411337/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235566137&sr=1-1

If you wand to get into explanations of the Bible there is a lot coming out in English from St. Cyril now.

There aren't as many first hand works translated as would be nice... but my priest mentioned that a lot of interest is coming up now, and that St. Shenouti's works are being translated and looked at.  So if you were to read all the books I listed in these two posts, probably there would be more good books available by the time you finished :)


I'm curious since you mentioned the Ethiopian Synaxarium... Does it have much in common with the Coptic one? Does it include Coptic saints, or is it a completely different work?

Offline Salpy

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2009, 09:26:41 PM »

Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2009, 01:59:19 AM »
Just as a word of caution - forgive me if someone has mentioned this already - if the Philokalia is ok for OO, one probably should not attempt it without guidance. It's a good idea to get permission/approval/assistance from your spiritual mentor.
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Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2009, 04:12:01 AM »
Just as a word of caution - forgive me if someone has mentioned this already - if the Philokalia is ok for OO, one probably should not attempt it without guidance. It's a good idea to get permission/approval/assistance from your spiritual mentor.

Thank you. My Priest said that it was O.K. for me to read it, but said that I should be careful not to be confused. So, I think since I am new to the Faith I will stick with the pre-Chalcedonian Fathers until I become well acquainted with their spiritual teachings. But I may go ahead and read The Way of A Pilgrim since so many people have recommended it.

I appreciate the word of caution. Indeed, spiritual matters should never be approached presumptuously.

Selam
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Offline Hiywot

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2009, 04:24:01 AM »
Jonathan
Quote
I'm curious since you mentioned the Ethiopian Synaxarium... Does it have much in common with the Coptic one? Does it include Coptic saints, or is it a completely different work?

The Ethiopian synaxarium is the coptic synaxarium plus ethiopian additions.

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2009, 04:31:50 AM »
The Life of Antony is the perfect start :)

Of course whatever your father in confession recommends is best, but what I personally would read next would be 'the Way of the Ascetics' and 'Practical Spirituality'

http://www.stvladimirs.ca/library/way-of-the-ascetics.html
http://www.stmaryscopticorthodox.ca/content/books/spirituality.pdf

They're contemporary attempts to distill the wisdom and asceticism of the Fathers and make it accessible to modern laymen, so they're great introductions.

Many of the books I listed previously are from Eastern Orthodox sources, but they mostly follow the early desert fathers so they're great for us to read. I didn't list other famous books like Maximos the Confessor since his way is more foreign to us.

Then books like:

http://www.amazon.com/Sayings-Desert-Fathers-Cistercian-studies/dp/0879079592/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235565982&sr=8-1
http://www.amazon.com/John-Cassian-Conferences-Classics-Spirituality/dp/080912694X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1235566034&sr=1-2
http://www.amazon.com/Lives-Desert-Fathers-Monachorum-Cistercian/dp/0879079347/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235566072&sr=1-1

are good for more first hand stuff.

If you want to get into more theological stuff as well, good starting points are
http://www.amazon.com/Incarnation-Saint-Athanasius/dp/1434811247/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235566111&sr=1-1
and
http://www.amazon.com/Unity-Christ-Saint-Patriarch-Alexandria/dp/0881411337/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235566137&sr=1-1

If you wand to get into explanations of the Bible there is a lot coming out in English from St. Cyril now.

There aren't as many first hand works translated as would be nice... but my priest mentioned that a lot of interest is coming up now, and that St. Shenouti's works are being translated and looked at.  So if you were to read all the books I listed in these two posts, probably there would be more good books available by the time you finished :)


I'm curious since you mentioned the Ethiopian Synaxarium... Does it have much in common with the Coptic one? Does it include Coptic saints, or is it a completely different work?

Thanks again Jonathan! This is very, very helpful.

Here is a link to the Ethiopian Synaxarium online. As I have been reading through it, it seems that it must at least be very similar to the Coptic synaxarium. http://www.stmichaeleoc.org/Synaxarium/Archive.htm

I would really like to read some Bible commentary of the pre-Chalcedonian Saints and Fathers. Maybe what you mentioned from St. Cyril would be good. Coming out of Protestantism, I am anxious to re-orient my biblical knowledge according to a proper Orthodox perspective. I have really been enjoying The Orthodox Study Bible, but I have to remind myself that it is not OO in perspective (but good nonetheless).

Thanks again.

Selam
""Love is a dangerous thing. It will crush you if you trust it. But without it you can never be whole. Love crucifies, but love saves. We will either be saved together with love, or damned alone without it."    Selam, +GMK+

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2009, 04:35:47 AM »
Jonathan
Quote
I'm curious since you mentioned the Ethiopian Synaxarium... Does it have much in common with the Coptic one? Does it include Coptic saints, or is it a completely different work?

The Ethiopian synaxarium is the coptic synaxarium plus ethiopian additions.


Thank you brother Hiywot.

Do you have any advice regarding the Philokalia or The Way of A Pilgrim? Are there any spiritual works that you would recommend to me that I can find in English?

God Bless.

Selam
""Love is a dangerous thing. It will crush you if you trust it. But without it you can never be whole. Love crucifies, but love saves. We will either be saved together with love, or damned alone without it."    Selam, +GMK+

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2009, 04:43:05 AM »
A new edition of The Paradise of the Holy Fathers has just been released:



http://www.amazon.com/Paradise-Holy-Fathers-2/dp/0980517125/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235396999&sr=8-1#

This looks good! Thanks my brother.

Selam
""Love is a dangerous thing. It will crush you if you trust it. But without it you can never be whole. Love crucifies, but love saves. We will either be saved together with love, or damned alone without it."    Selam, +GMK+

Offline Hiywot

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2009, 08:54:33 AM »
Gebre Menfes Kidus
Quote
Do you have any advice regarding the Philokalia or The Way of A Pilgrim? Are there any spiritual works that you would recommend to me that I can find in English?
Regarding the Philokalia or The Way of A Pilgrim I do agree with the advices given by the posts above and have nothing to add.

Regarding recommended readings, I have heard a lot of my friends here, in Ethiopia, appreciating the books of Pope Shenouda. I think that almost all of his books are translated in english and you can read about 34 of his books online in the following link: www.copticchurch.net/topics/pope/index.html. I don't know if there are some other links as well for his online books.

Regards,

Hiywot

Offline Jonathan

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2009, 09:01:36 AM »


I would really like to read some Bible commentary of the pre-Chalcedonian Saints and Fathers. Maybe what you mentioned from St. Cyril would be good. Coming out of Protestantism, I am anxious to re-orient my biblical knowledge according to a proper Orthodox perspective. I have really been enjoying The Orthodox Study Bible, but I have to remind myself that it is not OO in perspective (but good nonetheless).

Thanks again.

Selam

Some works by St. Cyril (on the Gospels of St. Luke and St. John) can be found here: http://stores.lulu.com/store.php?fAcctID=166367
His commentary on Isaiah can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Commentary-Isaiah-I-Chapters-1-14/dp/1885652941/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1235653142&sr=8-1

some more of H.H. Pope Shounda III's books can be found here: http://coepa.org/ Some ones to read first might be "Release of the Spirit" or "Discipleship"

Hope that helps!

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2009, 05:15:23 PM »
Thank you all very much. This has been very helpful to me.

Selam
""Love is a dangerous thing. It will crush you if you trust it. But without it you can never be whole. Love crucifies, but love saves. We will either be saved together with love, or damned alone without it."    Selam, +GMK+

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2009, 09:54:45 AM »
I would highly recommend Orthodox Prayer Life by Father Matta el Meskeen.

The translation is into English, and it is a very powerful explanation of our Orthodox spirituality that requires a reader to keep returning to the book.

I would also highly recommend Unseen Warfare, which is a translation of a truly excellent Orthodox book on spirituality that is very practical and is full of insight and wisdom. Even though it is actually based on a Roman Catholic book that was revised by a great Russian Orthodox spiritual master, there is nothing in it that is against our Orthodox faith, and a great deal which is transformational.

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2009, 12:05:47 PM »
I would highly recommend Orthodox Prayer Life by Father Matta el Meskeen.

The translation is into English, and it is a very powerful explanation of our Orthodox spirituality that requires a reader to keep returning to the book.

I would also highly recommend Unseen Warfare, which is a translation of a truly excellent Orthodox book on spirituality that is very practical and is full of insight and wisdom. Even though it is actually based on a Roman Catholic book that was revised by a great Russian Orthodox spiritual master, there is nothing in it that is against our Orthodox faith, and a great deal which is transformational.

in Christ

Father Peter

Thank you so much. I will try to find these works.

May Our Lord bless you this Lent!

Selam
""Love is a dangerous thing. It will crush you if you trust it. But without it you can never be whole. Love crucifies, but love saves. We will either be saved together with love, or damned alone without it."    Selam, +GMK+

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #21 on: March 05, 2009, 05:25:50 PM »
I would highly recommend Orthodox Prayer Life by Father Matta el Meskeen.

The translation is into English, and it is a very powerful explanation of our Orthodox spirituality that requires a reader to keep returning to the book.

I would also highly recommend Unseen Warfare, which is a translation of a truly excellent Orthodox book on spirituality that is very practical and is full of insight and wisdom. Even though it is actually based on a Roman Catholic book that was revised by a great Russian Orthodox spiritual master, there is nothing in it that is against our Orthodox faith, and a great deal which is transformational.

in Christ

Father Peter

Thank you so much. I will try to find these works.

May Our Lord bless you this Lent!

Selam

We should be asking for Fr. Peter's blessings  ;)
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Offline Eleos

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2009, 12:46:54 AM »
Greetings Gebre Menes Kidus,
I don't know the authoritative answer to your question, but will relate some of my experience.  I commune at a "Chalcedonian" church and have in the past visited a "Non-Chalcedonian" monastery from time to time in the southern California desert.  Abba Bishoy (memory eternal), a Coptic bishop/priest/abbot, of St Anthony's Monastery personally advised me (and some of my Egyptian college mates at the time) to read the Philokalia (yes, the very blue book edited by Sherrard et. al. he had in his hands) and to practice the Jesus Prayer.  I have continued to do so for about 13 years since that time, and it has been most helpful.

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Offline Didymus

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Re: Is the Philokalia O.K. for Oriental Orthodox Christians?
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2009, 11:59:34 AM »
Peace mate,

An Ethiopian priest born in the Caribbean has praised the Philokalia to me on a number of occasions.
...because I was not with you when the Lord came aforetime.
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