On the Mountain … Seeking

Mount Athos gets little press in the Western Protestant (and I think Roman Catholic) churches (some links: wiki, homepage, monachos). A book I’ve started to read, on Saint Silouan, the Athonite. A little explanation, Athonite means “of Mount Athos”, which means the the subject of this book was a monk residing at a Russian monastery (St. Panteleimon). St. Siluan was born a Russian peasant in 1866. This book is in two parts, the first a description of his life, his actions, and his teaching and interactions with those around him, the second collections of what the Saint himself wrote, apparently on “scraps of paper” kept in his cell. The staretz Siluan was almost illiterate, but was as evidence in this book, very holy and wise. Staretz, btw, means “spiritual father”, a practice in the Eastern tradition is that there are spiritual directors/fathers guiding the spiritual life of the members of the community. Often this person is the priest, but as is the case with staretz Siluan this is not always the case. Another term, this book was written by Archimandrite Sophrony. Archimandrite, in English, would be translated as Abbot and signifies the leader of a monastic community.

This book is remarkable, and it should (if my faulty memory serves me) to be on my “most influential book” list at the end of the year.

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  1. DebD says:

    that does indeed sound like an interesting book. I enjoy reading about the lives of saints.

    I’ve attempted to read a few books on Orthodox spirituality only to hit a brick wall. Perhaps this one is a bit more approachable?

  2. Mark says:


    I’ve found it readable, but have decided not to read it quickly (which is my wont) to absorb it better.

    Have you read St. Theophan’s Spiritual Psalter his collections of St. Ephraim the Syrian’s Psalms?

    What sorts of books have your tried (and not liked), I’ve “tasted” some few (in my year or so of being Orthodox 😉 ).

  3. Mark says:

    Oh, I had a thought (and it’s free!). At the ethereal (online) library, hop over to the “church fathers” link and download the St. Cassian pdf. His conferences are, I found, quite readable. He’s also excerpted in the (in think volume 1) of the Philokalia (in the English printing).

  4. DebD says:


    I’ve *tried* a lot of Orthodox books. That is why I ask if he is approachable.

    In fact. s-p over at Pithless Thoughts has a insightful entry (the comments are good too) about reading Lossky.. I related to Grace’s comment quite a bit.

    But to what I have read. Besides the standard Schmemann, Hopko and Ware… I’ve read occasionally from the Spiritual Psalter. I also enjoyed Fr. Arseny, Way of the Pilgrim, Bread&Wine, Oil & Water (Webber), The Apostolic Fathers, Orthodox Worship (by Williams), St. Athanasius, Foster’s book on Confession, and Elder Cleopa. I attempted Staniloae about a month ago and need to try it again. I have The Lament of Eve and The Trial of Job on my lenten reading list. Last Lent I used a Church Father’s reading list put together by the Catholics. It was very good, but not necessarily devotional.

    Thats what I can remember.

    Thanks for the link I keep hearing about St. John Cassian and how good he is. I’ll have to try him out.