Apostle Paul Bookstore


Touching Heaven: Discovering Orthodox Christianity on the Island of Valaam

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Fr John Oliver






“Deep in the northern Russian forest of jade and brown, far from any hint of civilisation, Valaam Monastery sinks into the seasons of the year as it has for a thousand years before…”
“So begins the story of John Oliver, a young American on a journey of discovery, a journey that leads him to an ancient Russian monastery, a place of peace and a place of struggle. For on Valaam, he encounters the great deaths of Orthodox Christianity and is reminded that the Christian life is not for the faint of heart. And on Valaam, as in our culture, the treasure of stillness requires a fierce guarding.”
Lyrically, eloquent and with great wisdom, this book speaks to the soul. Part spiritual autobiography, part penetrating description of what Orthodox spirituality can and should be, John Oliver’s words evoke in the reader’s mind and heart a longing for God, at once fierce and tender. “Great art, great architecture” he says, “always leads us inward and upward.” This marvellous book does no less. It leads us inward and upward, until, for a moment at least we even touch heaven. — Backcover


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