Way of a Pilgrim
The Way of a Pilgrim
"The Way of a Pilgrim" is a classic but anonymous work of Russian spirituality (a.k.a "the Way of the Pilgrim") which has charmed countless readers with its tale of a nineteenth-century peasant seeking the truth with simple humility, finding joy in the practice of the "Jesus Prayer." This repetitive prayer, traditional in the Christian East, centers on the holy name of Jesus and enables the pilgrim to fulfill the seemingly impossible command of St. Paul in I Thessalonians 5:17 to "pray always."
This book is at once both entertaining and edifying. Anyone who has ever appreciated the word of Dostoevsky or Tolstoy will be delighted with the vision of 19th century Russia that emerges from this book. Yet at the same time, the very practical teaching on the Jesus prayer is very much able to be appropriated by those living a very different lifestyle in a much more hectic, even frantic age.
Don't miss this classic! It should be read at least once by any serious Christian, Eastern or Western, Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. Guaranteed to refresh you and deepen your relationship with God if you make the least attempt to put some of its simple yet profound teaching into practice.
As an added bonus, there are substantial extracts included in the appendix from another and deeper Eastern classic, the Philokalia, which is a collection of the highlights of the writings of the Greek Fathers and Eastern Christian spiritual masters on prayer and union with God.
The way of prayer taught by this book is endorsed by the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated by Pope John Paul II:
2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners." It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican Lk 18:9-14 and the blind men begging for light.Matt. 9:27 By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior's mercy.
2668 The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases, but holds fast to the word and "brings forth fruit with patience." This prayer is possible "at all times" because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus."
- "We must pray literally without ceasing - without ceasing; in every occurrence and employment of our lives. You know I mean that prayer of the heart which is independent of place or situation, or which is, rather, a habit of lifting up the heart to God, as in a constant communication with Him."
- Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton -
About the Translator and
HELEN BACOVCIN is a translator living and working in New Jersey. The author of this edition's introduction, WALTER J. CISZEK, S.J. (1904–1984), spent twenty-three years in the Soviet Gulag and is now being considered for canonization in the Roman Catholic Church.
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