The Elders of Optina Monastery have had a tremendous impact on Russian society, evoking a nationwide blossoming of sanctity. During the course of a century, their prophecy and God-illumined counsel attracted spiritual seekers from far and wide.
The tradition of eldership is a continuation of the ancient prophetic ministry of the Church. Elder Leonid (1768-1841) introduced and firmly established this tradition in Optina Monastery, as transmitted through the spiritual lineage of the man who first compiled the writings of The Philokalia: St. Paisius Velichkovsky.
Possessing penetrating spiritual discernment, Elder Leonid was at the same time loving and fatherly. He could mystically see into the hearts of those who came to him, knowing when to rebuke, when to exhort, and when to console. He especially extended his care to people for whom no one else seemed to have time, and thousands came away from him healed in both soul and body. Preserving a holy simplicity, joyfulness and inward peace, he was an inexhaustible vessel of the grace of God.
The first in the Optina Elders Series, Elder Leonid of Optina includes the Elder's Life and counsels, together with the Life of his spiritual preceptor, Elder Theodore of Svir, a direct disciple of St. Paisius Velichkovsky.
Preface to the Second English Edition
Preface to the 1976 Centennial Russian Edition
Forword to the 1876 Russian Edition
THE LIFE OF ELDER LEONID
I. The Youth of Father Leonid
II. Father Leonid Settles at the Optina Monastery
III. The Opponents of Eldership
IV. The Distinctive Qualities and Spiritual Gifts of Elder Leonid
V. Stories About Elder Leonid
VI. The Persecution of Elder Leonid and his Belev Nun
VII. The Last Days and Repose of Elder Leonid
SPIRITUAL COUNSELS OF ELDER LEONID
I. A Disciple's Questions and the Replies of the Elder
II. The Questions of Another Disciple and the Replies of the Elder
THE LIFE OF ELDER THEODORE OF SVIR
I. A Letter of Elder Theodore of Svir
II. Righteous Anthony Ivanovich, Fool-for-Christ of Valaam
III. The "Pancake" Commemoration of Elder Leonid