Some of you have inquired about Fr. Maximos' suggested order to reading the Philokalia. Rather than respond individually, I'm posting it here as it was distributed to us. Just a note: for my class, I reversed the first two readings and started with the general introduction, the went into the text he mentions first (“Guarding the Mind and the Heart”). It has worked out just fine.
I am deeply indebted to Fr. Maximos for his presentations. When it comes to prayer, I need all the help I can get.
FR. MAXIMOS (CONSTAS)
THE TRADITIONAL PATH OF ENTRY INTO THE PHILOKALIA
Before reading any of the works in the Philokalia, it will be helpful to read the following two items. The first is St. Nikodemos’ outstanding summary of all the principle doctrines and practices that the reader will encounter on the traditional path of entry into the Philokalia. The second is his Introduction to the Philokalia, which was omitted by the English translators.
St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, “Guarding the Mind and the Heart,” in id., A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel, trans. P. Chamberas (New York, 1989), 153-172.
St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, “Introduction to the Philokalia,” trans. C. Cavarnos, The Philokalia, vol. 1 (Belmont, 2008), 27-40.
* The following works constitute the traditional path of entry into the Philokalia. When read in this order, they gradually and wisely initiate the reader into the practices of inner attention, spiritual sobriety, and the Prayer of the Heart. Moreover, they amply demonstrate the Biblical and Patristic foundations of these practices, as well as their direct connection to the sacramental life of the Church. Because the mind must first be recalled from its many distractions, these works encourage the practitioner to use the breath as a way to lead the mind to the heart, and from there to invoke the name of Jesus Christ. Having read and understood the basic principles and practices presented in these works, one may afterwards move more freely throughout the other works in the Philokalia.
1. St. Nikephoros the Hesychast, On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart
2. Saints Kallistos and Ignatios, Directions to Hesychasts (WfPh, pp. 164-270).
3. St. Hesychios, On Watchfulness and Holiness (EPh 1:162-198).
4. Evagrios, On Prayer (EPh 1:55-71).
5. A Discourse on Abba Philemon (EPh 2:344-357).
6. St. Symeon the New Theologian, On Faith (EPh 4:16-24).
7. St. Symeon the New Theologian, The Three Methods of Prayer (EPh 4: 67-75).
8. St. Gregory Palamas, In Defense of Those who Devoutly Practice a Life of
Stillness (= Triads 1.2) (EPh 4:332-42).
9. St. Gregory of Sinai, On the Signs of Grace and Delusion (EPh 4:257-86).
EPh = The Philokalia, vols. 1-4, translated by G.E.H. Palmer, P. Sherrard & K. Ware (London, 1979-
1995). The 5th and final volume, containing the works of Ss. Kallistos & Ignatios and other writers, has
WfPh = Writings from the Philokalia on Prayer of the Heart, translated from the Russian text by E.
Kadloubovsky & G.E.H. Palmer (London, 1951).