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Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer (Madonna House Classics Vol.1)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  288 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Poustinia: Encountering God in Silence, Solitude and Prayer

The renowned modern spiritual classic!

Catherine Doherty brings readers the profound traditions of Christian spirituality surrounding the Russian word poustinia, which means desert. Catherine combines her insights into the great spiritual traditions of the Russian Church with her very personal experience of life w

Paperback, 199 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Madonna House Publications (first published 1975)
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Feb 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to booklady by: Jennifer D
After spending several un-quiet weeks with this profoundly quiet book, I think/hope it is finally starting to exert a positive influence over my life. A ‘poustinia’—for those who may not be familiar with the term is a Russian word—literally translates, “desert”, but actually means many different things depending on how it is used. It can describe quiet, lonely places, set apart from the world where special people go to seek God and live out their lives in prayer and solitude. It is also the word ...more
Aug 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Human beings
Of the utmost importance. I would like to buy a crate full of volumes of this book. I would hand them out to everyone and say, "go find a silent hole and read man." ...more
Fr. Peter Mottola
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Catherine Doherty offers insights into the contemplative life from a Russian perspective. Much of what she has to say is very good, but I have two strong criticisms. The first is that the book is too long by half. It is divided into four parts, and there is nothing said in the third and fourth that had not already been communicated in the first two. The other is that I fundamentally disagree with her repeated assertions that the Russian notion of contemplation is so very different than (and supe ...more
Jan 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
For the last few years I have been talking and writing a great deal about silence, solitude, and deserts, and I will continue to write about them because I think they are vitally important to our growing, changing, technological, urban civilization. It is obvious that humanity is facing many problems, will have to face many more, and that these problems are deeply disturbing the souls of all men. It is just as certain that we cannot, must not, reject the new, strange, adventuresome, frightening ...more
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Another of my 'recovery' books. This books bears re-reading. It is a search into silence; God's silence and how to find it even when one is not a monastic type.

Doherty's style is compelling and really draws one into what she is saying.
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
All (5?) of these are worth reading

Why doesn't Goodreads had a re-read category?

Have just re-read Poustinia.......

There is something in this book that really speaks to me.......

Will be re-reading the others in this series.......
Jul 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I'll let you know when I'm finished, but at this point, this book has done more to awaken me to the seriousness of the Christian responsibility than any other book has. ...more
Dec 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
A splendid introduction to Russian Orthodox spirituality for those who may be unfamiliar with the tradition.
May 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The book that changed my life forever. Literally.
Jacob Knepper
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very beautiful and simple book. It shows through Catherine Doherty that God is found in the desert, but the desert takes a certain kenosis, or emptying of ourselves, to enter. Not only can the desert be a physical place we enter (a place of solitude and silence), but there can also be a desert of the heart. Very important book for all who seek closeness with God and who desire to love men as God lobes them!
Nov 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read while I was staying in a hermitage for 3 days. So powerful in my time of silence with God!
Ann Yeong
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Although I have known of Catherine Doherty for a while, I had never felt drawn to find out more about her until I came across Thomas Merton's description of her in The Seven Storey Mountain. Curious about the woman who had so deeply impressed Thomas Merton and whose description had also impressed and intrigued me, I started reading up about her and eventually purchased this book to read her in her own voice.

This is a book of unvarnished and simple truths about encountering God in "the desert" (i
Terje Fokstuen
Feb 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Poustinia is a Russian word signifying desert, and in Russian Orthodoxy it is accepted practice for those called, to leave their life and to seek God in such a desert. These deserts are usually humble cottages where the poustinik prays, reads the Bible and seeks God's will.

The author Catherine Doherty is a Russian emigre to Canada, and a convert to Catholicism. Here she explains the idea of the Poustinia, charts her own journey as a Poustinik, and draws out anecdotes from the Catholic Poustinia
Elyse Hayes
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Listened to this on CD. Intriguing and lovely. Mystical , a bit rambling. So deep, I can't say I absorbed it all. But it is excellent Lenten reading. About spiritual deserts, physical or interior, and seeking God there. She is a fascinating woman. Somewhat akin to Dorothy Day. Converted from Russian Orthodox to Catholic. But very Eastern in her spirituality. Sought out the poor, chose to live with them and help them. Russian aristocrat who survived the revolution, got to England, then settled in ...more
Rod White
Mar 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: prayer
This was an interesting invitation to meditation and I took it. She had me praying in ways I needed to pray. It was interesting to have the Russian practices of solitude highlighted. For those things I recommend it. Unfortunately, I had to overlook how much the book was about Catherine Doherty as she told her story. It seemed a bit too much about Catherine and I am not sure she warranted such scrutiny.
Lucy Casey
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Somehow I encountered this book. Now having read it it am convinced that the Holy Spirit led me to it. It has transformed the way I view my life and prayer entirely. I have read many books on prayer but learning about the Poustinia of the Heart has left me in tears of joy and experiencing a deeper peace than I ever thought possible. I can’t recommend this book enough.
Sep 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Catherine de Hueck Doherty comes from Russia. In here second marriage she came to Ontario and founded Madonna House a spiritual center. This book is really about her life and spirituality after founding this spiritual center. It is a book of Christian spirituality of the East for Western man. It has a lot of very good wisdom and is worth the read.
Rachael Tvrdy
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book will always be in my top five. It came into my life at the right moment (literally held out my hand in the dark and asked God to guide me to a book the first night I arrived as a lay volunteer at a retreat house in Scotland). This book taught me how to pray.
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Even for those who do not consider themselves " the silent type," this book is an important read. It exposes the cultural deficit of space and place necessary to our relationship with God and healthy interiority. ...more
Sylvia Jeronimo
May 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
From the first sentence to the last , this book was dry. I was constantly trying to enter into a conversation that felt circular and disjointed. How many times can you use the word ‘Poustinia’ in a paragraph?
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
Definitely not a writer, but very much a spiritual person. I enjoyed her reflections on the dark night of the soul, though much less so her style of writing.

Worth a read if you wish to enter into poustinia one day, but not the best spiritual writing out there.
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of the wisest books I've read in a long time.
Tommy Logan
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing. Transformational. Need to re-read. And soak.
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Marvellous - the most read book by one of my favourite spiritual teachers.
Paul Uwemedimo
Excellent book calling us to deep prayer and solitude. I have not read it for many years but I think it is past time for me to reread it once again. It's message is very important for me. ...more
Kathi Klann
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Ilvr his book. Probably read it twenty times!
Reminds me that simplified is better for my soul.and serenity!

Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tc16
Helpful aid to a practice of solitude and silence as vocation

An interesting account about how a historically Russian spiritual practice was brought to North America by the author. Part memoir part how-to.
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020
Catherine drawing on what she learned as a child has a wonderful effect on her ministry and her love of humanity. This book filled with stories and heart-wrenching moments will move us all to a life of justice and peace.
Paige Hester
rated it it was ok
Feb 19, 2018
Craig Scandrett-Leatherman
rated it really liked it
May 18, 2017
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Goodreads Librari...: Add edition please 4 12 Mar 14, 2020 09:55AM  

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Ekaterina Fyodorovna Kolyschkine Doherty, better known as Catherine Doherty, CM (1896-1985) was a social activist and foundress of the Madonna House Apostolate. A pioneer of social justice and a renowned national speaker, Catherine was also a prolific writer of hundreds of articles, best-selling author of dozens of books, and a dedicated wife and mother. Her cause for canonization as a saint is un ...more

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