A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain
by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos Hierotheos.
Published by the Birth of the Theotokos Monastery, Greece, 2003 (2nd Edition)
A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain details a discussion between Metropolitan Heirotheos of Nafpaktos and a Holy Elder who lived in the solitary peaks of Mount Athos. The author, Metropolitan Hierotheos, at the request of the Elder with whom he speaks, purposefully maintains his anonymity.
The book begins with a young Hierotheos traversing the peaks of Mount Athos searching for this unnamed Elder to satisfy his increasing thirst for God and to question him with this burning desire to draw near to Christ. Metropolitan Hierotheos describes this elder as: “Living in a little more than an opening in the earth, he has overcome all the conventions of this world…You do not know how to describe him. As he has escaped the categories of this world, he goes on towards the depths of eternity. He touches the divine fire and he is literally aflame. He is on fire now with the Uncreated Light. At times while you are talking with him you think that he will be ignited and be completely consumed in flames.”
The description of the Elder is genuine and true. One can immediately understand this after beginning to read the wise words of the Elder. This Holy man is not from our world, but speaks as if he lives in another, a higher world. The conversation recorded in this book covers the topic of the Jesus prayer, and delves into the varying subjects that surround it including temptation, how to pray the Jesus prayer, the Grace and blessings associated with the prayer and the significance and spiritual states regarding the prayer.
This book should not be quickly dismissed as a mere spiritual conversation between two people, but as the Metropolitan Hierotheos notes in his introduction: “should not be read as a story, but rather as a teaching sent by God”. A teaching for all on a central aspect of Orthodoxy, a prayer that has guided our Holy Fathers and Saints for centuries, and with the Grace of God will continue to guide us.
Source: Lychnos August/September 2018