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Father Arseny, 1893-1973: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father : Being the Narratives Compiled by the Servant of God Alexander Concerning His Spiritual Father Paperback – December 31, 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Russian
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 277 pages
  • Publisher: St Vladimirs Seminary Pr; 42121st edition (December 31, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0881411809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881411805
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

I read Father Arseny aloud to my 13 year old son, and we both agreed it was one of the best books we have ever read. He begged me to get him his own copy! While I am a recent convert to Eastern Orthodox Christianity, I would've recommended this book to anyone before I knew anything about Orthodoxy.
The chapters all have a ring of truth as they describe the horrible conditions of the prisoners in Stalin's Siberian camps. The stories of how Father Arseny, a former art historian turned Russian Orthodox priest, survived and shared the love of God with his fellow prisoners, including the Communist official who sent him there, are humbling and truly awe inspiring.
The middle section deals with Father Arseny's days following his release from prison, but still during the days of Communist opposition to any underground Christian activity.
The final section introduces the reader to individuals whose lives were incredibly touched by the ministry and faith of Father Arseny.
We in the West need to learn more about what went on behind the Iron Curtain during the Bolshevik years. This book puts a human face on the suffering.
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By A Customer on February 21, 2003
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Orthodox Christians like to tell each other that their church is the "best kept secret" in America. That's one way to make sense of the puzzling fact that, though membership estimates range from three to six million (record-keeping is not the faith's strong suit), the church is mostly invisible. Other Americans might recall going to a Greek wedding once, or seeing Russians troop around their church with candles at midnight, but otherwise have little awareness of this non-Protestant, non-Catholic, Christian body.
Thus, when something big happens in the world of Orthodox publishing, it's mostly unknown outside church circles. Something big happened four years ago, with the publication of "Father Arseny: Priest, Prisoner, Spiritual Father."
This was a translation of a book that had already sold 400,000 copies in Russia, the first open publication of a battered manuscript which had previously circulated only in carbon copy, underground.
American Orthodox immediately recognized "Father Arseny" as a spiritual treasure. The book is a collection of memoirs assembled by someone who calls himself "the servant of God Alexander." The essays describe a Russian priest through the eyes of many who knew him, both during his years in a communist
concentration camp, and in the town where he lived till his death in 1975. Father Arseny's radical compassion and humility embody the distinctive flavor of Orthodox spirituality, and as such his story struck an immediate chord.
For example, the book opens with dawn in the sub-freezing gulag, as the feeble, aging priest struggles to light a fire for the barracks. Clergy were despised by everyone, even other prisoners; Christians were believed to be stupid. Yet in the course of this typical day Fr.
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Father Arseny's life and teachings are truly remarkable in their depth of love, humility and wisdom. Born out of deep physical and spiritual suffering, Father Arseny's life is presented to the reader in vivid accounts by some of those who knew him best (spiritual children and fellow prisoners in the "corrective" prisons). This book is one of the few books that I would say actually changed me deeply with each reading. It sounds ridiculous, but even now, if I only look at it there on my shelf I am edified. It as if Fr. Arseny is here with me, praying for me. Perhaps some of you understand what I mean. That just one person such as himself exists in a decade is enough to witness to the power of Christ in the world.
This books is highly recommended for spiritual edification and growth.
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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.
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