I love reading Orthodox Christian books! They are such a nourishing food for the soul! There isn’t a time when I am not in the middle of reading a particular Orthodox book. In fact, my character Father Gabriel wouldn’t be with us today if it wasn’t for these books!
As of this writing, I am reading a book about one of the Optina Fathers: “Elder Nektary of Optina” by I.M Kontzevitch. This is such an amazing and beautiful book about a very loving and holy monk that lived in the Optina Monastery in Russia. This is my second book that I am reading about an Optina Elder, and each book leaves me in tears sometimes when I read about the amazing lives that these holy monks lived.
While reading about Elder Nektary, I came upon page 315 of the book. Here, Elder Nektary is teaching a young man named Oleg (a future Bishop) how to pray. Here is an excerpt from page 315:
Once Elder Nektary, when giving a cell rule to Oleg, explained to him how to pray using the prayer rope. He told him about the “Optina Five-Hundred” prayer rule, consisting of three-hundred Jesus Prayers (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”), one hundred prayers to the Mother of God (“Most Holy Mother of God, save us”), fifty prayers to one’s Guardian Angel (“Holy Angel of the Lord, my Guardan, pray to God for me”), and fifty prayers to All Saints (“All ye Saints, pray to God for us”). In order to make the last prayer more understandable to Oleg, the Elder told him, “Just think! What a great thing it is to pray to All Saints. When you only say, ‘All ye Saints, pray to God for us,’ then at this very moment in the Heavenly Kingdom, all, all, all the Saints standing before the Throne of God will simultaneously bow down low before the Lord and all together will say, ‘Lord, have mercy.'”
I love this! The last sentence brought tears to my eyes. Can you imagine!? When you say this prayer to the Saints, all the Saints before the throne of God bow down to the Lord and pray for you! This is so comforting that the Holy people of God, who have spent their lives on Earth fighting the good fight, are now before the throne of God praying for us!