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“The salvation of the soul, concerning which you ask me, cannot be made easy except by a true spiritual instructor, one who forces himself first of all to fulfill all the commandments of the Lord, in accordance with the word of the Lord—‘whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven’ (Matt 5:19).”
—St. Paisius Velichkovsky
Many people today know of the Philokalia, a compilation of mystical, ascetic texts from the ancient Christian tradition which contain teachings on unceasing prayer, interior silence, unseen warfare, and prayer of the heart. Few, however, know of the spiritual Elder who discovered these lost teachings after a painstaking search, and who devoted the rest of his life to disseminating them, putting them into practice, and helping other spiritual seekers to attain union with God through them. This man was Blessed Paisius Velichkovsky (1722–1794).
“We who are hardened with many sins and preyed upon by passions are unworthy of hearing such words. Nevertheless, placing our hope in the grace of God, we are encouraged to keep the words of the holy writings in our minds…. ”
—St. Nilus of Sora, 16th Century
“Do you hear, O Orthodox Christians of these last times? These writings of the Holy Fathers, even those dealing with the highest form of spiritual life, have been preserved for us, so that even when it might seem that there are no God-bearing elders left at all, we may still have the unerring words of the Holy Fathers to guide us in leading a God-pleasing and zealous life.”
—from the Introduction by Fr. Seraphim Rose
Having lived at the beginning of the modern age, Blessed Paisius has supplied us with a blueprint on how to live like the ancient holy ones even while in the midst of the contemporary atmosphere of confusion, despair, and abandonment of the truth. Today his legacy—brought to America by St. Herman and other monks from the Russian monastery of Valaam, and preserved and cultivated through the eldership of Optina Monastery—is more timely and needed than ever before.
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