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Turning the Heart to God Paperback – February 1, 2001


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian

About the Author

St. Theophan the Recluse is a Church Father for modern times. An Orthodox Christian Bishop and foremost theologian from Russia whose life spanned almost the entire 19th century (1815 - 1894), St. Theophan was a very prolific writer whose works were widely read by all segments of the population. Deeply immersed in the teachings of the ancient Fathers and the wisdom of the desert, St. Theophan wrote for the modern reader, addressing the issues of modern life, and writing especially for those people who were not so immersed in the life of the Church and its teachings and practices.

Fr. Ken Kaisch is an ordained Episcopal priest and a licensed clinical psychologist. He was first introduced to the writings of St. Theophan over twenty-five years ago and has long admired the depth and clarity of Theophan’s thought. Fr. Ken and his wife spent their 25th wedding anniversary on a pilgrimage to holy places in Russia in 1994. There they met Igumen Iona, who agreed to help them in their pilgrimage and to translate for them. Towards the end of their pilgrimage, on the train to Yaroslavl, the two conceived of the idea of translating St. Theophan’s major work, The Way of Salvation, into English. The present book is the second of this three-volume work. Fr. Ken has several publications to his credit. Paulist Press published Finding God: A Handbook of Christian Meditation in 1994. University Press of America published another book, God in Russia: The Challenge of Freedom, in 1999.

Igumen Iona Zhiltsov is a Russian hiero-monk from the city of Vladimir. He converted to Christianity during the Soviet era as the result of reading a samidzat copy of the letters of St. John. He was tutored in theology by the Bishop of Vladimir and was ordained. After his afternoon tutorials, Igumen Iona was regularly picked up by the KGB and interrogated. He was finally sent by his bishop to Estonia to avoid arrest by the KGB. When he returned to Russia, he went to the Pskov Caves monastery outside of Pskov and was a student of Father Zenon, perhaps the foremost iconographer of the modern era. More recently, Igumen Iona has been attending seminary in Moscow to acquire the theological tools which were denied him under the soviets. He is a fluent English speaker, and very familiar with St. Theophan’s writings in Russian.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 131 pages
  • Publisher: Conciliar Press Ministries Inc. (February 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888212225
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888212228
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Alan B. Cicco on July 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot say enough about this title. Saint Theophan is a master of writing down how to transform oneself into a vehicle for Christian salvation. He walks you through the process of first awakening to the call to become a Christian. Then setting the mind on the path of sensing the desire to transform your life and finally walking the path. It is not easy nor simple as one thinks. It takes tremendous self determination and desire to become that which most don't seek and avoid if they can because of the lure of sin in one's life.

Theophan talks about the wages of sin in our life and how we live in a daze of sleepy ignorance while following a self serving philosophy. When we decide to live in accordance with God we find that we must take on a burdeon far greater than first thought. We must change at our very core and he explains those transformations and how we deepen our commitment to God and his plan for our life.

Thepohan's use of spoken word to explain and correct our misunderstandings about our views and personal agenda in how we live outside God's real purpose for our complete deliverance from sin and ignroance is beyond excellent. It truly brings across the message in blantant and open manner that creates a perfect method of moving from sin towards grace. It perfetly uses a concrete written form to explain something so abstract as total spiritual transformation to where you feel your very being moving towards grace with each word.

Among the great saints Theophan is given the a title richly deserved by his very personal account of the path towards salvation. This book is one that I can read over and over again gleaming more each time. This title is one that should be given to anyone thinking about taking on the role as a Christian and transforming their lives in accordance to the Way of Christ.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By jodie wilson on December 19, 2010
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I was glad to find I could follow this material and not be overwhelmed by the depth of what I was taking in. By covering thins in the format that is used I get the most I could possibly take in chapter by chapter.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nance Seile on October 19, 2014
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This is a wonderful book about the life of Saint Theophan who started his spiritual path early in life and became a recluse. This book I will read again and again. Highly recommended for those on a serious spiritual path.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Collins on June 8, 2014
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For me, this little book describes the central tenets of Christianity and is a must,must read for any serious Christian.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin Cabe on July 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
Turning the Heart to God is a partial translation of Saint Theophan's larger work, The Path to Salvation: A Manuel of Spiritual Transformation. Before reading either of these books it is important to consult your Spiritual Father, as they can be easily misunderstood and misapplied which could lead to demonic delusion. Turning the Heart to God is a book that details varying spiritual conditions, how to recognize them, and how they are healed--this being the case, it must be noted that it is extremely dangerous to preform surgery on yourself and it is thus necessary to have a Spiritual Father to consult before, during, and after reading this book.

A Short Biography of Saint Theophan the Recluse
Saint Theophan the Recluse, born in 1815, just after the Napolean's invasion of Russia in 1812, found himself in the middle of a cultural transition.1 Several years after being ordained a hieromonk (a monk who is also a priest) in 1841, Saint Theophan travelled to Jerusalem where he helped establish a Russian ecclesiastical presence.2 Over the next six years he learned Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and French, studied the Church Fathers, and stayed in several monasteries on Mount Sinai and Mount Athos. In 1855 he was "raised to the rank of archimandrite"3. Two years later he became the rector of St. Petersburg Theological Academy and two years after that the Bishop of Tambov (1859). Bishop Theophan would later be transferred to oversee the Diocese of Vladimir and Suzdal (1863) and become Father Superior of the Visha Hermitage (1866).4 Regardless of his rapid increase in rank and responsibility, Bishop Theophan's main desire was to live a simple life of seclusion. In 1872 this desire was realized. From then until the end of his life in 1894 he only received a handful of visitors.
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