The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks

Feast of St. Patrick
The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks translated by Benedicta Ward

Ward_desert_frs_square.jpgTHIS TRANSLATION of the Vitae Patrum has it all: comical stories, thwarted demons, sagacious aphorisms, and hard truths. Open the book at random and you’ll find a pearl some fourth century monk sold all for and spent a lifetime seeking. Take Bessarion, who on his deathbed said, “A monk ought to be like the Cherubim and Seraphim, all eye.” The pervasive and lasting influence of these bands of men and women who forsook the world in the deserts of Egypt and the Middle East have had on Christianity would be difficult to overstate. Whether or not you agree with their methods, their theology, or their practices, no contemplative or questing soul can avoid wrestling with these teachings. At the very least we are sharpened by them, for how else but by their example do we learn the potential depth of “watchfulness” and “discernment” or accurately measure our own desire for holiness save against a commitment so total? Even if we do not, like Bessarion, stand for 40 days and nights in a patch of thorns without sleep, are we not somehow better off for learning from a man who did?

201 pp. paper $14.00


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