Year of blogging 2014

After my year of reading recaps, with favorites, stats, and fun lists
a few things on the blogging front itself:

Here are the 3 book reviews most often read this year – click on the book covers to access the reviews:

#1

Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses

#2

Summer House With Swimming Pool

#3

My Wish List cover

And the most viewed not-book-related post: on The Basilica of Saint Denis – with my own pictures. @nd year ina row, I really would like to know why! Any idea?

My best 3 book bloggers referrers in 2014 were – please go visit them!:

  1. Glory to God In All Things
  2. Caffeinated Book Reviewer
  3. Flashlight Commentary

The book blogger who commented most:

Katherine at

I Wish I Lived in a Library

THANKS TO EACH OF YOU
WHO CAME TO VISIT
AND LEFT A COMMENT

I HAVE DECIDED TO IMITATE SOME OTHER BLOGGERS IN 2015:
my best commenter will receive a book at the end of 2015!

Short Eastern Orthodox Book Reviews

I’m glad to post religious reviews today, for the Feast of the Nativity. The following are books I enjoyed very much; unfortunately, I don’t have time to write a long review for each, if I want to catch up with the reviews of all the books I read in 2013 before the end of the year!

Year of Grace of The Lord

The Year of Grace of The Lord:
A Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary
on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church

by
Lev Gillet
aka A Monk of Eastern Church
Translated by Deborah Cowan

 

Publisher: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press
Pub. Date: 1980
ISBN: 978-0913836682
Pages254

Genre: Nonfiction / religion
Source:
bought

Goodreads

Buy Link

As the subtitle clearly states, the book follows the liturgical year of the Orthodox Church, starting on September 1st, and through 7 chapters comments on each feast, with its meaning and the meaning of the scriptural passages attributed to each feast.

Lev GilletThere’s always a very simple and refreshing style to Lev Gillet, and it has always been a delight for me to read his meditations on Scripture. He always comes up with deep and simple ideas and images, and make you see things in a different perspective, full of pure goodness from the heart. I inserted here his picture, as I believe you can see the goodness of the man on his face.
You can read more about this fascinating man here. His biography by Elisabeth Behr Sigel is amazing!

I’d like to quote here a few passages:

The 3 conversionsLight at Easter

An external event, be it even the Resurrection of our Lord, has no practical value for souls unless it translates itself, in them, into an increase of that inner Light which must direct our whole life.
p.196

We are justified by faith, but faith is nothing unless it transforms our life, unless it bears fruit, and leads to holiness.
p.222

***

Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses

Therapy if Spiritual Illnesses
By
Jean-Claude Larchet
Translated by Kilian Sprecher

 

Publisher: Alexander Press
Pub. Date: 2012
ISBN: 1896800394
Pages833

Genre: Nonfiction / religion
Source:
bought

Goodreads

Buy Link

As mentioned in my previous post on vol.1, I read this book in French many years ago. Not sure why, but the recent English edition came out in a 3 volume box set. I recently finished the 2nd volume, which deals with the movement from illness to health again, though the Sacraments and different means of implementation of the therapy.

The subtitle tells you more about the vast fresco of this book: An Introduction to the Ascetic Tradition of the Eastern Church.

The book covers ALL the themes related to Orthodox theology and spirituality, it is a mine full of tons of riches and multiple Patristic quotations.

The Table of Contents of the 3 volumes will give you a better idea:

larchet1

larchet2

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE BOOK
OF EASTERN ORTHODOXY?

Book Review: Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses

Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses

Jean-Claude Larchet

Jean-Claude Larchet is certainly the most famous current French Eastern Orthodox theologian.

“Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet is a French Orthodox researcher who is one of the foremost Orthodox Patristics scholars writing today. Born in 1949, Dr. Larchet converted to the Orthodox Church from the Roman Catholic Church at the age of 22. He holds doctorates in philosophy (1987) and theology (1994) from the University of Strasbourg. He is one of the very few contemporary authors who is able seamlessly to combine rigorous scholarship with a vibrant sense of the inner life of the Church. His prolific writings on the spirituality of the Fathers of the Church and on orthodox theology (twenty-two books, over one hundred and fifty articles) have been translated into no less than 15 languages”. [wikipedia – click on the wikipedia link to see his bibliography].

I was fortunate to be in France at the time of the publication of Thérapeutique des maladies spirituelles (1991). Since then, I embraced Orthodox myself and moved to the US. I had to wait until 2012 to finally be able to share this gem with my non-French readers friends.Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses: An Introduction to the Ascetic Tradition of the Orthodox Church (2012) is, I believe the most complete, thorough, and accessible presentation of Eastern Orthodoxy.

From 1 volume in French, it became a 3-volume set in English.

What’s remarkable in this rich book is the perspective: Larchet provides a whole overview of the history of salvation according to Orthodox believers, that is, Christians and Fathers from the very beginning of the Church and on, from the perspective of health and sickness:

larchet3

We were created in the image and likeness of God, healthy at all levels of our being. Sin, which as you may know, means actually in Greek to miss the target, introduced sickness and madness in humanity. Hence the development of all the passions, as illnesses gradually touched all aspects of our being.

Christ was sent as the Savior, the healer  (in Greek, to save and to heal are the same verb). Through the Sacraments,we recover health where disease was. This short passage is a good illustration:

larchet4

This is a very short way of putting the whole thing.

The Table of Contents of the 3 volumes will give you a better idea:

larchet1

larchet2

If you consider that every page is strongly based on the teaching of the Fathers of the Church, with numerous quotes and references, you can now measure the importance of this work.

Here are favorite quotations of volume 1, though seriously, I could copy here half of the book! I still have my French notebook where I would write by hand all my favorite passages, and I have dozens of pages from that book!
I will add as I go along:

Man is by nature theanthropic. If he is not a man-god in the likeness of the God-man, he is not a man at all. Man defined by himself, independently of his relation to God that is inscribed in his very nature, is a non-human being. There is no such thing as pure human nature; man is man-god, or else he does not exist.   p.26

All of the Fathers insist on the fact that Adam was created entirely good by God. In his natural condition in paradise, man lived wholly in the good. Not only did he commit no evil, but he was even unaware of it, temptation giving him knowledge not of evil itself, but only of the possibility of it, the very knowledge of evil appearing as a result of sin, and not as its cause.   p.38

“In place of spiritual and divine knowledge, man received carnal knowledge. Yea, he began to see with the eyes of the body, the eyes of his soul being blinded, fallen from imperishable life.” St Symeon the new Theologian, quoted here p.50

I personally like to read this last quotation in the perspective of the Transfiguration, where the reverse finally came to be: the apostles’ eyes were healed of their inner blindness and open to Christ’s glory.

Man, taking as the true being that which appears to him, introduces an utter and total confusion into his perception of reality. he takes the false for the true and the true for the false, evil for good and good for evil. he considers to be most real that which is the least real (appearance), and considers what is most real (the spiritual, intelligible and divine reality) to be the least real or even as if non-existent. Thus, fallen man has a completely upside-down view of what is real.  p.60

As for the translation, it flows rather well, though I did notice a couple of small examples where it was clear only if I tried to figure out what it was in the original French.

But these examples are very rare, and I am most happy the translator chose to follow the French as for gender choice instead of the invading inclusive language which always makes me feel really stupid: if the author writes only ‘man’, I would be too stupid to understand he means the whole of humanity, and so he needs to say ‘man and woman’, and multiply unnecessary pronouns.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PRESENTATION
OF EASTERN ORTHODOXY?