The Elders of Optina Monastery have had a tremendous impact on Russian society, calling forth a nationwide blossoming of sanctity. During the course of a century, their prophecy and God-illumined counsel attracted spiritual seekers from far and wide.
Among the first Optina Elders was Elder Anthony (Putilov) (1795–1865), who, together with his brother Elder Moses, came to Optina after living for years in silence and prayer in a remote forest. Enduring terrible hardships and excruciating physical ailments, Elder Anthony acquired perfect spiritual freedom through the careful guarding of his soul and the acceptance of God's providence. He remained joyful to the end, filled with an unconquerable inner peace and with tender compassion for all who came to him. His life and writings breathe this same peace. The reader is involuntarily drawn into the quiet, restful atmosphere of Elder Anthony's beautiful soul, learning there the meaning of the lofty virtue of humble-mindedness.
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