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The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life
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The Arena: Guidelines for Spiritual and Monastic Life

4.64 of 5 stars 4.64  ·  rating details  ·  47 ratings  ·  9 reviews
One of the most important and accessible texts of Eastern Orthodox Christian teaching on the spiritual life, this book draws upon the ascetic and mystical doctrine of the Greek Fathers and greats of the Orthodox Christian church. In an age alienated from spiritual culture and rooted in materialism, these teachings pose both a challenge and an invitation to those seeking he ...more
ebook, 514 pages
Published August 1st 2012 by Holy Trinity Publications (first published January 28th 1982)
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My edition is c. 1970, published in Madras, India--Diocesan Press. It's the first edition, with an introduction by Archimandrite Kallistos. The book was recommended by an eastern Orthodox acquaintance, but I didn't read it at the time. Then in 2001 a Trappist monk gave me this 1970 copy as a gift. I've been reading and re-reading it ever since. It's wonderful. It not only summarizes much of the best of the desert fathers, it includes stories I've not seen translated into English elsewhere. It's ...more
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
Fr. Thomas Hopko keeps recommending it. It's good so far but I just started it.
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Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov (1807–1867) is a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. He was born Demetrius Alexandrovich Brianchaninov, to a wealthy landowning family. He was educated at Pioneer Military School in St. Petersburg. Although successful in his studies he was deeply dissatisfied with the lay life and turned to a life of prayer.
In 1827 he fell seriously ill and left the army on this gro
More about Ignatius Brianchaninov...
On the Prayer of Jesus Аскетические опыты. Том 1 Despre inselare Отечник Аскетические опыты. Том 2

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“Causes or occasions of sin are the following: wine, women, wealth, health of body when excessive, authority or power, and honor or fame and name. “These,” says St Isaac the Syrian, “are not sins in themselves, but on account of our weakness and as our nature is easily drawn by them to various sins, there is need of peculiar caution in regard to them.”2” 1 likes
“the easiest way of practicing unceasing prayer is to pray the Jesus Prayer, a beginner should apply himself to the Jesus Prayer as often as possible. Do you happen to have a moment free? Do not waste it in idleness! Do not waste it by using it for some impracticable and fatuous castle-building, or for some vain and trivial employment! Use it for the practice of the Jesus Prayer.” 0 likes
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