Friday, July 25, 2008

Books I've Read(or am reading)-Fifteen: "The Hermitess Photini" by Archimandrite Joachim Spetsieris

(Click on images to greatly enhance)

This book is special for me in several ways.

First of all, I love books like this one that tell the stories of men and women who loved Christ so much that they give up all for the sake of knowing Him.

Stories like this take the Gospel message and put it into the living experience of a fellow human being and by this the Gospel is illumined in a way that is not visible through the reading of text alone. In other words, the Gospel gains a visible body in a story like this and this is a great aid to a man like myself struggling to live the Gospel.

Of course the book is titled "The Hermitess Photini" whom the author Archimandrite Joachim Spetsieris encountered in the wilderness by the Jordan River in the Middle East in the year 1890. I mention this because those inexperienced in the spiritual life(like myself) are prone to read stories like this and draw many conclusions about the spiritual life which may be harmful in their inexperienced hands. She was a hermitess and this station is rarely blessed for individuals as solitude has great dangers inherent in it "It is not good for the man to be alone"(Genesis 2:18).

Photini was longing for a person from "Our Holy Religion" to tell her story to and Father(not Achimandrite at this time) Joachim was the fortunate one to have felt the Grace of the Lord within this holy woman ablaze with love for the Savior.

Father Joachim had many questions for her about the spiritual life and the book is about her telling her story to him and answering his questions.

I myself, by the love and grace of our Lord, was found worthy to more fully understand what it means to "Pray in the Heart" through the reading of this book.

This book is also very special to me because of how it came into my hands to read.

I recently went to Saint Anthony's Greek Orthodox Monastery with a group of friends. Seven of us went. I posted about this trip sometime back. Four of the seven of us were not Orthodox.

At the trip's conclusion I bought everyone something from the bookstore as a memento. One of the men(non-Orthodox) and I had a particularly good connection and speaking of spiritual matters came easily and warmly between us. I bought this book for him as he was asking about The Jesus Prayer. I asked the monk in the bookstore which book he would recommend as my friend was not Orthodox and really not even Christian and I wanted something relatively simple for his reading. The monk gave me this book as a recommendation.

Recently, as some of you know I was hospitalized and this man visited me my first day there. He brought this book with him for me to read. Truly our God is good.


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