St. Mary’s Bookstore is a resource for people of all ages and stages in life to help them know, grow, and be inspired in the Christian Orthodox Church. With an extensive selection of books and a large selection of icons, the bookstore has much to offer. Newly remodeled, the bookstore is well organized to help you readily find a book you are interested in or to allow you to have a leisurely browse at your own pace. For those who want to make a brief visit, there is a “New and Noteworthy” display. The children’s section is organized to be browser friendly for children—and adults.
A few of the many categories of books are:
The Orthodox Church, Orthodoxy Living, Orthodoxy Bibles, Prayer Books, Liturgy, The Liturgical Year, Monasticism, Patristics, Elders, Saints, Marriage, Parenting, Children, Family Life, Iconography, and Cookbooks.
Father Anthony Coniaris of blessed memory, so beloved and appreciated by the people of St. Mary’s for his many years—72!—of ministry here, was a prolific writer (estimates are that he wrote about 80 books). The bookstore carries all Father Anthony’s books that are currently in print and available.
The bookstore has a good selection of prayer ropes from Mount Athos and many made by Jon Klein, the youth director at St. Mary’s; cards for all occasions (some created by talented parishioners); incense burners made by Doria Saros, the ministry support person St. Mary’s; jewelry with icons made by a parishioner; bookmarks; icon magnets; and more. The St. Mary’s Philoptochos cookbook titled Come Sit at Our Table: A Celebration of Food and a CD of St. Mary’s choir titled “Lead Me on a Level Path: A Liturgical Celebration” are available in the bookstore.
Whether you are looking for information or inspiration for your faith journey, please come visit St. Mary’s bookstore. Open each Sunday after the Liturgy, we are here for you. We welcome inquiries and special orders. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credits cards accepted. Gift certificates are available.
Please check back each month for a new “In the Bookstore” article featuring a book or other item(s) in the bookstore.
Click below to open book reviews!
February 2022 - "When You Fast"
by Rebecca Myerly – email@example.com
L. Joseph Letendre has written a brief, succinct, edifying, and sometimes humorous book titled When You Fast: The Why and How of Christian Self-Discipline. In the introduction, aptly titled “Coming to Terms with Fasting,” Letendre defines the term, locates it in the biblical context, addresses the “rules,” and concludes:
Fasting is eminently practical—in the literal sense: it is something you put into practice, something you do. Putting this Christian discipline into practice in twenty-first–century North America presents its own set of difficulties. This book will attempt to face some of these difficulties while showing the continuing relevance and importance of practicing both fasting and other forms of Christian self-discipline. (11)
The author divides the book into two parts, first addressing why we fast followed by how we fast. We fast because of Christ and the Church.
Fasting, together with other forms of self-denial we will consider…, is a crucial component in the work of taking up our cross. But the question remains, Why? There are (at least) three reasons: We fast to prepare. We fast to be free. We fast to be fruitful. (17)
The reader is invited to fast with the Church and choose one’s weapons, by which he means:
There’s more to fasting than fasting. The word “fasting” is shorthand for the entire range of disciplines Christians have undertaken for centuries. For the Church, these are the tools, or more accurately, the weapons we use in our largely unseen warfare against the kingdom of Satan, the kingdoms of this world, and the kingdom of self….Along with fasting, the disciplines of abstinence include solitude and silence, self-restraint through frugality and chastity, and sacrifice—all performed in secrecy. These disciplines are the equipment we have been issued by the Church for our spiritual struggle. They are provided to help us build a life that is of service to our neighbors and pleasing to God. These disciplines are our weapons in our resistance campaign against the three enemies of grace—the age in which we live (the world), our own fallen human nature (the flesh), and the one who wields these against us (the devil). The Church calls the proper and effective use of these weapons asceticism….The word “asceticism” is rooted in the Greek word ascesis, which means “exercise, training.” (39, 41-42)
Letendre starts this ascetical exercise with fasting from food, learning and growing in the concept of denying oneself. He writes:
Asceticism is goal-oriented. Fasting, and all the other Christian disciplines, are tools…for specific purposes….Asceticism is intended to increase our capacity to love God and our neighbor….The whole point of Christian asceticism is to increase our capacity to obey Christ. (49, 62)
From fasting from food the author moves on to fasting from talking and the vital importance of cultivating silence —interior, exterior, and in one’s environment. After providing clear evidence for the importance of silence and guidance for clearing one’s mind of toxic thoughts and thinking, Letendre concludes with an appendix titled “A Field Guide to Toxic Thoughts” which is a clarion call to any reader who has been really listening while reading When You Fast: The Why and How of Christian Self-Discipline.
“We fast because we are loved, and we fast to be better able to love.” (89)
January 2022 - "At the Doors of Holy Lent" is a great guide and companion...
by Rebecca Myerly – firstname.lastname@example.org
At the Doors of Holy Lent is a great guide and companion for entering into the liturgical season of Great Lent. Written by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou of the Stavropegic Monastery of St. John the Baptist in Essex, England, this book focuses on the five Sundays preparing for the Triodion and the four Sundays of the Triodion. In addition there is a section titled “Constant Principles for Our Spiritual Warfare.” The Introductory Note explains:
“During the period before the Triodion and the Sundays which mark its beginning, the Church sets forth before our eyes various lessons through the Gospel readings: the grateful Leper, the Blind Man of Jericho, Zacchaeus, the good and faithful Servant of the ‘talents’, the Canaanite woman, the Publican, the Prodigal Son and the Righteous on Judgment Day. Through some word, or deed, or attitude, these people all attracted God’s gaze upon them. They became the target of his visitation and traversed centuries in an instant. These suffering souls, who had withered away either because of sin or because of not knowing the true God, came into the presence of the Lord and ‘a spiritual sun, the name of which is persona, began to rise in them.
…In this way, the Church guides us, knowing the struggle which we are encouraged to undertake in order to find our deep heart, so that we may also become persons in the sight of our Creator and Judge, the targets of His visitation.
…The path is trodden. The constant principles are laid out with clarity, and we must keep them in our conscience as our polar star, as pearls of great price. We must embrace them so that they may render our labour fruitful not only during Great Lent, but also throughout our lives. (11-12)”
Reading what Father Zacharias writes about the Gospel readings for each Sunday, we are sitting at the feet of a wise spiritual guide and elder inviting us to hear, know, and grow in this word of God. Father Zacharias writes:
“In every passage of the Gospel we find a perfect teaching that portrays the whole Christ. He is hidden in every verse of Scripture, but according to the Fathers, in order to discover Him, we need to ‘use the virtues of our hands to knock on the door of Scripture’.” (52)
Reading At the Doors of Holy Lent we are knocking at the door of Scripture and Father Zacharias leads us through the doors with God-given wisdom and grace.
Note: The Sunday of the Ten Lepers, the first Sunday written about in this book, is on January 16, 2022.
December 2021 - Bookstore Treasures
by Rebecca Myerly – email@example.com
The bookstore at St. Mary’s is a great source for truly meaningful gifts in all seasons, but especially for Christmas. Now is a good time to visit the newly remodeled and conveniently organized bookstore to select gifts that nourish the spirit. For people stopping in for a quick browse, there are featured item displays including a “New and Noteworthy” section. You will find a large selection of icons and books and other gift ideas from which to choose. Gift certificates are also available.
During this season of grace, there are many icons of the Nativity and books available to enrich the Advent journey. Christmas ornaments and micro icons (1”-1 ½” in size) are popular gifts for friends and family.
With an abundance of books to choose from, two to highlight are
• 101 Orthodox Saints by Presvytera Sarah Wright and Alexandra Schmalzbach, with illustrations by Nicholas Malara. This is a great book for people of all ages, even though the book is featured for children.
• Timeless Wisdom: Frescoes from the Community of St. John the Baptist (Essex, England). This beautiful book is filled with icons of Saints and meaningful passages for prayerful meditation. In the introduction explaining this book, the community writes: “Saints were selected based on their ascetic writings, and each carries a scroll presenting their words on the general theme of “brotherly love.” In the case of women monastics whose writings have not come down to us, their scrolls contain some representative aspect of their lives.” (6)
If you are looking for a gift to be enjoyed around the house or in a dorm room, the bookstore has branched out and brought in some new items with designs by Orthodox Christian artist Aaron Gray, including mugs and framed canvas prints. The mugs feature Saints with their powerful words of inspiration. They are microwaveable, dishwasher safe, and available in 11 oz. and 15 oz. sizes. The canvas prints feature words of faith and encouragement. They measure 8”x 8” x 1 ½” so they can be featured on a table or desk top—or be hung on a wall. Aaron explains that all his creations are “made with the prayer that [they] will bring the spirit, beauty and joy of the Orthodox Church out into the world and into the everyday lives of Orthodox Christians.”
For parents and grandparents looking for a child’s gift that can last for generations, we are delighted to offer hand-carved Orthodox Churches made of building blocks. We are grateful to Presvytera Alexandra for introducing us to Alex Goncharov, who lives in Canada and carves the churches from Canadian Red Western Cedar and Olive Wood harvested in Bethlehem. His labor of love began as a way to teach his daughter about Orthodoxy and all the parts of the Church. He makes two churches a week, at night, after his day work. If you are interested in one of these sets, please come to the bookstore or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This is simply a sampling of the gift ideas in the bookstore. Come and see!
November 2021 - "On Fasting and Feasts" by Saint Basil the Great
by Rebecca Myerly – email@example.com
On Fasting and Feasts by Saint Basil the Great is a fitting book for the liturgical season of the Nativity Fast when the focus for Orthodox Christians leading to the Nativity of Christ is on fasting while for many—Christians in other traditions and others in the world—this is a season of feasting. Susan R. Holman and Mark elCogliano (a professor at the University of St. Thomas) have translated nine sermons by Saint Basil, all relevant to fasting and feasting and the liturgical year—including “On the Holy Birth of Christ,” “On Baptism,” “On Giving Thanks,” “Against Drunkards,” two sermons on fasting, and three sermons on martyrs. Dr. Holman’s helpful introduction provides the reader with background and context to enrich understanding and appreciation of the sermons, each of which has a distinctive character.
The purpose and message Saint Basil had in mind and heart are clearly tailored to his audience. At the same time, there is a universal relevance to his messages that transcends the specific context in which each sermon was originally given to address the human condition in general.
Saint Basil’s sermons were sometimes catechism classes given in the form of a sermon. On occasion, they rose to liturgical praise, as in his sermon “On the Holy Birth of Christ,” when he says:
“Let us…welcome this great joy into our hearts. The angels bring good news of this joy to the shepherds. Let us adore with the magi. Let us glorify with the shepherds. Let us sing with the choirs of angels: For to you is born today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. The Lord is God, and he has shone upon us….It is the feast in which all creation shares.” (38-39)
Saint Basil was—and is—a perceptive guide and astute teacher. He was also direct in his assessments and admonitions. For example, in his sermon “On Baptism,” urging his listeners to be baptized, he says:
“Look inward, to the secret depths of your own soul. Take inventory of your conscience. Do not despair if you find you have many sins, for where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, if, that is, you receive grace. Much is forgiven the one who owes much—so he might love more.” (46)
He warns of the evil one who tries to trick one into thinking and saying, “Today for me; tomorrow for God.” (50) Then he urges his listeners, “Take instruction; learn the Gospel rules….Be dead to sin. Be crucified with Christ, your whole heart in love with the Lord.” (51)
Fasting is a priority for Saint Basil and often woven into his sermons, as the practice is foundational for truly living in Christ. In his “Second Homily on Fasting,” he explains: “Fasting is likeness to the angels, companionship with the righteous, moderation in life….Fasting is the beginning of repentance….We must fast with an acceptable fasting that is pleasing to God. True fasting is being a stranger to vice, controlling the tongue, abstaining from anger, distancing oneself from lust, evil speech, lying, perjury. The absence of these vices makes fasting true, and so shunning these vices makes fasting good.” (78, 80)
On Fasting and Feasts is a good resource of guidance and direction for Orthodox Christians, especially now as we journey to the Nativity of Christ in faith, hope, and love.
October 2021 - "Ten Homilies on the Beatitudes"
by Rebecca Myerly – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten Homilies on the Beatitudes contains little known sermons by St. John of Kronstadt (1828-1909), one of the best known modern Russian saints. St. John’s personal chronicle My Life in Christ has been broadly known since it was first translated into English at the beginning of the twentieth century, but it is only recently that his Ten Homilies on the Beatitudes has been translated into English.
Professor Nadieszda Kizenko-Frugier, the translator of these homilies, wrote an informative introduction that includes a brief history of St. John of Kronstadt, the religious and political environment he lived in, his social consciousness, how the Homilies came to be, and the priorities St. John addressed in and through them.
She writes: At first, Father John’s reputation was local. Then, in 1883, Russia’s largest newspaper, New Time, ran an open letter from grateful recipients testifying to their healing at his hands. This brought him national fame and established Kronstadt as one of the leading pilgrimage sites in Russia. People came by the shipload; those who could not inundated the post office with their pleas. He became the first modern Russian religious celebrity, with his image on souvenir scarves, mugs, placards, and postcards. His sermons were printed in virtually every newspaper and journal. In effect, all of Russia was his parish. (6)…People from every social class and religion in the Russian Empire, including Muslims, Buddhists, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, and Jews, wrote and flocked to him, and the emperor Alexander III himself acknowledged that St. John was “the most popular person in Russia.” (10)… In 1894, when he was asked to minister to the dying emperor Alexander III, his fame became international, attracting correspondents from Europe and the United States. (6)
St. John’s social consciousness was great and focused through the lens of the Beatitudes. In these homilies, which date “from St. John’s early period, when he was known primarily in Kronstadt and its environs…(we see him) as a local parish priest, intimately concerned with the life and behavior of his immediate flock.” (7)
Professor Kizenko-Frugier emphasizes that “above all, the Homilies are an invitation to the Liturgy….By concentrating on a simple and basic text (the Beatitudes) which he notes are “read or chanted” every day, (St. John) illuminates the entire Divine service” (12) and the direct words of Christ.
In these homilies St. John lays the groundwork and framework from—and in—which he speaks of the Beatitudes, defining and delineating each Beatitude and revealing the vitality in each. In a very real way, Ten Homilies on the Beatitudes is a catechism given by a loving shepherd to his flock—those listening in his parish when he gave the homilies and listening readers of all times and in all places. St. John reveals how living the Beatitudes is truly life giving.
September 2021 - "Creation as Sacrament: Reflections on Ecology and Spirituality"
by Rebecca Myerly – email@example.com
September first, the first day of the ecclesiastical new year, is a day of prayer for all Orthodox Christians “to offer prayers for the protection and preservation of the natural creation of God.” (188)
Creation as Sacrament: Reflections on Ecology and Spirituality was written by Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis. Eminently and uniquely qualified to write about the environment from his many years as Archdeacon to Patriarch Bartholomew (aka the green patriarch), Fr. Chryssavgis has written an invitation and clarion call to see God’s creation as the gift it is and to live with respect and compassion for all creation. He begins by explaining that caring for creation is fundamental and foundational in the Orthodox faith, and is rooted in the history and beliefs of the Church.
On creation as sacrament, Fr. Chryssavgis writes: “The divine mystery revealed in Christ is the foundation and substance of all sacraments, which unveil something greater and deeper than whatever we see in the world….The word [sacrament] (is) equivalent to the Greek term “mystery” (mysterion) that denotes a reality hidden while at the same time revealed through initiation….In this sense, since everything is a reflection of the divine, the actual number of Christian sacraments—or mysteries, as they are known in the Orthodox Church—can never be limited to the seven conventional rites of baptism, chrismation, the Eucharist, marriage, confession, unction, and ordination…
In all its transcendence, a sacrament always remains an historical event, demanding material expression in which God becomes manifest in time and space. For instance, the Eucharist is God’s manifestation in bread and wine, where the world becomes the historical and material sacrament of God’s presence, transcending the ontological gap between created and uncreated. The world articulates and relates in very tangible terms this co-inherence and cooperation between divine and human in history, denoting the presence of God “incarnate among us” (John 1:14). In this way, the sacramental principle becomes the way that we perceive the world around us as sacred, a tangible mystery revealing and reflecting the invisible divine: the spiritual in matter and the eternal in time. (87)
A sanctioned—or sacramental—way of appreciating and approaching the world lies in the distinct symbols and values of the Orthodox Church, which include: icons (the way we view and perceive creation), liturgy (the way we celebrate and respond to creation), and ascesis (the way we respect and treat creation). Orthodox icons, liturgy, and spirituality offer a fresh way of seeing and imagining the world asintended by God from “the beginning.” (113)”
With this awareness, one realizes that “every act of exploitation, pollution, or destruction of the natural environment is an offense against God.” (165) Patriarch Bartholomew, “whose focus is on creation as the body of Christ…considers both the planet and all people as the incarnate body of the Creator, an inseparable and interconnected part of the living God.” (180)
He states: “To commit a crime against the natural world is a sin. For humans to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation…for humans to degrade the integrity of Earth by causing changes in its climate, by stripping it of its forests, or by destroying its wetlands… for humans to injure other humans with disease and contaminate Earth’s waters, land and air with poisonous substances…these are sins. (163-164)”
Fr. Chryssavgis writes that we are called to “a cosmic liturgy” which is a worldview in which “everything bears a sacramental seal and everything enjoys a sacred significance.” (175)
We should ruminate and meditate on the way we are living, on what we are doing. If we are going to effect a shift in our attitude and change our lifestyle in order to regulate or reverse the environmental crisis, we must first of all perceive our world and ourselves; we must change our worldview, our image or “icon” of the world. This calls for a change of mindset, a conversion of heart that is the essence of repentance and its Greek concomitant metanoia.” (176)
Key to this struggle is the “ascetic imperative” that implies more than simply living or living simply. It issues into compassionate concern for all people, to the least of our brothers and sisters, as well as to all creation, to the last speck of dust. Compassion is what Christians are called to be and supposed to be about—a compassion extended to every living being and every natural landscape. …Christian compassion should be expanded to the reverence for and sustenance of every living creature. (180)
Creation as Sacrament is informative and edifying, with clear guidance on creation care.