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Elder Macarius of Optina
by Fr. Leonid Kavelin
The Optina Elders Series (Vol III)

Elder Macarius of Optina by Fr. Leonid Kavelin The Optina Elders Series (Vol III)
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A disciple and co-laborer of Elder Leonid, Elder Macarius (1788–1860) was instrumental in the publication of patristic literature by Optina Monastery. He was himself an embodiment of patristic wisdom—an ancient Church Father come forth in modern times. Meek, gentle, loving and noble, he was imbued with the power of humility that strengthens the infirm, chastens the proud-minded and exorcises evil spirits. In him were the words of Christ fulfilled: Be ye therefore perfect (Matt. 5:48). As one contemporary wrote after meeting Elder Macarius: “How difficult it is to see perfection. I had thought that a man is not capable of attaining perfection.… It was shock to see a living example of such a man.”

The outstanding Russian philosopher Ivan V. Kireyevsky became a devoted spiritual son of Elder Macarius and his chief collaborator in editing patristic literature. The brief biographies of Kireyevsky and other disciples of Elder Macarius contained in this volume show the amazing influence of this humble Elder throughout Russia.

No one has to be embarrassed over his sinful state. ‘There is no man who, while living, does not sin,’ and the more sinful the man, the stronger will be God’s help in leading him out of his sinful mire. But the help of God comes only when the sinner repents with heartfelt contrition and has the will to reform. Not seeing in himself enough strength of soul to break away from sinful deeds, he asks for God’s help. This is where the mercy of God, Who does not wish the death of the sinner but wants him to be converted and live, is often evident.… If the voice of conscience awakens in us a feeling of remorse or repentance, then we must pray fervently to the Guardian Angel of our human existence that he may keep us from corrupt downfalls and help us ‘serve God with fear and trembling.’”

— excerpt from Elder Macarius of Optina


Elder Macarius of Optina is a translation of the prima vita written by one of his closest disciples, Archimandrite Leonid Kavelin. The book also contains memoirs by his spiritual children, as well as selections from his profound letters of counsel.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Saint Herman of Alaska Press (March 1, 1996)
  • ISBN-10: 0938635581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938635581
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 386 pages
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