That a book changes something fundamentaly in ones life is a rare occasion, but this book did that to me. I read the book in the fall 1998 an was moved by it, but nothing more. Than, after a year, I read it again. During this time I had continued my search for my Patron Saint within The Orthodox Church which had been going on for eight years. Suddenly everything fell in their right place. St.Gabriel of Pskov and Kazan(commemorated September 24.(Julian calendar)/October 7.(Gregorian calendar)) was to be my Patron Saint. I won't go into any details, but the shining love of this Holy Elder is a lasting impression. And the love of God for the love of one's neighbour was the Gospel of this Starets. It should also be noted that the author, New Martyr Fr. Simeon a saint himself, was not only St.Gabriel spiritual son, but also took over the Eldership after the Elders repose in 1915. The author therefore knew the Elder Gabriel very well and so did many people still alive when the book was first published in Russia in 1917. Thanks to this we can regard theses accounts as highly reliable. And the strange occurances of how this book was refound and published again is a mystery I leave to the happy reader to find out for him- or herself in it's Foreword and Introduction. I highly recommend this book to everybody!
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience Romans 5:3
In your patience possess ye your souls Luke 21:19
St. Gabriel, of Pskov-Eleazar and Kazan Monastery (October 7, / September 24) was born into a pious Russian family. From a young age, the teachings of the Church made a great impression on this Saint, and his yearning for the Lord only grew stronger as he grew up which eventually led to his entry into the famous Optina Monastery. He was not to remain there though, and transferred to various other monasteries around Moscow and Russia, always leaving a mark on the lives of others.
This holy Saint had two crosses to bear - one was from the opposition he faced from other monks within the monasteries he inhabited, mainly out of jealousy for the spiritual gifts with which he was endowed by the grace of God, and the other was the debilitating illness with which he suffered throughout his life and which at one stage left him bedridden for five years. Throughout his life and despite the heavy cross that he bore, St Gabriel remained a man of great prayer, patience and love. For this reason, he was gifted by God with acts of healing others - both in soul and body, together with spiritual insight into the resolution of peoples' problems. In line with so many other Saints and holy people of old, St Gabriel drew those with a humble disposition to him for healing and help in their struggles.
This is a remarkable book, which once again shows the grace and love of the Lord working in those who are willing to bear their cross with strength and patience. It will appeal to anyone who has suffered, either at the hands of others or who have some form of illness illustrating how we ought to bear all with patience and humility in the hope of God's help and providence, as did this holy Saint.
In the words of His Grace Archbishop Lazar Puhalo:
"When we look at stories such as One of the Ancients or Beloved Sufferer (both by St Herman Press), we see examples of severely mentally ill persons being taken as holy elders or spiritual mothers. It is always amazing to see how many people are willing to allow their spiritual agendas or religious ideas to be set for them by people who are clearly operating under the burden of severe mental illness. Often the "dreams" that are referred to as verification of some idea or teaching are clearly hallucinations, and sometimes could even be traced to ergot toxin in the rye grain that was such a staple of the diet in many places (ergot fungus on rye grain is the source of LSD). We will repeat what we have often said before: a spirituality which could be treated with psychotropic medicines cannot possibly be authentic or meaningful.