The Church At Prayer: The Mystical Liturgy of the Heart
|Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra|
|Indiktos Distributed by Greece in Print (2005)|
|1 copy available|
|This is the first in a series of books comprised of extracts of Elder Aimilianos’ previously published series “Spiritual Instructions and Discources.” Each is subject specific and comprised an abridged and more accessible form of his teaching, in a smaller and more reader-friendly publication format. The works in this volume focus on prayer, spirituality, community life, worship and liturgy. Specifically, included are: “On Prayer,” “The Prayer of the Holy Mountain,” “The Divine Liturgy,” “Our Church Attendance,” “Our Relations with Our Neighbor,” “Marriage: The Great Sacrament,” “Spiritual Reading,” and “The Spiritual Life. Paperback; 165 pages.|
|Review By: Fr Apostolos Hill
As we Orthodox readers get older and, in our harried age, more time-pressed, we find ourselves reaching for volumes of less bulk and more impact. For those of us who effectively “read” our way into Orthodoxy from one of the other western faith traditions there comes a point when all of the theology we may have read over the early years needs to be applied in a real and transformative way. And so it is that great thanks and praise to God must be offered for the publication of “The Church At Prayer; The mystical liturgy of the heart” by Archimandrite Aimilianos of Simonopetra Monastery of Mount Athos. In 163 gripping and easily readable pages Elder Aimilianos cuts through the fog and confusion all too common in our time when heterodox faith traditions are radically re-inventing themselves and re-thinking long-settled bedrock points of Orthodox Christian doctrine. So far, this is the type of thing I might be expected to say in a review such as this. But there is a visceral element to the Elder’s writings that slices like a laser-beam through our often unconscious attempts at obfuscation. Take the chapter on Marriage, The Great Sacrament; Elder Aimilianos writes like a wise older brother or perhaps a favorite uncle who feels perfectly free to “call a spade a spade” and speak truth in a very loving and yet irresistable way. As a parish priest I recently came across a copy of this chapter from a parishioner who was fortunate enough to come into a copy of this book some time ago and have since distributed it to each couple seeking pre-marital counseling in my office. Elder AImilianos de-constructs the many modern fallacies surrounding our less-informed and more sentimental views of marriage with all the subtlety of a construction foreman with a sledge-hammer! The book would easily be worth purchasing for this chapter alone. But then one considers the Elder’s chapter On Prayer, where he at once exposes the absolute ridiculousness of our impoverished attempts to approach the throne of the transcendent God and the immeasurable mercy of Christ who listens to us anyway and gives us strength for the effort whereby we overcome our utter inability to even frame the words appropriate to God and brings prayer alive in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. It might be going too far to say that one cannot begin to understand the nature of prayer without having read this chapter but I believe that Elder Aimilianos’ potent words are sorely needed in our time. And every chapter in this short volume has something to offer. Elder Aimilianos writes with a presence that is gentle, earthy, understandable, and greatly encouraging. He uses examples from his own colorful life to illustrate daunting spiritual truths that might otherwise remain hidden and hard to comprehend and one can only wonder what it must have been like to sit at his feet and receive his sage counsel before his repose. This is not a book one buys, reads once, and puts aside having gotten the gist of the author’s intent. The copies of The Church At Prayer I have seen in the hands of those who have had it for even a few months are as dog-eared and hi-lited as my ancient volume of Athanasius, and this is as it should be. Simply put, the serious Orthodox reader cannot be without this book and Orthodox priests will find this to be of immeasurable worth in pastoral counseling sessions and in their own life of prayer. Buy this book! Buy it now and thank God that it has become available once again!