The fourth-century ascetic flight to the desert indelibly marked Christianity. The faithful who did not embrace the austerity of the desert admired those who did and sought them out for counsel and consolation. The ‘words’ the monks gave were collected and passed around among those too far away or too feeble to make the trek themselves – or lived generations later. Previously available only in fragments, these Sayings of the Desert Fathers are now accessible in its entirety in English for the first time. We have a great deal to learn from their integrity and their unrelenting courage, from their vision of God – so Holy, so great, possessed of such a love, that nothing less than one’s whole being could respond to it. These were men and women who had reached a humility of which we have no idea, because it is not rooted in an hypocritical or contrived depreciation of self, but in the vision of God, and a humbling experience of being so loved. They were ascetics, ruthless to themselves, yet so human, so immensely compassionate not only to the needs of men but also to their frailty and their sins; men and women wrapped in a depth of inner silence of which we have no idea and who taught by ‘Being’, not by speech: ‘If a man cannot understand my silence, he will never understand my words.’ If we wish to understand the sayings of the Fathers, let us approach them with veneration, silencing our judgments and our own thoughts in order to meet them on their own ground and perhaps to partake ultimately – if we prove able to emulate their earnestness in the search, their ruthless determination, their infinite compassion—in their own silent communion with God.
Though steeped in the ancient patristic and ascetic tradition, Theophan the Recluse was down-to-earth and very real, making profound, mystical realities understood by those he counseled. St. Theophan had the exceptional gift of being able to encourage all, no matter where they were on the spiritual path, to go further in their fight against the [...]
“The orientation of the monk is towards heaven, towards the life of another world. For this reason they are referred to as ‘earthly angels’; for while dwelling on earth they live as true citizens of heaven. To visit them is to visit the earthly paradise.” – The Sayings of the Desert Fathers “Angels are a [...]
The lesson of love can never be taught simply by words . . . Rather, it is taught by truly giving yourself and communicating the love and longing for Christ to those you serve. . . . How awesome and dignified is Christian service! And how good is the trustworthy and loyal servant who can [...]
One of the most profound works on repentance in all of Christendom. St. Theophan, a beloved Orthodox bishop from nineteenth-century Russia, speaks not only from a deep knowledge of the Church Fathers, but also from a lifetime of experience in turning his heart to God-and guiding others on this glorious Way that leads to our [...]
For centuries, Christians have been challenged and inspired by the writings of the early church fathers. Their exhortations, thoughts, and meditations have been a beacon of light and hope to church leaders, laity, and theologians including Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley. Day by Day with the Early Church Fathers presents selections of these [...]
Touch and the Healing of the World explores one of the most familiar yet profound of human experiences touch. In a series of reflections that focus upon events in the life of Christ (beautifully portrayed in contemporary icons, in full color plates), Dr Daniel Hinshaw contemplates the mystery of the incarnation, focusing on the meaning [...]
As word of the wisdom and purity of the Desert Fathers and Mothers spread throughout the Roman Empire, Christians streamed to the caves of these hermits, seeking counsel on the interior life. The hermits’ ascetic practices and teachings were a shining witness to a living faith – offering wisdom for both monastic and lay Christians. [...]
The gospel of the second mile represents pro-active Christianity; it grants the one who follows it excellent spiritual energy through joy, love, faith, courage, and sacrifice through serving others.It protects such a person from being passive, selfish, fearful, worried, mean spirited, deprived, and frustrated.