(Lily blooming in July)

The Way of the Pilgrim is a book written by an anonymous Russian citizen seeking a way to pray unceasingly.  As I read this story, I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts and first impressions.

Beginning the first chapter, we meet a poor impoverished Russian man, who has neither house, nor home, nor family.  We find it to be written in the first person, which invites anyone who reads it to identify with the narrator.  We are encouraged to detach and empty ourselves and become as poor as he is as we go through this journey together.  Thus, we begin the search for unceasing prayer.

At first, our pilgrim leader does not know what ceaseless prayer is and much less how to attain it.  But this does not stop him.  He goes in search of those who are holy and pray often, inquiring if they know or could help him.  We follow.  Soon, he finds an elder hermit who can explain it to him in a way he can understand.  The hermit teaches him this prayer:  “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”

This prayer is very similar to the one prayed in the Divine Mercy Chaplet: “For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”  In fact, it seems to be the Divine Mercy condensed.  The name “Lord Jesus Christ” invokes the memory of his passion.  Both ask for mercy.

Going back to the poor Russian’s pilgrimage, we read that our pilgrim finds a job while the elder teaches him not only what unceasing prayer is but how to pray unceasingly.  We learn that it is something that takes time to learn and cultivate as all good things are.

Resource: The Way of the Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way, trans. by Helen Bacovcin (Doubleday: New York), 2003.