The Next Book

Greetings, faithful readers,

Just a brief announcement. On the Here to Pray blog (which few if any still read), I promised a new book.

Having taken just over a year to pray and blog the book, Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way, by Matthew the Poor, I’m sure that everyone is just waiting on the edge of their seats to see what I have selected for the next round.

Actually, the new book chose me. I had been planning to read/blog a completely different book that also sat in a pile of spiritual works waiting to be read – but it is not to be. Or at least not yet.

For in a particularly deep time of prayer, experienced only by grace, I found myself simply getting up, going to my bookcase and pulling out an entirely different book.

The new book, begun this holy season of Lent, is Father Arseny 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father.

However, a problem has arisen. I cannot put it down.

And I do not feel worthy to write a word about Father Arseny. Some things are simply too sacred to be commented upon.

And so, for now, I will continue absorbing the book and leave its half-prepared blog site untouched.

Perhaps something will be written about it in the future. That is up to God.

In the meantime, I must read. And read. And have my faith renewed at a level that I did not know was possible.

You are welcome to read with me, even if I remain silent. (I suspect that, if you have already read the book, you will understand.)


For those who may be curious, I will provide a brief excerpt from the cover description:

Father Arseny, former scholar of church art, became Prisoner No. 18376 in the brutal “special sector” of the Soviet prison camp system. In the darkness of systematic degradation of body and soul, he shone with the light of Christ’s peace and compassion. His sights set on God and his life grounded in the Church, Father Arseny lived by the injunction to “bear one another’s burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2)

However, having read the first 76 pages, I can say that this description only scratches the surface of what lies inside this book. Yes, there are narratives compiled by “servant of God Alexander concerning his spiritual father” – but what they reveal are not simply the details of a man’s life, but the action of God amidst some of the most devastating evil one can imagine.

If I am meant to write, I will share more at a future time. In the meantime, blessed Lent to all.

3 thoughts on “The Next Book

  1. albert

    I understand your silence, Mary. I read the book a few years ago and was amazed, especially at the courage and faith of the women who helped Father Arseny avoid detection as he moved around and conducted prayer sessions in apartments and homes. Good choice of reading material!

  2. jfreeder

    Albert, I believe that you are talking about the second Father Arseny book, that is when he had more or less gone into seclusion whereas the first book is about his time in the Soviet prison system.

  3. mary Post author

    He is still in prison at the point I am reading. I appreciate comments but would ask those who have read to not discuss the book(s) here just now for the sake of those of us who are experiencing them for the first time.

    BTW, after I wrote this post, I noted online that some have questioned whether Father Arseny was an actual historical person or a fictional character. I am relating to him as a real person but acknowledge that some things cannot be certain because so many people were “erased” under Soviet communism and fear was great during those times and thereafter. A helpful podcast, to any who are not already familiar, is linked below, delivered by the translator’s son. (A balanced and fair discussion, I think.)

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