The Way of a Pilgrim

Hope Publishing House, 2nd Edition 1989


The Way of a Pilgrim is an all-time classic much loved by generations of teenagers and adults. It chronicles the travels of an anonymous nineteenth century Russian Christian, and his adventures, spiritual inquiries, and inner change along his eye-opening and extraordinary journey. The pilgrim sets out with nothing but a Bible, a rosary, and some dried bread. Various incidents arise during his journey: he meets his spiritual elders, he learns the Jesus prayer, he encounters a forester, he gets a job as a church watchman, he plans for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he visits with a pious family, and he departs for the Holy Land.

Through his journeys, his practice of the Jesus prayer, his readings of the Fathers of the Church in the Philokalia, and guidance of a spiritual father, the pilgrim becomes gradually more open to the promptings of God. He sees joy and plenty wherever he goes. He discovers the different meanings and methods of prayer as he travels to his ultimate destination, Jerusalem.

At one point, the pilgrim observes: “I spent the entire summer continuously repeating the Jesus prayer. I was very much at peace and often even dreamed that I was saying the prayer. If I happened to meet people during the day, each of them without exception seemed very dear to me, as if they were family, though otherwise I did not concern myself with them much. All thoughts seemed to vanish on their own, and I thought of nothing else but the prayer. My mind was recollected and attentive to it, while at times, and of its own accord, my heart would feel a warmth and a sort of pleasure.”

The transformation of the pilgrim’s inner life throughout this journey captivates the reader. He inspires us to pray the Jesus prayer so that through repentance we can also have an increasing understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ’s providence and boundless love.


Source: Lychnos November/December 2018