Mother Maria Skobtsova
By: Introduction by Jim Forest
"The new Modern Spiritual Masters volume is surely the first introduction for most English-language readers to its subject. Born to a prominent, devoutly Russian Orthodox family, Elizaveta Pilenko (1891-1945) renounced her belief at 14 when her father died. In St. Petersburg with her mother, she then joined the circle of symbolist poet Alexander Blok and later the Bolsheviks. But come the Revolution, she was regaining her faith. Twice married, she had three children, with whom she fled to Paris. Always a community activist, she turned to explicitly Christian charity to express solidarity with the needy, especially fellow Russian exiles in Depression-era Paris. Eventually, her second husband, Daniel Skobtsov, released her so she could become an Orthodox nun. Taking the name Maria, she realized a "new monasticism" that merged the spiritual life with service to the oppressed. Her subsequent career, as Jim Forest observes in his excellent introduction, resembled Dorothy Day's; however, circumstances didn't allow her Day's longevity. After the Nazis took Paris and persecution of the Jews began, she stood with them, was sent to the camps, and perished in Ravensbruck. Besides her inspiring life, her legacy includes much writing on the religious life. The 11 selections here, concerned primarily with living out Jesus' commandment to love your neighbor, are often literature of a very high order, none more so than the dazzling metaphoric masterpiece "The Poor in Spirit." Ray Olson." --Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Mother Maria Skobtsova (1891-1945) has emerged as one of the most fascinating religious figures of the twentieth century. As an Orthodox nun in Paris her home was at once a soup kitchen for the needy, a center for the renewal of Orthodox thought, and—-under Nazi occupation-—a haven for the rescue of Jews. For the latter cause she ended her life in a concentration camp. Like the Catholic Dorothy Day, her writings reflect her deep commitment to the gospel mandate that unites love of God and love of neighbor.
The introduction is by Jim Forest, secretary of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and author of many books including Praying with Icons and Confession: Doorway to Forgiveness