Saint Silouan the Athonite

In the autumn of 1892, a young peasant – his name was Simeon – from the province of Tambov reached Mt Athos. Although he was unlearned and ignorant in the ordinary sense – two winters at the village school were all he could boast of in the way of scholarship – tireless inner striving gave him a personal experience of Christianity identical with that of many of the early ascetic Fathers.

Saint Sophrony went to Mt. Athos in 1925 and there, at the Monastery of St. Panteleimon, became amanu­ensis to Staretz Silouan whose writings were pencilled in laborious, unformed characters on odd scraps of paper.

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Dimensions 21.7 × 14 × 3.4 cm
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Revelation concerning God declares, ‘God is love’, ‘God is light, and in him is no darkness at all’. How difficult for us mortals to agree with this! Difficult, for both our own personal life and the life of the world around us would appear to testify to the contrary.

Indeed, where is this light of the Father’s love if we all, approaching the end of our lives, in bitterness of heart can lament with Job, ‘My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart … If I wait, the grave is mine house . . . Where is now my hope?’ And that which from my youth my heart has sought secretly but fervently – ‘Who shall see it?’

Christ Himself attests that God is concerned for all cre­ation, that He does not ignore a single small bird, that He clothes the grass of the field, and His concern for people is so incomparably great that ‘the very hairs of our head are all numbered’.

But where is this Providence that is attentive to the last detail? We are all of us crushed by the spectacle of evil walking unrestrained up and down the world. Millions of lives that have often hardly begun – before they are even aware of living — are strangled with incredible ferocity.

So whyever is this absurd life given to us?

And lo, the soul longs to meet God and ask Him, ‘Why didst Thou give me life? … I am surfeited with suffering. Enveloped in darkness. Why dost Thou hide Thyself from me? I know that Thou art good but wherefore art Thou so indifferent to my pain?’

‘Why art Thou so . . . cruel and merciless toward me?’

‘I cannot fathom thee.’

Contents

Foreword

PART I

The Staretz’ Life and Teaching

I. Childhood and Early Years

II. Arrival on Mt. Athos

III. Monastic Striving

IV. Portrait of the Staretz

V. The Staretz’ Doctrinal Teaching

VI. Pure Prayer and Mental Stillness

VII. The Imagination and the Ascetic Struggle against its Various Aspects

VIII. Uncreated Divine Light and Ways of Contemplation

IX. Grace and Consequent Dogmatic Consciousness

X. Spiritual Trials

XI. ‘Keep thy mind in hell, and despair not.’

XII. The Divine Word and the Bounds of Created Nature

XIII. On the Purport of Prayer for the World

Afterword

XIV. The Staretz’ Demise

XV. Testimonies

Postscriptum

PART II

The Writtings of Staretz Silouan

Foreword

I. Yearning for God

II. On Prayer

III. On Humility

IV. On Peace

V. On Grace

VI. On The Will of God and on Freedom

VII. On Repentance

VIII. On the Knowledge of God

IX. On Love

X. We are Children of God and in the Likeness of the Lord

XI. On the Mother of God

XII. On the Saints

XIII. Concerning Shepherds of Souls

XIV. Concerning Monks

XV. Concerning Obedience

XVI. Concerning Spiritual Warfare

XVII. Concerning Intrusive Thoughts and Delusions

XVIII. Adam’s Lament

XIX. Reminiscences and Conversations

XX. Thoughts, Advice and Observations on Asceticism

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