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The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism
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The Arena: An Offering to Contemporary Monasticism

4.71 of 5 stars 4.71  ·  rating details  ·  41 ratings  ·  8 reviews
This is a classic text that offers many treasures for seekers of the spiritual life today. Subjects covered include unceasing prayer, the need for spiritual direction and the importance of Divine meditation. Translated into English by Father Lazarus Moore from the original Russian edition published in 1867. It encapsulates the legacy of St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov) as it w ...more
Paperback, 299 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Holy Trinity Publications (first published January 28th 1982)
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More like a 4.5

Great read. Written by a Russian Orthodox monk/bishop from about a century ago. Great spiritual insight. The only annoyance is that the 2nd half of the book is just a repeat of the first half. The first half is so great that it makes up for it, in my opinion.
Ryan Harbry
Perhaps the best book on Christian spirituality and Christian theology that I have ever read. It came highly recommend to me by someone who I love and admire in the faith, and it exceeded every expectation that I brought to it. I would never suggest it as an introduction to someone new, or interested in, Orthodox Christianity. There are better books for this. But for those who are truly interested in living the faith, in maturing in the faith, these will find in Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov's wo ...more
This is the kind of book I never finish reading. I have to put it down and "chew" on what I have read for days or weeks or months before returning for another bite. Excellent writing and seemingly good translation from Russian into English.

Although targeted toward Russian Orthodox monastics, there is much here that I believe the layperson will be able to take and use as he develops spiritually over his lifetime.

At times terrifying as Bp. Ignatius speaks of death and the hereafter, and comforting
This was recommended to me by my spiritual father. It was ok, but it felt very harsh to me. There is a lot of good in it, but it seemed to be geared towards monastics, not the average layperson. I was kind of put off by it. Perhaps it was above my measure at the time, and maybe if I read it at a later date it would be more profitable - it might have been too early in my walk to be of benefit.
I first read this a dozen years ago in the first English edition, with the first twenty pages mixed up :-) It was still a simple, sober, realistic introduction to a life of guarding the thoughts and living within the life of the Church. Now I've just received this attractive new edition, and I look forward to revisiting it.
As spiritually challenging as the Ladder, the Arena offers great insight into what modern monasticism, and the call of Christ looks like on the monastic both in the monastery and in the world.
Matthew Reed
Dec 20, 2008 Matthew Reed marked it as to-read
Fr. Thomas Hopko keeps recommending it. It's good so far but I just started it.
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“The punishment pronounced by God has also a spiritual meaning. Indeed, God’s decree respecting man’s punishment is as truly fulfilled in a spiritual as in a material manner.2 By the term earth or ground the holy Fathers understood the heart. Just as the earth, on account of the curse, does not cease to produce from its injured nature thorns and thistles, so the heart poisoned by sin does not cease to give birth to sinful thoughts and feelings from its own injured nature. Just as no one troubles about the sowing and planting of weeds, but perverted nature produces them automatically, so sinful thoughts and feelings are conceived and spring up of their own accord in the human heart. In the sweat of one’s brow material bread is obtained. With intense labor of soul and body the heavenly bread is sown that secures eternal life in the human heart; with intense labor it grows, is gathered and harvested, is rendered fit for use, and is kept.” 0 likes
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