Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Great Book: 'The Ascetic of Love'

What a wonderful book! Maybe I just read it at the right time, I don't know, but it's made an incredible impression on me.

First, I got the book in the most extraordinary way. It was shortly before Christmas and at the end of Greek class one day, a Romanian monk from Mt. Athos stopped by to meet me and see if he could be of assistance in my upcoming visit to the Holy Mountain with RM. When I got out of class, my teacher and I went to meet him (he was a former student of the same teacher -- she arranged the meeting), and he was already speaking with the woman who is in charge of the School of Modern Greek. "She loves the Church," my teacher told me.

I spoke with this woman for a few minutes about the difficulties of learning Greek, going to Mt. Athos, etc., and then suddenly she said, "Oh wait! Come up to my office!" There she gave me this book, all wrapped. This book is distributed by a church bookstore here in Thessaloniki and she was in there shopping one day when she noticed this English translation. She had liked the book so much that she said something told her she had to buy this English translation, and that God would send someone to her at some point who needed it. I was this person apparently.
I was quite moved by this, and now I am quite moved by the book. This should be required reading! For Orthodox, it's a very different sort of story of sanctity than we're used to -- and it's made me rethink some ideas I had.

When RM was here, we stopped by this bookstore and bought 5 copies for the church bookstore in Spokane. They just got in a new, updated 3rd edition which supposedly has smoothed some of the English (although I find that the 2nd edition I have is fine, especially compared with other 'translations' I've endured).

I'm not sure if this book is available in the US. If not, and you would like it, let us know ASAP and we'll arrange to send some to the US for you. Pelagia is coming for a three-week visit to Washington at the end of the month, so she may be able to bring some stateside then, if there's interest.

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