Mankind has become so earthbound! People have quite forgotten that this life of ours is the path to eternity and a preparation for it: they get excited and worked up in this vale of tears. You meet very few with whom you can talk about the one thing needful.
So writes this saintly Russian elder in one of his many letters from his monastery in Valaamo, his home for over fifty years. To this monk, who died in 1958, "the one thing needful" is God, and the path to God is "prayer unceasing." Through prayer man can once again get in touch with his heart, the core of his being, wherein the dwelling place of God is truly to be found. He urges his friends throughout his writings always to have hope, gentleness and patience, and to pray for others rather than condemn them.
These letters, so steeped in wisdom and humility, ring with a rare depth and simplicity. They are the letters of a true contemplative and spiritual guide, who is able to rejoice in God's love in the midst of an increasingly materialistic world. He is able to trust fully in Him, and to discern in all the circumstances of life, no matter how humble or seemingly commonplace, a dimension of eternity.
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