Saturday, 18 March 2006
Irma Zaleski is one of those hidden treasures in literature you only find by chance or luck. A number of years ago I ran across one of her books by chance, I only picked it up because Michael W. Higgins had been quoted on the cover promoting the book. Since then I have fallen in love with her writing style and her works. I have tried to track down all of her writings that I could find. Each one is a gem that will enrich your life.
Zaleski, who was born in Poland in 1931, she escaped to England after the second world war, and came to Canada in 1952, she has led a vivid and diverse life. She has been a professor at the University of Toronto, a translator and a writer. In 1986 she moved to Combermere, Ontario. In her youth she practiced Buddhism and has studied Christian traditions from both the east and the west. As such she brings a breadth and depth to her writings that only comes with such diverse experience.
By: Irma Zaleski
This is the first of Zaleski’s book that I found. It is a collection of pensees thoughts and meditations from a woman who will remind you of the desert mothers of old.
God Is Not Reasonable: and other tales of Mother Macrina
By: Irma Zaleski
This is an updated and expanded edition of the great book Mother Macrina that was published by Novalis press in 2000. This Version has nearly twice as many stories and bits of wisdom to pass on the the earnest reader.
Door to Eternity
This volume looks at the certainty of death, and a life after death, yet it does so with a view of hope and faith. This book is almost a summary of Zaleski’s thought.
Living the Jesus Prayer
‘Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon me a sinner’ is a very old prayer. It has been used in both the east and the west as a way to practice unceasing prayer. Zaleski helps up to approach this in a realistic and hopeful way. There is not the expectation that tomorrow you will be able to pray continuously without fail, but this book will help us to grow in the desire to pray and practice this form of worship.
The Way of Repentance
Drawing on the eastern traditions this book draws up to seek a deeper understanding of what it means to be embraced by God. This book looks at many aspects of forgiveness, asking it from God, forgiving others, learning to forgive ourselves. It looks at different modes of repentance and is a great tool to teach us how to work out our salvation.
Conversion of the Heart
This book if a substantial rewriting and revision of The Way of Repentance written 4 years after the original it Zaleski states in the introduction to this new edition “I was glad to have this opportunity to make some revisions to my original text. The trouble with reflections is that they can never end. We can never stop reflecting, especially about things that matter to us most and yet always remain a mystery to our rational, ‘thinking’ minds. We can never say, ‘Now I can stop thinking about it. Now I have solved the mystery. Now I understand it all!’” p7. This updated version is so different it is really a new book on the same topic.
Who Am I?
Drawing deeply from personal experience, antidote and story we are drawn into a deeper understanding of ourselves, by Zaleski showing us who we are in God, and who we were meant to be. She examines many aspects of personality, our motives, egotism, self-awareness, and the question of which self. From there she moves on to God with us, Christ in us, finding our true heart and how to grow in the I-God relationship so that the self, becomes a self for God.
Who Is God?
This book is divided into three equal sections:
Part I: The Mystery of God
Part II: The Vision of Faith
Part III: Conversion of the Heart
This volume pared with Who am I? forms a diptych, like a painting in two parts these two parts so support each other that they almost have to be read as a pair. In learning to know who God is we can understand our relationship with him and through that to help us understand ourselves.
This is a summary of the corpus of work by Irma Zaleski, I guarantee that if you try one you will be hooked and track down the others. These are books that sit on my shelf of all time favorite’s. They sit on my bedside table and are read again and again. These are books that will inspire you and all who you lend them to.
The Covers beside the descriptions are for those editions, there are also editions of some available from the UK, and new editions coming out from publishers other than Novalis. As well there are also now a number of the books available in French.
(First Published in Across the Creek the St. Jerome's Students Union newspaper column 'Book Look' April 2006)