- My 3 best Orthodox websites
- My favourite 3 sources
- Just begin!
- My recommended reading map
My 3 best Orthodox websites
To start I was born and raised a Coptic Orthodox Christian in Australia. But I never began my Orthodox spiritual life until I began deeply reading holy Orthodox texts, though I strove to be religious beforehand. But it all began through reading, and I believe neither can others experience a much more deeper, truer and glorious Orthodox spiritual life without regular reading.
For > 4 years, on almost a daily basis or perhaps 95% of the days of those 4 years, for typically at least 15 mins on those particular days, I’ve been reading Orthodox content. I’ve seriously and seriously, and carefully and carefully, and deeply and deeply, and reverently and reverently, not so much read as studied, an enormous deal of Orthodox content based off primarily the lives of the saints and undoubtedly holy people, as well as the practical teachings of these people. I’ve read and deeply digested more than a 1000 saint quotes, more than a 100 articles, many books and more than 50 saint lives.
I recall that one time, when I first began to get into reading and whilst I was still at university, I received such ineffable joy to such a great degree in reading the life of St John Chrysostom, that I didn’t notice the hours go by and my eyes started to water and turn red. This is an example of how I found these precious and holy readings to be so valuable and useful to the salvation of my soul, as they should be for every person who truly cares for the salvation of their souls.
Additionally, not only do I read, but I struggle according to my poor ability to apply what I read. And this struggling to apply what one reads is something much more higher, more harder and challenging, than to study these holy works – without which, our reading is not profitable. And this struggle is what unites one with God because God is not known by the intellectual capacity of the mind, but rather by those who struggle to grow gradually in prayer over time.
In my vast reading experience and in my opinion, there are no websites that have more reliable, higher quality and very well-written Orthodox content as these three. They are are listed in order of my favourite:
- www.orthochristian.com – this site has very well-written articles of about probably > 100 modern day Russian, Greek and Georgian saints. I love reading them!
- www.orthodoxinfo.com – this website has some really great stuff on practical spirituality such as prayer, reading, fasting, etc. On the other hand, it has some articles that might very seriously upset people as they criticize certain authors in the Orthodox church and criticizes the Oriental Orthodox church quite strongly. I agree with certain articles of criticism and disagree with others. Don’t let this upset you. Be wise and emotionally stable. We must learn to utilize the good from anything we find and not completely reject it if it has things we might strongly disagree with. It’s important to read broadly about every spiritual concept from various saints and holy people so we get a holistic, broad perspective on a topic and not just a one-sided approach.
Never forget these these three! Look at them ONLY AFTER you look at the articles below because I have handpicked these articles from these three websites and I’ve read and re-read and re-read many of these articles (not all of them) below over time and have found them to be extremely excellent articles on the various topics. I am saying this because the websites might have articles that are not as interesting, engaging and wow as the ones below – as would any website – and I don’t want you to get turned off from reading.
Please note – all of these sites have a strong stance against the Coptic Church and condemn us (and me) as monophysites. However I don’t let that bother me and ignore it because the Coptic Church has strong and real monasteries and saintly ascetics just like the Russian church. Having done my own careful and deep study of many Coptic and Russian saints, both have demonstrated they are able to acquire tremendous heights of grace and the Holy Spirit – evident through their extremely love filled and miraculous deeds.
I don’t encourage anyone to convert from Coptic to Russian Orthodoxy. Our denomination has its exalted beauty as well. Despite this, these 3 websites are profoundly spectacular depositories of very high quality and well-written Orthodox material which I don’t think I’ll ever find similar things in the Coptic Church.
There is no point in using other websites apart from these 3. This will just confuse you and we don’t have time to read the whole Orthodox internet. If you don’t find articles that you are searching for within a particular topic below and you dilligently want to deepen your knowledge of the Orthodox faith on certain topics, you can easily search for the topic in the search engines of those 3 websites.
Smart things to search for might include: homosexuality, emotions, marriage, humility, love, loneliness, church history, saints, asceticism, fasting, death, suffering, illness, monasticism, theology, the church, martyrdom, martyrs, bible, the church in the home, guidance, prayer, the Jesus Prayer, Catholicism, Protestantism etc.
My favourite 3 sources
Are the life-changing, pure and exalted writings of St Theophan the Recluse, St Ignatius Brianchaninov and detailed and well-written accounts of the lives of the 1000s of modern day saints. All these 3 areas are found on those 3 websites above. I am sure that many zealous Orthodox Christians who are avid readers of the writings of the saints and have years of experience in doing this, will agree with me, that there are perhaps no saints in the history of the church whose writings can compare to the simple, uncompromisingly deep and wholly and amazingly expressive writings of St Theophan the Recluse and St Ignatius Brianchaninov on true Orthodox spirituality. I would say not even St John Chrysostom, whose writings have lost some of their power due to the different context and time he lived in.
A wise man once said “We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once”. Memorize this quote and let it pop into your brain whenever you get overwhelmed by many tasks that you want to do.
You don’t need to read all these links below at once. Don’t be overwhelmed! Simply set a daily reading routine i.e. 10 – 15 mins. Use a stopwatch so you know how much time you are spending doing it. But if you can read for longer, I highly recommend you do so! Read through one link at a time.
Just strive to establish a regular reading routine for now. Don’t get upset if you miss it out on one day – that’s ok – just read the next day. Or perhaps you might find you have more time on 3 days of the week where you can read for around 30 mins each day, rather than 10-15 mins on a daily basis. That’s fine too. The most important thing right now is to just ease yourself into the very crucial and very important habit of spiritual reading and somewhat establish it within yourself at least a few days of the week (or at the very great stretch, one day a week).
One should also think carefully for the best time to read. Perhaps that’s when you are travelling on a train or a bus, or during meal times, or before you sleep, or before you study, or as a break from your duties/responsibilities during the day.
If you set this time aside, this means this time is reading time which means that you don’t need to rush your reading. Focus on quality reading – deep, careful, serious, repeated and reverent reading. Do not read hurriedly.
My recommended reading map
1) Begin by reading very carefully a few of the lives of the saints in the “Saints & martyrs” link under the “articles” header at the top of the website without acting whatsover at all on anything you read. This is because the lives of the saints are for beginners. This will humble you, fill you with great inspiration, provide a strong spiritual desire to grow and an appreciation of God’s marvelous grace at work. Perhaps read all 5 of these links for now
- Sweet stories about Fr Pishoy Kamel
- Contemporary martyrs of Egypt
- Remembering the holy Patriarch Pavle of Serbia (-2009)
- Fr Mikhial Ibrahim – a man of prayer
- Remembering Tunt Samira of California (-2015): The intimate friend of St Kyrillos VI
2) After that I recommend you patiently, carefully and seriously read all the articles under “What is Orthodoxy?” found in the “Spiritual instructions” link also under the “articles” header at the top of this website.
3) After that I recommend you patiently, carefully and seriously read all the links under the heading “Spiritual reading – the lives of the Orthodox saints” and “Spiritual reading – the writings of the Orthodox saints (AKA the Holy Fathers)” so you can understand the importance of regularly reading Orthodox patristic ascetical texts and also how you can properly read them and wisely apply them to your life. These are also found in the “Spiritual instructions” link under the “articles” header at the top of this website. That is because reading them wrong can cause you tremendous spiritual and physical harm and lead you to demonic delusion.
4) After that read whatever you like. It doesn’t really matter too much which topic you read. Don’t overthink what topic you want to read. Remember “We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once.” The reading itself over the years will teach you what’s important when you see particular concepts reappearing in the different things you read.
Good printable versions of some of the articles are found here. These could be useful to print out and hand out to those who you think will appreciate it and who prefer reading physical copies of thing rather than on the internet.
Also perhaps you can ask your parish priest if you could print them out and keep them on a rack somewhere suitable in the church where people can take them for free. This way your parishioners can benefit from the articles too.