In the realm of spiritual theology, as in every other dimension of life, we stand on the shoulders of giants. For Orthodox Christians, and for growing numbers of non-Orthodox Christians, the saints and mystics in this book are those giants. In tracing the outlines of their lives and indicating the content of their teaching through extensive quotations from the sources, Sergius Bolshakoff also gives us a history of Russian Orthodoxy and a familiarity with the main currents of Orthodox spirituality generally. Included in this collection are chapters on St. Sergius of Radonezh, St. Nilus of Sora, St. Stephen of Perm, St. Demetrius of Rostov, St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, St. Paisius Velichkovsky and his disciples, St. Seraphim of Sarov, Ignatius Brianchaninov, St. Theophan the Recluse, the Optino elders, St. Silouan the Athonite and St. John of Kronstadt. The introduction by Merton is an interesting example of a Western impression and appreciation of this spiritual world, largely unknown to the West.
An Eighth Day View:
Sergius (Serge) Bolshakoff, both the author and the translator of Russian Mystics, was born in Saint Petersburg in 1901 and died in retirement at the Cistercian abbey of Hauterive, Switzerland, in 1990. His life spanned not only the Russian Revolution and the fall of Communism, but also the Christian Ecumenical Movement, in which he took an active role. Dedicated to the cause of Christian unity throughout his life and intimately familiar with the Orthodox, the Roman Catholic, and the Anglican traditions and their monastic expressions, he was personally acquainted with the great leaders of the ecumenical movement: Pope John XXIII, the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras, Archbishop William Temple of Canterbury, and the abbe Paul Couturier. Exiled from his homeland for most of his life, he lived in England--where he received a doctorate in philosophy from Christ Church, Oxford--or France and traveled and wrote extensively.