September 28, 2021

Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller: "Reading Is Also a Kind of Prayer"

Elder Arsenios the Cave-Dweller, fellow ascetic of Saint Joseph the Hesychast, said:

"Reading is also a kind of prayer. Every day we would read one or two chapters from Holy Scripture and then we would read patristic books.

As for Saint Isaac the Syrian, we always held him in our arms. If you do not have another book, Isaac the Syrian is enough; he says it all.

But we also read the Ladder, Abba Dorotheos, the Evergetinos, Saint Makarios, etc., and also the lives of our Saints.

When we read the lives of the Saints we gain two things: first, the example of their struggles awakens us from the slumber of negligence, and second, the Saints, when we read their lives reverently, represent Christ for us.

But we must always pray before we start reading. After the prayer when we read the life of a Saint it will move us so much where we will not be able to stop the tears. This is because prayer enlightens the mind."

"Pappou, what should we read more in Holy Scripture?"

"All of Holy Scripture is divinely inspired and we must read it. From the Old Testament we must read the Psalter; it is a very powerful prayer."
Source: Ιωσήφ Μ.Δ., O Γέρων Αρσένιος ο Σπηλαιώτης, (1883-1986), Συνασκητής Γέροντος Ιωσήφ του Ησυχαστού. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.