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Facing East: A Pilgrim's Journey into the Mysteries of Orthodoxy

by Frederica Mathewes-Green

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2032109,506 (3.72)3
"He was an Episcopal priest, but he was standing in an Orthodox church on this Saturday night and thinking about the Truth. At the altar a gold-robed priest strode back and forth swinging incense,...a small choir was singing in haunting harmony, voices twining in a capella simplicity...the ancient words of this vesperal service had been chanted for more than a millennium. Lex orandi, lex orandi; what people pray shapes what they believe.... "She was his wife, and she was standing next to him thinking about her feet. They hurt" Frederica Mathewes-Green became an unexpected companion on her husband's pilgrimage into a faith that is as novel to us in the West as it is ancient in the East. Like many Americans seeking a deeper faith, Mathewes-Green and her family found in Eastern Orthodoxy a faith both demanding and offering more in true devotion and spirituality. In this luminous, affectionate, and deeply personal account of her pilgrimage, Mathewes-Green reveals a church strongly rooted in the teachings of its early fathers and a tradition of principle and great beauty that has endured throughout the centuries. Following the framework of the Orthodox calendar -- from Lent to Pascha to Nativity, from Vespers to feasts to fasts -- Mathewes-Green chronicles a year in the life of her small Orthodox mission church. Discovering the splendor and solemnity of Orthodox ritual, exploring the daunting majesty of Orthodox services and customs, and sharing their daily anxieties, disappointments, and delights, the Mathewes-Green family and the members of the Holy Cross Mission Church reveal both the intricacies of Orthodox belief and the deep joy they have found in their new faith. At once entertaining, hilarious, and reverent, Facing East is an unforgettable portrait of the human vitality and divine essence of Eastern Orthodoxy.… (more)
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Yes, this is an NPR commentator's memoir of the "personal journey" sort, but there's nothing typical in her approach - no awkward exhibitionism, no sense that life is being filtered and processed, turned into cultural commodity. In fact, this reads like a wagon-train tale of a couple driving their children and their future off into an untamed frontier. And that frontier just happens to be- to American eyes, at least - the most mysterious and most radically traditional form of Christianity. An utterly charming inviting read. - Adam
  stephencrowe | Nov 11, 2015 |
In this memoir, Mathewes-Green describes her family's conversion from Episcopal to Eastern Orthodox. She describes the events of a single year shortly after their conversion. This approach gives readers a good feel for the rhythms of the Orthodox faith, touching on all major feasts of the church as well as introducing a vibrant cast of secondary characters that surround the Mathewes-Green family at their little parish. This book is a good introduction to Orthodoxy for those who are interested in the joys and challenges of a personal story of conversion. Pair it with The Orthodox Church by Ware for a more comprehensive understanding of Orthodox theology. ( )
  foggidawn | Dec 2, 2009 |
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With love
to my brothers and sisters
at Holy Cross Orthodox Mission.

Many years!
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He was an Episcopal priest, but he was standing in an Orthodox church on this Saturday night and thinking about Truth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"He was an Episcopal priest, but he was standing in an Orthodox church on this Saturday night and thinking about the Truth. At the altar a gold-robed priest strode back and forth swinging incense,...a small choir was singing in haunting harmony, voices twining in a capella simplicity...the ancient words of this vesperal service had been chanted for more than a millennium. Lex orandi, lex orandi; what people pray shapes what they believe.... "She was his wife, and she was standing next to him thinking about her feet. They hurt" Frederica Mathewes-Green became an unexpected companion on her husband's pilgrimage into a faith that is as novel to us in the West as it is ancient in the East. Like many Americans seeking a deeper faith, Mathewes-Green and her family found in Eastern Orthodoxy a faith both demanding and offering more in true devotion and spirituality. In this luminous, affectionate, and deeply personal account of her pilgrimage, Mathewes-Green reveals a church strongly rooted in the teachings of its early fathers and a tradition of principle and great beauty that has endured throughout the centuries. Following the framework of the Orthodox calendar -- from Lent to Pascha to Nativity, from Vespers to feasts to fasts -- Mathewes-Green chronicles a year in the life of her small Orthodox mission church. Discovering the splendor and solemnity of Orthodox ritual, exploring the daunting majesty of Orthodox services and customs, and sharing their daily anxieties, disappointments, and delights, the Mathewes-Green family and the members of the Holy Cross Mission Church reveal both the intricacies of Orthodox belief and the deep joy they have found in their new faith. At once entertaining, hilarious, and reverent, Facing East is an unforgettable portrait of the human vitality and divine essence of Eastern Orthodoxy.

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