A look at various scripture reading plans

Pin on Orthodox Music
Icon of King David the composer of the book of Psalms.

One of the paths I went down while looking for something other than Protestantism was Benedictine monasticism. Not to be a monastic (now I know anyone may live an asthetic life and in fact things should not be so different between laymen and monastics), but looking for ways of being and ‘doing’ ‘extra’. One of the things I came across was St. Benedict saying that he wanted his monks to read through the Psalms every week. That’s a lot, folks. I actually challenged myself to do this and here is how:

LINK, go to this link you will not regret it. I was not even an Orthodox Christian when I discovered this website. I had no idea what a cheesefare week or meatfare week was I was so green.

GREEN HORN - Ancient Aliens | Meme Generator

This is the section you would be doing if you were following this reading plan:

22 September through 19 December


If you were so inclined, you could go to this site and print out the readings, create a book mark and place them in your bible as a reading prompt aid.

Next is the daily bible reading plan. Let us first look at the reading plan by St. Andrew Orthodox Church, perhaps my most favorite plan. Not that I don’t love all the reading plans. Okay maybe not but there is a reading plan out there for everyone.

St. Andrew’s reading plan is just so… I dunno; comprehensive? Extensive? Like a pizza with the works? Here’s why.

The reading plan comes in a variety kind of like an a la cart menu. You can either jump into the whole daily reading plan which covers; OT, Psalms, Proverbs, and NT, or you can do sectioned readings such as;

Also you could do just a Gospel Reading Plan.

Then there is the daily bible reading plan from the, Greek Orthodox Archdioceses of America.

Here are additional insights from the St. Andrew website on reading our bibles:

Ten Principles of Orthodox Scriptural Exegesis

adapted from Bishop MICHAEL (Dahulich)

  1. Christ – God is real and is incarnate in Jesus Christ; He is the Key to the Scriptures.
  2. Life – One’s ability to interpret depends upon one’s spiritual state; one must live it in order to fully understand it.
  3. A Love Letter – We read scripture to fall deeper in love with God and put on the Scriptural Mind.
  4. Theosis – We read Scripture to become by grace what God is by nature.
  5. Tradition – Only within the Church and her Tradition (the consensus of the Fathers) is there full and correct interpretation. Scripture is a witness to the truth, the pinnacle of Holy Tradition; it is not an exhaustive manual of church life. We must interpret the Bible as the Church has handed it, not try to reconstruct the canon of Scripture.
  6. Personal – Ask yourself not only: what does the text mean, but what does it mean for me?
  7. Humility – As many Church Fathers, consider your understanding of difficult texts as provisional. Use secondary knowledge (history, literary criticism, archeology) to illuminate our understanding, not redefine dogma. 

A prayer to help you focus:

Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

From the OCA website

Last, but not least, if all of this seems a bit overwhelming, you can also just go the the OCA website. They have a daily scripture reading that is linked up to scripture. When you click on the bible verse, it opens up and you can begin reading. LINK

Does this help you? Daily reading of scripture is great but attending services are important, even if you attend them online. It’s better than nothing.

Building your Orthodox library

How would you read about Orthodoxy if you were stuck for days, weeks, months, without the Internet?

While I have learned SO much about the Orthodox church by accessing online; blogs, podcasts, videos, e-books, etc. I have also been building a hard copy, old-school, analog (ha ha, I know not entirely accurate but my term I use for, non-digital) library.

Books, dear… I’m talking about good, old fashioned, made from paper books.

Image result for i love books gif

I think, other than the subjects of herbs, and nutrition/healing, my largest collection of books I own is on Orthodox Christianity. That said, I could read more, and more about Orthodoxy. It is the one subject about which, I would never grow tired of reading.

Of course, the Orthodox Study bible is paramount and I recommend it as your first major investment to your library. Find a reading plan on line, print it out and keep it with your bible. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit outdated. Sept. 1st is still Sept. 1st. It will be ok.

Books on the sayings of the desert fathers,

Sayings of the Desert Fathers   -     Translated By: Benedicta Ward SLG

and of the Optina Elders are necessary reading.

You can do collections such as this:

Living Without Hypocrisy: Spiritual Counsels of the Holy Elders of Optina

Or books about individuals such as this:

Elder Anthony of Optina

All can of course be found on Amazon.

Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica

One of the first books I read as a catecumen. So precious.

Wounded by Love

This author also has a blog.

The Orthodox Veneration of the Mother of God (Orthodox Theological Texts)

Words of the Heart: Gerondissa Makrina Vassopoulou

Buy also a good prayer book, and a good psalter you will read. People have their favorites but what really matters is to buy one you like, will pick up, and use.

Some books are for reference and not necessarily for daily reading: Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy is one.

Also, I glean from the reading lists of others such as that of the Abbot of Holy Transfiguration Monastery.

A word of caution about reading; The Arena. that is geared toward monastics and may trip up laity. If you MUST read something like that our parish priest recommends; Thirty Steps to Heaven as a Lenten read.

Image result for thirty steps to heaven

Here are a few other titles I recommend specifically for deeper study of the bible

You may purchase them one at a time as needed or all three in a set.

‘All three’ meaning commentary on; Book 1-The Four Gospels, Book 2- The Acts of the Apostles, Book 3-the Epistles and the Apocalypse.

About the author; Archbishop Averky approaches the New Testament first and foremost not as a literary work of antiquity, but as the revelation of Jesus Christ as God in the flesh. Writing in the tradition of biblical exegetes, he provides a commentary that is firmly grounded in the teaching of the Church, manifested in its liturgical hymnography and the works of the Holy Fathers. Analyzing all four Gospels chronologically and simultaneously, he allows readers to see the life of Christ as an unfolding narrative in accessible, direct language. Archbishop Averky’s commentaries on the New Testament have become standard textbooks in Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary and have been published in Russia to widespread acclaim. This present collection makes the complete commentary available in one collection for the first time. It is an indispensable addition to the library of every student of Holy Scripture.

This is a good start and your library will grow as you do. The important thing to remember is to purchase it in paper, and to not buy digital books. I also recommend buying some sort of notebook or journal in which you may record your thoughts. If you have a favorite book not listed here, please share it with us.