The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way [NOOK Book]

Overview

This classic of world spiritual literature is the firsthand account of a pilgrim's journey as he endeavors to live out Saint Paul's instruction to "pray without ceasing." The narrator, an unnamed nineteenth-century peasant,
sets out on his pilgrimage with nothing but a Bible, a rosary, and some dried bread. As he walks, he recites the Jesus prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me")—a prayer that is said to quiet anxiety and fill the heart with love for all creation. With ...

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The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way

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Overview

This classic of world spiritual literature is the firsthand account of a pilgrim's journey as he endeavors to live out Saint Paul's instruction to "pray without ceasing." The narrator, an unnamed nineteenth-century peasant,
sets out on his pilgrimage with nothing but a Bible, a rosary, and some dried bread. As he walks, he recites the Jesus prayer ("Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me")—a prayer that is said to quiet anxiety and fill the heart with love for all creation. With this prayer constantly on his lips, the pilgrim undergoes a profound spiritual education. This edition includes the sequel to
The
Way of a Pilgrim,

entitled
A
Pilgrim Continues His Way,

which contains a lengthy appendix reviewing the teachings of the Holy Fathers on the Jesus prayer.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780834825642
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 335,319
  • File size: 413 KB

Meet the Author

Olga Savin is a graduate of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

From
Way of a Pilgrim

First
Narrative

By the grace of God

I
am a Christian man, by my own actions a great sinner, and by calling a homeless wanderer of the humblest origins, roaming from place to place. My worldly belongings consist of a knapsack on my back, containing some dried bread, and a
Holy Bible in my breast pocket. That is all.

On the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost I went to church to worship at the
Liturgy. During the reading of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians
[1 Thess. 5:17] I heard the following words:

"Pray without ceasing." This verse especially fixed itself in my mind, and I
began to wonder how one could pray unceasingly, since each man must occupy himself with other matters as well, in order to make a living. I checked in the
Bible and read with my own eyes that which I had already heard: namely, that one should "pray without ceasing," "pray at all times in the
Spirit" [Eph. 6:18], and "in all places pray with uplifted hands" [1 Tim. 2:8]. I thought about this for some time but was unable to understand it.

"What should I do?" I thought to myself. "Where will I find someone who would be able to explain this to me? I will visit some of the churches that are renowned for their excellent preachers, and perhaps there I will be enlightened." So I went and I heard many fine sermons on prayer. However,
they all dealt with prayer in general: what prayer is, the need to pray, and what are the fruits of prayer. Yet nothing was said about how to succeed in prayer. There was a sermon on praying in the Spirit and on unceasing prayer,
but no mention was made about how to attain to such prayer.

Having had my fill of listening, without acquiring any understanding of how to pray unceasingly, I gave up on such sermons that were geared to the general public.
I then resolved, with the help of God, to seek an experienced and knowledgeable guide who would explain unceasing prayer to me, for I now found myself so irresistibly drawn to learning about it.

I
set out and wandered for a long time through different places and faithfully continued to read the Bible. Everywhere I went I inquired as to the local whereabouts of a spiritual director or a devout spiritual guide. Eventually I
was told that in a certain village there was a landowner who had lived there for a long time and who spent all his time working out his salvation. He had a chapel in his own house and never went out, but continually prayed to God and read spiritual literature. When I heard this I gave up walking and took to my heels to get to this village. When I arrived there, I found the gentleman in question. "What is it that you require of me?" he asked.

"I
have heard that you are a man of prayer and wisdom. In the name of God, would you please explain to me the meaning of the Apostle's words, 'Pray unceasingly,' and how one is to pray in this manner? I want to know this, yet I
cannot understand it at all!"

He was silent for some moments. Then he looked closely at me and said,
"Unceasing interior prayer is the continual striving of man's spirit toward God. To succeed in this delightful exercise, you must beseech the Lord more frequently that He teach you how to pray unceasingly. Pray more and ever more earnestly, and the prayer itself will reveal to you how it can become unceasing. This effort will take its own time."

Having said this, he offered me refreshment, gave me money for my journey, and let me go on my way. He did not, after all, provide me with an explanation.

So
I set off again. I continued to think and read and wonder about what that man had told me, and still I could not understand it. Yet my longing for comprehension was so intense that it kept me awake at night.

When
I had covered about 125 miles I came to a large provincial capital, where I saw a monastery. I stopped at the inn and happened to hear that in this monastery there was an exceptionally kind abbot, a prayerful and most hospitable man. I
went to see him, and he welcomed me joyfully, sat me down, and offered me refreshment.

"Holy
Father," I said, "I do not need food, but I seek your spiritual guidance on what I must do to save myself."

"Well,
now—what must you do to save yourself? Live according to the commandments,
pray to God—and you will be saved!"

"I
have heard that one should pray unceasingly, but I do not know how to do this.
I do not even understand what unceasing prayer is. My father, please explain this to me."

"I
don't know, dear brother, how else to advise you. Ah—but wait just a moment! I
do have a little book that will explain it." He brought me
The
Spiritual
Education of the Interior Man,
by
Saint Dimitri. "Here you are—read this page."

I
began to read the following: "Those words of the apostle—'pray without ceasing'—should be understood in reference to the prayer of the mind: for the mind can always aspire to God and pray to Him without ceasing."

"Would you explain to me the means by which the mind can always aspire to God and pray unceasingly, without being distracted?"

"That requires a great deal of wisdom, except for the one to whom God Himself has granted such a gift," said the abbot. He offered no further explanation.

I
spent the night at the monastery. The next morning I thanked him for his kind hospitality and continued on my journey, without really knowing where I was headed. I grieved over my lack of understanding and comforted myself by reading the Holy Bible. Thus I journeyed for five days, keeping to the main road. Finally, one day toward evening, an old man who appeared to be some kind of cleric caught up with me. In answer to my question, he replied that he was a schima monk and lived in a monastery, located some six miles off the main road.
He invited me to come with him, to visit their monastery. "We take in pilgrims," said he, "and we offer them rest and food in the guesthouse, along with other devout people."

I
was reluctant to go with him, so I replied, "My peace of mind does not depend on finding shelter, but rather on obtaining spiritual guidance. I do not need food, for my knapsack is filled with dried crusts of bread."

The monk asked, "What sort of guidance do you seek, and what is it that you do not understand? Come, dear brother, come and visit with us. We have experienced
startsi
who can nourish you spiritually and set you on the path of truth, in the light of
God's Word and the teachings of the Fathers."

"Well,
you see, Batyushka, about a year ago, while at Liturgy, I heard the words of the apostle, exhorting men to 'pray unceasingly.' Unable to understand this, I
began to read the Bible. There, in several different places, I also encountered this same divine instruction: that we must pray unceasingly, always and in all places, not only while occupied with all manner of activity, not only when we are awake, but even while we sleep. 'I sleep but my heart is awake' [Song of
Sol. 5:2]. This surprised me, and I found myself unable to understand how this could be done and by what means it could be achieved. A burning desire and curiosity were aroused in me, and my thoughts dwelt on it day and night. So I
began to visit many different churches and to listen to sermons that spoke about prayer. Yet no matter how many sermons I heard, not one of them provided me with an explanation of how to pray unceasingly. They spoke

only of how to prepare oneself for praying, of the fruits of prayer, and so on; but they did not teach how one is to pray unceasingly and what is the nature of this sort of prayer. I frequently read the Bible to verify what I had heard,
but I have not yet found the knowledge I seek. I am not at peace with myself and am still quite puzzled by all this."

The starets made the sign of the cross over himself and began to speak: "Thank
God, beloved brother, for having awakened in you this irresistible longing to acquire unceasing interior prayer. You must recognize in this the calling of
God. Be at peace and rest assured that until now you have been tested in the cooperation of your will with God's calling and have been granted to understand that neither the wisdom of this world nor mere superficial curiosity can attain to the divine illumination of unceasing interior prayer. On the contrary, it is the humble, simple heart that attains to such prayer, through poverty of the spirit and a living experience of it. So it is not at all surprising that you heard nothing about the very essence of prayer nor acquired any knowledge on how to achieve its unceasing activity.

"To tell the truth, although much has been preached on prayer and much is written about it in the teaching of various writers, they are better equipped to preach about the elements that constitute prayer than about the very essence of it,
because their thoughts are based mostly on speculation and the deliberations of natural reason, rather than on a living experience of prayer. One will offer an exceptional discourse on the necessity of prayer, another on its power and benefits; yet a third will discuss the means to attaining to perfect prayer—the necessity of applied effort, attentiveness, warmth of heart, purity of thought, reconciliation with one's enemies, humility, contrition, and so on.
But what about prayer itself, and how to learn to pray? To these, the most essential and necessary questions of all, very rarely does one obtain any substantial answers from present-day preachers. Such questions are far more difficult for their understanding to grasp than are all those arguments of theirs that I just mentioned, for they require a mystical insight that goes above and beyond mere academic knowledge. And what is even more pathetic is that the vain, natural wisdom of this world compels one to judge the Divine according to human standards. Many people treat prayer in an inverted way,
thinking that it is one's efforts and the preparatory steps that give rise to prayer, rather than the prayer itself giving birth to good works and all the virtues. In this case, they mistakenly see the fruits and resulting benefits of prayer as the means to its end, thereby denigrating the very power of prayer."



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