In the 1800s an anonymous Russian pilgrim wandered peacefully through Ukraine and Russia. He kept a journal of his journey which was later published under the title The Way of a Pilgrim in English and Candid Narratives of a Pilgrim to His Spiritual Father in Russian.
This Russian pilgrim’s goal was to learn how to practice the “unceasing prayer of the heart.” His method was to continually repeat The Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner,” until it began to automatically and continually run through his heart.
I found his book while browsing in a bookstore several decades ago and it has and continues to strongly impact my life. The Pilgrim’s adventures, struggles, and experiences are both mind-blowing and heart-touching. They fill me with a sense of awe and inner warmth.
His book is so powerful that it inspired me to begin to say The Jesus Prayer. Few days go by that I don’t spend some time saying it over and over and experiencing inner peace and strength. The Pilgrim, himself, was inspired by a 5-volume set of books called The Philokalia which is a collection of writings of ancient Orthodox monks between the 300s and 1800s.
The Philokalia is the most powerful book I’ve ever read (after the Bible). I’m indebted to the Russian Pilgrim for introducing me to it. I wish that every Russian and the whole world would read and follow both it and the Pilgrim’s book.
Now, in the 2000s, Russia has trampled the path of their famous peace pilgrim by invading Ukraine and unleashing cruel death and destruction against both Ukraine’s military and their civilians. They’ve chosen the path of violence rather than The Way of a Pilgrim. Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us all!