About the book (from Introduction):
This book is neither a scholarly history of Orthodox spirituality, nor a far-searching theological treatise on ascetical and mystical graces, nor a description of the psychology of Orthodox mystics, but a short and very simple introduction to the first principles of the spirituality of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The spiritual life is here considered in the light of the doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox Church. This name applies to the “sister-Churches” whose faith is expressed by the decisions of the seven Ecumenical Councils, and who maintain communion with the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Apostolic Sees of Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem. The Orthodox Church, as a Church, has a definite teaching on ascetical and mystical questions, and this teaching is a tradition (paradosis), handed down from the birth of Christianity to our own days. It is this tradition, and not the personal theories, either of himself or of any arbitrarily chosen spiritual writer, however great, that the author has here tried to set forth.
About the author (from Wikipedia):
Lev Gillet (born Louis Gillett; 8 August 1893 – 29 March 1980) was an archimandrite of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Brought up in the Roman Catholic tradition, he joined the Orthodox Church in 1928 and worked for the union of the churches.
During World War I he was mobilised and posted to the front, where he made liaison with British troops. He was taken prisoner in 1914 and spent three years in captivity with British and Russian prisoners, when he was attracted by the spirit and the spirituality of the Orthodox Russian prisoners.
After the war he studied mathematics and psychology in Geneva, but he decided to join the Benedictines of Clairvaux in 1919. At this period he spent some time in the Benedictine house at Farnborough in Britain, and studying theology in Rome. Attracted by Eastern Christianity, he became acquainted with Dom Lambert Baudouin (who later founded the bi-ritual communities at Amay and Chevetogne) and Metropolitan bishop Andriy Sheptytsky of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Galicia and pronounced his final vows as Lev in 1925 at the Studite monastery of Univ Lavra in Galicia.
Disappointed by the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church towards Orthodoxy, Gillet was received into the Orthodox Church in Paris in May 1928 by Metropolitan Evlogii – with the approval, Fr Lev always maintained, of Metropolitan Andriy. In November 1928, he became rector of the parish of Sainte-Geneviève-de-Paris, the first French-speaking Orthodox parish.
In 1938 he left Paris to settle in London, within the framework of the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius, an ecumenical organization dedicated to the bringing together of the Anglican and Orthodox churches. At first he worked in various capacities – as warden of a boys’ hostel, as a lecturer in the Quaker college in Birmingham, and serving the Society of Christians and Jews.
In 1947 he was invited by the Orthodox Youth Movement in Lebanon to become their chaplain there, and travelled to Lebanon at the beginning of 1948; but illness forced him to return to Britain later that year. He became a chaplain to the Fellowship in 1948 and resident at its headquarters in St Basil’s House. He worked part-time for the Spalding Trust and the Movement for the Great Religions of the World. He remained in Britain until his death in 1980, going on many journeys abroad, in particular to France, Switzerland and Lebanon, where he took part in the spiritual revival of Antiochian Orthodoxy.
Principal publications in French (under the pseudonym “A Monk of the Eastern Church”) include The Jesus Prayer, Introduction to Orthodox Spirituality, The year of grace of the Lord: A commentary on the Byzantine liturgical year and Jesus, simple gazes to the Saviour.