On Earth We’re Just Learning How to Live
Presented here for the first time in English, this heartfelt and moving memoir has become quite popular in Russia since its publication there in 2004. In it, the Russian archpriest Fr. Valentin Biryukov endeavors to pass on the spiritual wisdom of his extensive life experience. Now ninety-four years of age, he lived through almost the entire history of the Soviet Union, having experienced severe deprivation and struggle while exiled with his parents and siblings in the Siberian wilderness; having been severely wounded while helping to liberate Leningrad from the 872-day blockade by the Nazis during World War II; and finally having fulfilled his life’s calling by serving Christ in the holy priesthood. All three of his sons likewise became priests. In the most difficult of circumstances, throughout his whole life, his faith in God kept him alive, both physically and spiritually.
During his long life, Fr. Valentin has had innumerable experiences of God’s mercy and has met a great many others who have experienced God in profound and at times miraculous ways. He has recorded these experiences in this book for the sake of younger generations, in order to strengthen their faith, and in order to derive teachings on how to live as true Christians: with prayer, love for others, hope in God, humility, repentance, and forgiveness. “All of our life is a school,” he affirms. “All of our life is just a preparation for eternal life. Here on earth, we’re not living, but just learning to how live in the Heavenly Fatherland.”
This book, in my humble opinion, is essential reading for Christians. This book is a endless fountain of Grace which will overflow into your heart and invigorate your spiritual zeal and deep desire for and Trust in Christ our God. His Life is harrowing, full of exile, war, poverty, and such radical trust and proof of God that one’s jaw may need surgically reattached from falling to the floor so frequently. This book is indeed a form of open Heart Surgery.
Along with his life, Father Valentin recounts many stories of clairvoyant elders, clergy and lay folk who have seen Heaven, appearances of the Saints, and stories of the faithful protecting their Churches and Icons.
As we stand in these days where Persecution looms, we all must read books like this to prepare our hearts and Faith and to remember beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will Protect the Faithful. Do not fear my brothers and sisters. This book will set your heart on fire.