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How to Live a Holy Life (Metropolitan Gregory of St. Petersburg)


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#1 Michael Stickles

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:17 AM

Title: How to Live a Holy Life
Author(s): Metropolitan Gregory (Postnikov) of St. Petersburg
Publisher: Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, NY, 2005
ISBN: 0-88465-089-8
Pages: 150
Sub-Genre: Orthodox Life
Price: $12.00
Links: Archangel's Books
Description: From ArchangelsBooks.com: Translated from the Russian language, this new title is presented as a concise "manual of piety" for the serious layman in search of salvation amidst the pitfalls of this modern world. Full of practical advice, yet breathing a spirit of deep spirituality and watchfulness, it does not simply offer instructions as to what to do, but guides the reader in the work of constantly living a life of purity before God, "Who is in all places, and fills all things."

#2 Michael Stickles

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Posted 14 August 2008 - 02:53 AM

This book is an extremely practical guide for living as an Orthodox Christian. Metropolitan Gregory walks you by the hand through a normal day, with specific advices for how to conduct oneself:

- in the morning;
- in relation to the Lord God;
- in relation to other people;
- in some of the most common situations of life (happiness, misfortune, wealth, poverty, when praised, when slandered, in illness, and when confronted by bad examples);
- in our daily work;
- during meals;
- during rest after lunch;
- in the evening;
- before sleep; and
- during sleeplessness at night.

There are also separate chapters on prayer and on conduct on Sundays. The book concludes with a short biography of Metropolitan Gregory.

The advices given are very simple, concrete, and practical, and there are many of them. Metropolitan Gregory does not just say what to do, he also frequently provides the why, the reasons why the actions prescribed are beneficial to our souls. Many of them are what I like to call "retroactively obvious", things which I never thought of before, but seem completely obvious once I've heard of them.

While these advices are simple, however, that does not mean they are easy. In fact, I have found the simplest prescriptions to often be the most difficult to follow. As an example, one of the first ones he mentions is probably the simplest - namely, if you wake up at or near the time you're supposed to, then say a short prayer, cross yourself, and get out of bed. Yet I go 0-for-3 on this one with distressing regularity (usually replacing it with "utter a short groan, roll over, and go back to sleep").

The best protection against pride and "delusions of grandeur" I can think of is to remember that Christ said "If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?" (Luke 12:26), and then read this book and try to faithfully practice the "very little things" written in it. Even if you try and fail, try and fail (as I do), there is still profit in making the attempt.

In Christ,
Michael

#3 Ken McRae

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Posted 20 August 2008 - 03:44 PM

The best protection against pride and "delusions of grandeur" I can think of is to remember that Christ said "If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?" (Luke 12:26), and then read this book and try to faithfully practice the "very little things" written in it. Even if you try and fail, try and fail (as I do), there is still profit in making the attempt.


Many thanks for another good review. All who would aspire to do great things must first learn to be faithful in the performance of humble or little things. If we cannot prove ourselves faithful in the humble, or comparably insignificant things, how could we ever hope to prove ourselves faithful in that which is truly great and heroic, by comparison? It staggers the mind to think of it, to be sure, but Christ did say that many of his disciples would do even greater things than Himself. O, the Divine Mystery of it! There is a ladder, though, or a stairway leading up to heaven, and we all must start the arduous climb with the first step or first rung on the ladder.

Perhaps you are like myself in this regard, that when I am in a hurry, and need to climb a set of stairs, like those in my house, for example, I will often run up the stairs, skipping over every second step. This will absolutely not do or suffice when climbing the stairway to heaven. We must climb ever so slowly, making sure of every step, not skipping anything, as though we were climbing Mt. Everest itself! One fatal step could see us plummet to our deaths. So, may we learn to be divinely content with humble things and mastering each little step of "the Way," not trying in any way to rush or skip up the mountain path, as though there were nothing to fear.

Edited by Ken McRae, 20 August 2008 - 04:39 PM.
To change a typo, which formerly read as 'stairway to way,' to say 'stairway to heaven,' as it was meant to be.





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