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Elder Anthony of Optina (Fr Clement Sederholm)


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#1 Michael Stickles

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:08 AM

Title: Elder Anthony of Optina
Author(s): Fr. Clement Sederholm
Publisher: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, Platina, CA, 1994
ISBN: 0-938635-51-4
Pages: 269
Genre: Lives of the Saints
Price: $10.00
Links: Amazon.com; Archangel's Books
Description: Volume II of the Optina Elders series. The life of Elder Anthony (Putilov) of Optina, with a selection of his personal writings and pastoral letters.

#2 Michael Stickles

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:28 AM

Of the lives of the saints I have read, Elder Anthony's story is the one I could most relate to. He comes across to me as more "real" than many of the other saints whose lives I have read.

While many saints are spoken of as "struggling mightily", we are often left without any specific sense of what they struggled with (except perhaps various physical afflictions). Elder Anthony, however, struggled with the responsibilities of the position of Abbot, to the point of repeated and tearful entreaties to be released from this position.

While the lives of saints give us something to aspire to, sometimes it can seem like "you can't get there from here." They just seem to start so far beyond us, or else make some instant leap from the world to sanctity. But with Elder Anthony, we see in his struggles a path from one to the other.

Mike

#3 Ken McRae

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 03:51 AM

Elder Anthony, however, struggled with the responsibilities of the position of Abbot, to the point of repeated and tearful entreaties to be released from this position.


Thank you, Michael, for another interesting review. It is a great book, without question, but I was disappointed by the very small, almost insignificant number of his letters that were included with it. There is one letter I was hoping to find in it, but it was not there, unfortunately. I'm referring to the letter which Professor Bolshakoff mentions, in his book entitled Russian Mystics, wherein St. Anthony Putilov directs his people, as their religious superior, to read The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a'Kempis: "Abbot Anthony Putilov, a monk of Optina and superior of Maloyaroslavetz, was more favorable to Thomas a'Kempis, (than St. Ignatius Brianchaninov was). In one of his letters to the people he directed, he advised them to read it." ( Russian Mystics, pp. 216-217 ) To be honest, I'm not surprised by the translator's decision to ignore that letter. Such a decision is typical of the times in which we live.

Innokenti




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