Monday, June 22, 2015

Chosen for His People (Holy Trinity Publications)

As a Roman Catholic, I admit to being ignorant about many of the recent saints of Eastern Orthodoxy. However, one man that I have always been fascinated by was St. Tikhon of Moscow. I knew the basics of his life and mission here in North America, but that was it. With the updated release of his biography Chosen for His People, I knew I finally had found a book to fill in the details I was missing. Very little is actually known about his early life, except some schooling information and that he was one of three sons. The first chapter details his religious education and training, and his time in America. He never referenced his personal life much, but he seemed well-loved and respected by all including Roman Catholics.

Chapter Two deals with the revival of the Patriarchate. In order to do this, a council was called in Moscow that comprised 265 clerics and 299 laity. Apparently the Patriarchate was abolished in 1721. There were multiple votes for candidates for Patriarch, and the voting process described in the book reminded me a bit of papal election. After three candidates were chosen, their names were placed in a blessed urn in front of the Vladimir icon of the Theotokos. After Divine Liturgy was celebrated, a name was drawn out of the urn, and Tikhon was chosen. A true gem of the book was reading his "acceptance speech," for lack of a better term. The next few chapters are hard to read, as they deal with a famine that plagued Russia; Patriarch Tikhon gaining enemies from the government and within the Russian Orthodox Church; Tikhon's arrest; being stripped of his title; and his eventual death. The last chapter is a "will," which it was only called such because of his death. There is great debate over its authenticity, and the book presents both sides, but leans to the side of it being a forgery.

Chosen for His People is a very enlightening book and one that will grip you, so that you will not want to put it down. In addition to chronicling the life of this holy man, we also receive glimpses of Russia, both before and after the Bolshevik Revolution. It also contains ample primary sources in the form of Patriarch Tikhon's words as well as those of his enemies. If I had one complaint with this book, it was that I was hoping to read more about his time in America. That quibble aside, I feel blessed getting a better insight into the life and struggles of this humble man. It has been 90 years since Patriarch Tikhon was martyred for the faith he so strongly believed in, and this book is still one of, if not the only English source we have on his life. Therefore, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this book.

This book was provided to me for free by Holy Trinity Publications in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!