It seems lately at Stuart's Study, I've been getting a lot of thick books in the mail. This isn't always a bad thing mind you, but when you have to review two books a week, not counting kids' books, the thick books can start to take their toll. Luckily, Holy Trinity Publications sent me three books in the email, which are tiny but pack a mighty punch! For those of you unfamiliar with Holy Trinity Publications, this is the publishing branch of the monks of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, and they have been printing books in Russian and English for over 65 years.
How to Live a Holy Life is written by Metropolitan Gregory Postnikov of St. Petersburg and translated by Seraphim F. Englehardt. Like many Orthodox works which are translated, this book contains a brief biography on the author in it. I always find biographies both interesting and useful as they help serve as a good framework for the book. With these few pages, the reader learns not only about the author but also the audience to whom the work was written and the culture of the time. By knowing these facts, one can read the book in the proper light.
Looking at the cover and the title, one would get the impression that this book is written for religious and monastics. Each chapter in the table of contents deals with proper conduct for a Christian. I own and have read books of this nature before. Once you start getting into the heart of the book, you quickly realize that this book was written for religious or monastics but the layperson could find some value in the work. Not so for this book! Metropolitan Gregory specifically addresses husbands and wives in this book, so I was pleasantly surprised that this book was written with the laity in mind.
In addition to an explanation on how to conduct ourselves at different moments of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, etc.), the reader is also given instruction on how to conduct themselves in the common situtations of everyday life as well as in relation to God and others. I especially liked the short three page chapter on "How Should We Conduct Ourselves During Sleeplessness at Night?" I don't know about the rest of y'all, but it is an effort for me to fall asleep most nights. Prayer is of course the answer, but more specifically, we should pray for the salvation and repentance of all. It certainly beats watching the clock and stressing each hour I lose to sleeplessness.
I loved this little gem of a book, and it easily gets a 5 star rating from me. This is a book you can pick up and read through it once just to get an overall general idea on Christian conduct. However, if you want to make this book really useful in your life, you can carry it around with you and reference it when in particular situations and you need guidance. The size of this book makes the latter a viable option.