Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colliander On Obedience

"And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 4:8)

Tito Colliander is not exactly a household name among most Orthodox Christians. Colliander was born in 1904 in Russia. Soon after the Russian Revolution, his family emigrated to Finland. Tito grew up in a Swedish-speaking part of Finland. He became a writer of short stories and novels and enjoyed some success. As he grew older, his Orthodox faith deepened, and he soon began writing about the faith. In 1960, he published a work called Askernatas vag (Way of the Ascetics). This book, a summary of the great ascetical teachers of the Orthodox Church, soon became a much-loved and classic introduction to Orthodox Spirituality.

After hearing three different priests recommend Way of the Ascetics, I finally decided to read it. I was not disappointed. Despite the fact that he had never formally studied theology and was a layman, Colliander did a masterful job of summarizing the teachings of ancient writers on Orthodox spirituality (such as the writers of volume one of the Philokalia) and more modern writers (such as St. Theophan the Recluse). Over the next week or so, I am planning to share with you a few of my favorite chapters from Way of the Ascetics. I hope that they will be a blessing to you as they have been to me. Here is the first paragraph of Chapter 12: On Obedience.

Obedience is another indispensable implement in the struggle against our selfish will. With obedience you cut off your physical members the better to be able to serve with the spiritual, says St. John Climacus. And again, obedience is the grave of your own will, but from it rises humility.

I especially like that last sentence. Next time, I'll post the rest of the chapter.

1 comment:

Molly Sabourin said...

That book, WOW, that book is amazing. We read it in a discussion group at our parish in Chicago and I've read it many times since then as well. Every single time I pick it up, I am convicted by something different. I look forward to reading your upcoming posts.