16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Even with problems, it's perfect...,
This review is from: Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father : Being the Narratives Compiled by the Servant of God Alexander Concerning His Spiritual Father (Paperback)
I am wary of those who write about a book that it "changed their lives" or that "it is a book every person should have to read." In most cases, these are heavy exaggerations and over-dramatic praises. However, I must admit that this book falls into both of these categories. "Father Arseny" is not a perfect book; the translation (from Russian) is imperfect and the chapters are mostly very scattered, not having anything to do with one another. I was hoping for a chronological biography; instead I got many stories broken into 3 sections, the last with some stories which don't even make note of Father Arseny except when mentioning the fact that the people in the story later met Father Arseny or were his spiritual children. However, the impact some of the chapters have - both of the priest and of his spiritual children - is so deep, one does not want the book to end.
The first part of the book describes Father Arseny's time in a Soviet gulag and the many miracles which were performed through him. One of these stories in particular - that of Fr. Arseny and the prisoner Alexei in a cell for three days in -22 degree weather - is so miraculous, it alone makes the book worth picking up. Another - that of the woman being saved by the Mother of God from being raped - also has a profound affect on the reader. These are just two of the many stories which I will never forget, and which I will return to to read again many times in my life.
Mainly, this book taught me two things: First, I find that I see faith in everyone now. The Light of faith exists in all people, even if only a spark. The other main thing this book gave me was a much deeper and poignant respect, love, and trust in the Theotokos; some of the stories are as much or more about her than they are about Father Arseny.
Orthodox or not, I would recommend this book to anyone. Without a doubt, it will make that aforementioned spark of faith grow, and keep it burning for years to come.
(be sure to pick up the second Father Arseny book as well, "Father Arseny: A Cloud of Witnesses")