The Pilgrim's Tale

ESL 084-07


In the preface we learn about The Pilgrim's Tale and some ways that it is unlike the things we usually read. The author introduces us to the idea of intertextuality, the practice of using many quotations and references to earlier books as the basis for a new book. He mentions some of the other books and writings referred to in this one: the Philokalia, The Ladder of Ascent by Climacus, and the Bible. The author explains that prayer is viewed in the book as both communication with God and as a gift of grace to man from God. In the preface we also learn that the book we are going to read is organized around a pilgrimage.


The introduction of this book is a very detailed history of the text. Basically, the book we are reading is a translation of the 1992 publication of the book by the Optino hermitage. This same hermitage has been involved with the text since its earliest days; the earliest known publication of the Four Tales of a pilgrim was done there.

The Pilgrim's Tale, which consists of seven meetings, originated in the 19th century. Its author may be Arsenii Troepol'skii. Another person closely associated with the text is Fr. Mikhail Kozlov.

The book has a long and complicated history, but what is important is to recognize that this text in one form or another has been touching people's lives for more than a hundred and fifty years.

First Meeting

There is a pilgrim who was homeless; wanders, and a man who his belongings were only a small bag of dried bread crust, and a Bible. One day he went to a Church to pray, and he heard the phrase hat says, “Pray without ceasing”. After that he put it in his mind. Consequently, he began to be interested. What that word means and how other people could pray with out ceasing.
Then he started looking for an answer he asked for a cleric and a parish priest, but he could not find the answer that he was looking for. Followed, he went to the Churches that were more famous for their preachers. So, he went to the Cathedral in there he heard the bishop’s sermon. That says “ We have to pray with our pure minds, love, and faith, but if you are not prepared to pray you will insulting God.” After, he went to home and started looked at the Bible, and he realizes that the sermon was without foundation it was spoken from experience.
After that he went to the Adoration of the Cross. There was preacher screaming “the prayer needs to be in spirit, not in a superficial petition.” The homeless man was unsatisfied with sermon because he went home and looked at the Bible and he realize that the priest contradicted himself because the priest said that we had to pray in spirit but, he never mentioned that we had to pray all times.
After he visited several Churches and heard several sermons. He went with a man who was living in village. When he met the hermit he asked him. What means to pray with out ceasing? The hermit explains him but he could not understand. Then the hermits repeated with others words and said, “You have to pray as you know”. The elder explain him how to pray and the man started working in what the elder told him. In the beginning the elder told him that he had to pray for three thousand prayer by day saying Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me. It was hard to pray but then he got costumed and he was praying six thousand prayers by day, and that it was easier. Also, the hermit told him that he had to pray since the morning until very late. The hermit based his prayers in a book called Philokalia. This book reflected the teaching of the Bible.
After all hermit died at the end of the summer and the homeless man was very thankful for all his teachings. Then he some trouble finding a copy of Philokalia it was but he was so glad. He learned how to pray without ceasing and he was very happy.

Second Meeting

In the Pilgrim’s tale in the second meeting said that the pilgrim wandered for many places. Then he thought that should better to be in specific place praying and reading the philokalia. So, when he was walking to wards Siberia he was repeated loudly his prayers. Then he started to feel that the prayer was moving more in more his heart. “In every heartbeat of itself I feel: at the first beat, Lord; at the second, Jesus; at the third, Christ.” He said, after that stopped prayer loudly and he started feeling pain in his heart but that pain it was for Jesus Christ.

Then he walked for many kilometers in the woods for two summers and he was too happy. Then when he got to a road he saw to guy. Then they asked for money but he didn’t gave them. Consequently, one of them hit to the pilgrim on his head and he felt down unconsciously. After that he woke up, and he saw that they didn’t take his passport but, they took his two great treasures his Bible and his philokalia. He was so sad about it.

Then he meets a man who was a sergeant and he asked him about his books. After that the sergeant and the pilgrim went to the camp. They talked a lot. The sergeant told him about his past. He was an alcoholic and he told to the pilgrim that a monk thought him how to read the Gospel but, at the begging he couldn’t understand what the Gospel said then he was able to red every day since he was cured for the alcohol. Then he gave him back his book and the pilgrim left the camp very happy again.

Then he was walking in the woods by himself he saw a man who was a forester, the foster invite him to stay in his place the pilgrim accepted. Then they talked about their experiences of prayer. After that the pilgrim walked to Irkutsk, and there meets a merchant. This merchant invites him to his place then the merchant asked questions about who was the pilgrim. Then the merchant offer help him to go to Jerusalem, but the pilgrim told him that he was unable because he didn’t have money to get there. The pilgrim spent three day with the merchant. Now he left Irkutsk and, he is in his way to Odessa reaching Jerusalem.

Third Meeting

In the third meeting Pilgrim’s Tale said that there is again the pilgrim in the road wandering place to place. In this third meeting he explain his past when he was a child. He was born in Orel providence, his father and mother pas away when he was a child. His grandfather took care of him and his brother. Then when they grow up his brother ruined himself drinking. His grandfather taught him to read, but they didn’t have any books. So, his grandfather used the Bible.
When he was seventeen years old his grandmother pass away. The he married to a young woman twenty years old. Suddenly his grandfather got sick and he died. His grandfather gave him all his propriety, but the pilgrim’s brother was angry about it. His brother burns his house. After that the pilgrim and his wife had a good life, and his wife took care of him because hi was unable to work. Because his arm was injured since he was a child.
By the time that they were married they pray together to don’t felt into temptation. After two years his wife pass away. Since then the pilgrim have been wandering from place to place for fourteen years. He has been in many Churches and monasteries. Now he is thirty-three years old, and he is reaching the holly city Jerusalem.

Fourth Meeting

In the four meeting of the Pilgrim’s Tale said that he left everybody to start his journey to Jerusalem with God’s help. Then when he was at the gate he saw a man. Who his face was familiar to him they greeting each other. The pilgrim told him about Tobolsk providence when he passed by. Then when he was there he entered to house to beg for bread. At that moment he thanked them, and he thanked God for showing him good people.

After that he walked for five kilometers and he saw a village. There was a Church and beside that Church were two kids a boy and a girl playing. So, when the children saw him they shouted him “beggar come with us to our house my mother is going to be happy if she see you she likes to talk with beggars.” He went to that place. Their mother was so happy and she saw him. Then her husband arrived to the house and he was so happy too with my present in his home. They asked him talks about spirituality. They were talking stories for long time. Then the pilgrim explained them what the Our Father means. The couple married offered him a really good attention.

After that he meet a postmaster and he asked him to spent the night with them. The postmaster accepted him, and he started telling stories. Then he left the postmaster and he meets an old woman who was serving in a convent. This lady told him her story, and they talked about their spiritual experiences.
Then at the end in December 23rd, 1859 the Pilgrim took a rest. But he still shows great love and humility for everybody.

Fifth Meeting

In the fifth meeting of the Pilgrim’s Tale the pilgrim met some people and he talked with them about his pilgrim. The pilgrim was in house for more the one-year until a faint knocked the door. The pilgrim welcomed him and they talked about the pilgrim’s story when he was in his journey with a deaf old man. The pilgrim told to the faint a story about the merchant who gave him a letter to his son who was living in Odessa. Then the pilgrim said when I found the address from the letter I encounter that the merchant’s son passes away three days before he got there. After that the pilgrim spent three weeks with the widow. Then he left them to go to Kiev where was a place where he hasn’t been.
Suddenly he walked fro 70 kilometers from Odessa. Then he saw a large train of wagons. Then they stopped and all the wagoners went by the pond. Then one of them got into the pond and everybody thought that he was crazy. Then they were splashing water on him and he died peacefully.
After that he walked for five kilometers and he saw a priest who was on the street in a small village. Then the pilgrim asked to the priest about the facts that he saw about the man who died. But the priest told him a similar story and he couldn’t explain him what was happened there.
After that the pilgrim walked for 200 kilometers to get to other place where he met an innkeeper who told him a story about his father who was a Jew. Fallowing he told him a story about a soldier who was with the pilgrim and a merchant. So, when the pilgrim, the merchant, and the soldier were walking they saw a Church they thought that they should go to pray in the Church. But the soldier left them. When he was walking he saw that he had lost his passport and he went back to find them again and he found his passport and he was so happy and he was together with them again. Then the merchant told them a story about the monk. He said that the monk wanted fish and he went out to find some. Then this monk saw a horse then the horse run to the monk and the wagon get into him. The monk thanked God because he was well. Then the merchant finished telling the story. They went each one in their way and the pilgrim walked for five years and he met a man who was walking for around five years.
Then they walked travel together and they went to Pochaer. They walked for five years and the pilgrim explain him a bout the readings of the Gospel.

Sixth Meeting

In this chapter the pilgrim meets another pilgrim both are together in the same place. They were talking about their lives. The new pilgrim began telling his story. He said when he was young he meet a young man who was from France. Then he said I invited to my home. So, he started telling me praises that were very strange to me. Then he asked me to left the school. As a result of he visit en my place one day he saw the copy of the Gospel that it was in the bookcase. I took it and he vanished, and I felt down unconsciously.
After that my legs and my arms were completely numb. The doctor diagnosed paralysis. Suddenly, my mother pass away and my consolation was the Gospel. After that I was in place and one day a monk who was collecting money for his monastery. He saw me, and he told me you know that reading the Gospel has the entire recover for all kinds of disease. Then he said some phrases that I heard when I was in the school.
The pilgrim said now you can see me I am completely recovered. Now my consolation is only reading the Gospel. So. I thought to follow my sister’s example she became a nun. But I decide to make my own way of solitary. Then he said that the Gospel consoled he in his entire journey. After this man finished telling his story the Monk, the priest and the pilgrim said some words related with the story of that man.

Seventh Meeting
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