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


"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 ...

See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (17) from $2.91   
  • New (2) from $65.00   
  • Used (15) from $2.91   
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:



New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Seller since 2010

Feedback rating:


Condition: New
Hardcover New 0060654988 New Condition ~~~ Right off the Shelf-BUY NOW & INCREASE IN KNOWLEDGE...

Ships from: Geneva, IL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Sort by
Sending request ...


"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.

In the tradition of Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk, this luminous chronicle of one woman's encounter with the ancient faith of Eastern Orthodoxy lifts a veil to show its enduring grace and power. 224 pp.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
With both humor and depth, NPR commentator and syndicated columnist Mathewes-Green describes a year in the richly liturgical life of the Eastern Orthodox Church, as experienced in a small Maryland parish founded by a group of recent converts.

North America is currently witnessing a remarkable growth in the Orthodox Church, a faith distinguished by its icons, mystical writings, and vibrant ancient traditions. Mathewes-Green tells us what it's like to enter this unfamiliar and at first sight daunting world. Raised a nominal Catholic, she became a skeptic as a student and then embraced Hinduism, before returning to Christianity with her husband, Gary, as a result of an unexpected religious experience during their honeymoon. In 1977 Gary was ordained an Episcopal priest, but 15 years later, frustration with doctrinal and moral confusion in the Anglican Church led him, and eventually his wife and three teenage children, to Orthodoxy. Mathewes-Green's narrative is a 12-month journal, in which we get to know the 30-odd pioneers of the new parish as they make their way through their Church's intriguing cycle of festivals and fasts. We meet Gary in his new role as an Orthodox priest; Basil, a larger-than-life Greek who has rediscovered his early faith; and the young couples who form the bulk of this lighthearted but fervent community. Mathewes-Green intersperses anecdotes about her friends and family with vivid descriptions of the services and their ancient texts. While she succeeds in writing about this traditional Eastern Christian faith from a contemporary, distinctively American perspective, she does not pursue her insight that Orthodoxy has a special appeal to men, and she tends to play down the role of the different ethnic jurisdictions in American Orthodoxy.

A mine of information about the customs and spiritual life of the Orthodox Church, presented in a very human and accessible way.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060654986
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Frederica Mathewes-Green is the author of numerous books about early and Eastern Christian spirituality and the Orthodox Church. She is a columnist for Beliefnet.com, a commentator on National Public Radio, and writes movie reviews for National Review Online. She and her husband, Fr. Gregory Mathewes-Green, have three children and five grandchildren.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Preparing for Lent

February 11, 1995
St. Blaise the Martyr

Week Of The Publican And The Pharisee

How to Make a Church

How to Make a Church: My husband, Gary, was an Episcopal priest for fifteen years. Believing that that great hulk of a denomination was about to shipwreck in apostasy, repealing the creed and condoning immorality, he led us out -- myself, our daughter, and our two sons. A handful of others came with us from our Episcopal parish: a widow; a young woman whose husband doesn't attend church; a pair of newlyweds; a couple with four young children, the oldest son autistic; a couple with two teens, the dad in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis.

At the end of January 1993, we were chrismated together into the Orthodox Church, and my husband was ordained a priest. (Chrismation is the initiation rite that brings previously baptized Christians into the Orthodox Church; it's analogous to confirmation in the West.) Two weeks later -- Valentine's Day -- we celebrated our first Divine Liturgy in the echoing front parlor of an empty old house. We were Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Mission of Catonsville, Maryland. There were more letters in our name than there were of us.

How to Make a Church: Basil sized up the room and began pointing. A massive, scarred oak library table stood in the middle of the floor, ringed with bulky crate-built wooden chairs. Residue from the room's weekday tenants -- adults with psychiatric disabilities still littered the tabletop: dried glue, glitter, smears of red elementary school paint,spattered coffee stains. Another table, a long folding contraption with a ruined top, had been set up toward the back and surrounded by orange plastic chairs with tubular chrome legs. A jumble of other chairs and boxes dotted the floor.

"Okay," Basil said, waving a hand. "All of this hasta go.

Holy Cross Mission had quickly outgrown our parlor and subsequently had moved to this space, the home of ReVisions, an adult day care program. The building itself is lovely, an 1878 red brick schoolhouse with a high white vaulted ceiling, beam braced, here in the assembly room. High in the arch of the wall behind the altarplace is a large window made of eighty square mullioned panes. The view through the old glass is wavery, though a few crisp replacement panes interrupt almost rudely. Through the seasons I can see the heights of the spreading tree next door change colors, shed leaves, then burst with the "sticky little leaves" of spring (I think of my tormented co-religionist, Ivan Karamazov). Birds shoot past without warning, softly distorted by the old glass as if swimming underwater, then snapped into focus by a new pane.

The upper twelve feet of the room are lovely, but at eye level it is cluttered with bulletin boards, mismatched shelves, Valentine's Day decor, cubbyholes, and a defunct aquarium. There is a strong scent of industrial cleaner. I stand on the left with the choir every Sunday and look across the room at a Parcheesi game and a sewing machine on the top of a tinny metal cabinet. They never move.

The visual story of this room, descending from the airy ceiling and window, through the jumble, ends with the floor: rubber linoleum squares in bright streaky green. The only eye-level touches with any charm are the aged slate blackboards, devouring large sections of wall and framed in wood. Some of these are set with what must have been the controller for a primitive central-heatand-air device: a big black disk of iron, topped with a big black lever. The lever swings from left to right, allowing two alternatives: "WARM AIR" or "COLD AIR."

All of this hasta go, or at least as much as is portable. Basil heads the Temple Set-Up/Take-Down team, and he's a natural takecharge guy: about sixty, with sharp black eyes, a Greek nose, and the pear-shaped figure that must inevitably come to a short-order cook. His team today includes Frank, a retired hotel exec who was chrismated with his wife Jeanne just a few months ago. Frank is a small mountain of a guy, with the feigned gruffness of a city-beat cop; simultaneously large and compact, he looks like somebody pushed him together with a snow plow. Jeanne is fluffy and goodnatured, and I call her Smiling Jeanne to differentiate from Hardworking Jeannie, the parish workhorse.

The other guy on the team, Jay, is one of the original band of converts and came with Heidi and the four kids. It is his son, Jared, who is autistic. Jay looks worn lately. Jared at nine is getting big and pretty strong, and though he's usually quiet he still sometimes interrupts the liturgy with a scream or sudden lunge. I try to take those moments as gifts; they serve to remind me of how little I comprehend of the things of God. The distance from Jared's understanding to mine is short compared to the distance from me to the mind of our Holy God. I take communion as lost in incomprehension as Jared; all I can do is receive.

While Jay and Basil shift the tables and chairs, my husband and Frank pull out from the corner a wooden cube, about a yard on each side, and turn it around. This is our altar. "You want to empty all this out first," Gary tells Frank, "and then when it's unloaded and light we can put it in place.' Inside the back of the altar the shelves are stocked with a brass blessing cross, brass candlesticks, glass cruets, tall candles, votive candles, and a silver-covered Gospel book. This new one replaced our original Gospel book, which had been given to us secondhand by another parish when we first started out. "I'm afraid it looks pretty worn," the priest had apologized, "because it's been kissed so much.' Orthodox kiss a lot.

Facing East. Copyright © by Frederica Mathewes-Gre. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A great book!

    This book is a great read. It belongs in the library of any one. Anyone interested in Greek Orthodox would learn many things from this book. The author's exploration of her faith through her family is an appealing structure for the book. It is an easy read, but the information is not simplified. If you like this book, I would also recommend her other book which is "At the Corner of East and Now."

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2001

    Orthodoxy in America

    Here is an excellent book on Orthodoxy in America, how it is lived out, not only in Church on Sunday, but throughout the year. Written in down-to-earth language, this is a must read that I encourage all that are wondering about Orthodoxy to read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)