This book offers the reader a glimpse of the spiritual experience of the Christian East through the sayings of fifty Orthodox saints. These saints came from different parts of the Christian world, including Egypt, Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, and Syria. In addition, the book includes sayings from the Western Church, including saints from France and Italy.
St. Anthony of Optina
One of St. Anthony of Optina’s sayings is that he was a man who waited patiently for God to heal him. He endured his physical illness with faith, and he believed that sickness was a gift from God to save souls. Despite his physical ailments, he attended all church services and ate with his fellow brethren. Despite this, his legs became covered with sores. Father Anthony hoped to stay at Optina until he died, but in 1839 he was transferred to a monastery in Maloyaroslavets.
Father Anatoly had a gift of healing. He would bring the sick to holy places so that they could be healed. He once gave his Spiritual Daughter a pear to give to her sick brother. The spiritual daughter went and found her brother, who was very ill. She gave him the pear, which he ate in small pieces. After eating the pear and wearing her cassock, he recovered.
In addition to the sayings that St. Anthony of Optina made, the elder Ambrose was also a prophet. He was a man of great spirituality and had the ability to read the hearts of human beings. He also had the power to know the past, present, and future. His words contained the revealed word of God. People from all over Russia would flock to Optina to hear his words. Many famous Russian writers visited the monastery.
Elder Anthony’s sayings also teach that the most important task is to be humble and respectful of others. He was the Superior and Elder of the Optina Hesychast Skete. He was a man of many qualities: a compassionate, tender heart. The Optina Skete quickly became a popular spiritual retreat.
Father Anthony returned to the monastery in February 1853 and was given a cell next to Fr. Moses. Despite his physical ailments, he took part in the activities of the monastery. He never complained of his sufferings. In his spare time, Father Anthony devoted himself to reading. His favorite reading materials included Holy Scripture and writings of the Fathers. He also read spiritual and historical books. As a result, his library contained over 2,000 books.