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First Fruits of Prayer: A Forty-Day Journey Through the Canon of St. Andrew Paperback – September 30, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 195 pages
  • Publisher: Paraclete Pr (September 30, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 155725611X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557256119
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #651,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this fascinating and sometimes magisterial guided exploration of an eighth-century hymn that is central to Lenten religious practice for the Eastern Orthodox, Mathewes-Green encourages her readers not only to examine but also to personally apply fundamental Christian concepts like repenting, understanding the nature of sin and experiencing God in prayer. A skilled interpreter of the theology and history of the Orthodox tradition, Mathewes-Green arranges the Great Canon of St. Andrew, bishop of Crete, into 40 readings accompanied by scriptural references, commentary, theological reflection and questions. Mathewes-Green, who has clearly done her scholarly homework, sets the stage by giving a brief overview of Andrew's life and an abbreviated paraphrase of the life of St. Mary of Egypt. (This account of a female hermit's meeting with a monk on a Lenten retreat is also read during the service of the Great Canon. This gem from the early church is alone worth the price of the book.) While some readers may be put off by Mathewes-Green's apparent conviction that her denomination has preserved the soul of the early church while Western Christians have strayed, others will find her insights both evocative and provocative. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Frederica Mathewes-Green is a columnist for Beliefnet.com and a commentator for National Public Radio. She has been interviewed in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, and Time, among other publications, and is the author of several books, including At the Corner of East and Now (Tarcher) and The Open Door: Entering the Sanctuary of Icons and Prayer (Paraclete). Mathewes-Green lives in Maryland. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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I used this as a devotional during Lent and found it very helpful.
Josh
I expect that this book will begin to look worn, as the years go by, as well as a few other favorites on my bookshelf!
Sasha
This is truly a wonderful book for all who are Eastern Orthodox Christian.
Avid reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Pennsylvania Settler on January 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't intend so much to review this book (which I found excellent), as to respond to a couple of questions posed by the reviewer below, John Zxerce.

Mr. Zxerce seems to be looking at the theology of the book through a Protestant/Reformed lens. No doubt, if this is the case some of what he sees will seem strange, even foreign, to his understanding of the Faith. An example of this is his putting forth of several implicit or explicit "either/or's." But from an Orthodox perspective these are seen more as "both/and's." Salvation is found through "a Savior to be embraced" and "an example to be followed." One aspect of soteriology doesn't preclude or negate the other. Of course, one must "embrace" the Saviour before one can follow Him, but it the Orthodox mind the two are not radically separate. Salvation is a gift of God's grace, without a doubt. But that doesn't eliminate the need to live a Christ-like life. To put it in Western terms, righteousness is both "imputed" and "infused." It's not one or the other.

The ransom/redemption texts of Scripture that Mr. Zxerce quotes will fit just as well into the Orthodox paradigm of salvation as rescue, as they do into the Western understanding of the "substitutionary atonement," which of course the Orthodox believe, albeit not in the same way. Sin and death are definitely real enemies--I'm not sure how one could come away with any other idea after reading the Canon of St. Andrew. The difference between Orthodoxy and Protestant Christianity in this regard is the manner in which the two sides see those enemies being defeated.

It is important to remember that the Western "substitutionary atonement" model of the death of Christ isn't all there is.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jackie Maine on March 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book to go through during lent, or for that matter, at any time of the year. There are 40 excerpts from the Canon of St. Andrew. Frederica Mathewes-Green links these selections with the scripture from the Bible that inspired them and includes a brief commentary on each verse.

This book makes one look at their own shortcomings and sins, but also shines the light of a loving and merciful God as the help and healer of our human spiritual ailments. I really am enjoying reading and being challenged by this book.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By RJ on February 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eastern Christian thought, prayer and spirituality is not well enough known in "the West." The Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is a beautiful prayer, and Ms. Mathewes-Green does an excellent job in communicating these values in a way that those of us with a "Western" mindset can understand, appreciate, and find meaning in our lives. Great reading during the Lenten season.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Robert C. Bonds on April 13, 2009
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To those in the Western Church, especially the Protestant demoninations, Lent is not well understood. Even to most Episcopalians, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics, Lent is not given its due importance, though it is part of the respective church calendars.

For us in the Eastern Church, Great Lent is a time where we are called to reflect upon our sins which separate us from God. It is a time where we truly fast as did Christ during his 40 days in the desert. Great Lent is one of the best opportunities to refocus ourselves on living a Christian life.

Yet, even many Orthodox Christians are like their counterparts in the Western Church, in that their connection to this period of fasting, prayer, alms giving and repentence is weak.

What Frederica Mathewes-Green has done, is that she has provided us guide to help us take the journey that early Christians took in preparing for the celebration of the arisen Christ. She has taken the words of St. Andrew of Crete and given them meaning that we in today's world can relate to. Her commentary takes to the true meaning of what St. Andrew has written, it helps us cross that bridge so that we can pause, reflect and take the daily steps we must take in order to fulfill the commission of this holy season.

Try reading this book at night before retiring, letting the words of St. Andrew and Frderica's skillful interpetive narrative fill your thoughts as you close your eyes to sleep.

This book is not for casual reading, it is for one who is seeking a greater understanding of a spiritual journey we as Christians (East or West)need to take as we approach the day Christ's sacrifice upon the cross.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sasha on February 13, 2007
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I have read the Canon of St. Andrew several times in the past. This book is helpful in causing a deeper dig within my own heart, to grasp the faith of the Ancient Christians! I expect that this book will begin to look worn, as the years go by, as well as a few other favorites on my bookshelf!
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By Joy Ware on March 13, 2010
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First Fruits of Prayer by Fredricka Matthews-Green presents the classic Christian work of St. Andrew Of Crete, including the story of St. Mary of Egypt with clarity. Each of the forty day devotionals goes through a section of the canon, cites, and often includes the referenced Scripture. There are thoughtful questions at the end of each of day's reading. Anyone interested in a deeper prayer walk will find journeying with this a valuable experience, not necessarily restricted to the Lenten Season.
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More About the Author

Frederica Mathewes-Green writes mostly about the Eastern Orthodox Church; she and her family converted in 1993, and her husband, Fr. Gregory, is pastor of the church they founded near Baltimore. In addition to her 10 books, she has published over 700 articles and opinion pieces. Topics range from movie reviews to humor to marriage and family, with particular focus on the pro-life cause; she is a past vice-president of Feminists for Life. She has provided regular columns and commentary for NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Los Angeles Times Book Review, Religion News Service, Christianity Today, Beliefnet.com, BreakPoint, Our Sunday Visitor, National Review, Odyssey TV Network, and Ancient Faith Radio. For a year, she served as a consultant for Veggie Tales. She has been interviewed by news media almost 700 times. She travels frequently to give talks at conferences, colleges, and churches--over 500 events so far. She can type big numbers. Here are a few more: 300, 550, 1060. Didn't even break a sweat. Here's some more: 800, 930, 322. OK, that's enough for now. Inspiration doesn't always strike when you tell it to, yknow.

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