Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Book Review: Journey to the Kingdom

Recently Paraclete Press has published some very interesting and inspiring books. They recently publishing Life Together: Wisdom of of Community From the Christian East by my friend Bishop Seraphim Sigrist as well as some reprints of classic spiritual texts such as Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection and The Rule of Saint Benedict, among others.  

Their most recent offering is a little book called Journey to the Kingdom: An Insiders Look at the Liturgy and Beliefs of the Eastern Orthodox Church. The author is Father Vassilios Papavassiliou, a priest in the Greek Orthodox Church in England.

The book is really what the title says, a guide or tour through the Divine Liturgy by someone who knows the Liturgy well. The twenty chapters are short and can be read in a few minutes. The publisher also included some very nice black and white pictures as a visual aide for the reader: the priest holding a censer, the altar table, and interior pictures of Churches. For someone who knows very little about the Orthodox Church worship this guide is a good resource, especially for the neophyte. It will also be a good resource for Adult Education programs for people who want to get a refresher on the Divine Liturgy.

Every so often there are "break out texts" which describe some things in greater detail. Like on page 5 where he talks about the two different liturgies, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great and then on page 89 when he talks about fasting and so forth. These little break out texts are also useful.

This book is a welcome introduction to the Divine Liturgy and a good resource for beginners. After reading Journey to the Kingdom readers may want to dig into something deeper such as Alexander Schmemann's The Eucharist as a way to learn more about the theology and context of Eastern worship.

To learn more about Journey to the Kingdom click here