Praying with the Desert Mothers

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Overview

Fourth- and fifth-century desert mothers in the Mediterranean region, known as ammas (spiritual mothers), were the founders of Christian community in the early church. Praying with the Desert Mothers introduces the lives, sayings, and stories of these remarkable spiritual elders. It enriches readers' lives and compels them to return in meditation and prayer. For each topic a true story is drawn from a modern persona's experience of seeking God. This tapestry of stories of the desert ammas is woven together with theological insights, discussion of genres of literature, historical views on women, and reflective approaches to the wisdom tradition.

Praying with the Desert Mothers combines scholarship and reflection for praying, meditating, and living the wisdom of spiritual practices today. Chapters are Introduction to the Desert Mothers, Ammas as Midwives of Wisdom, Ammas as Scripture Scholars, Heralds in the Desert, Desert as Idyllic Garden, The Peal of Great Price, Humility and the Manifestation of Thoughts, Penthos and Tears, Signs of Conversion, The Hidden Life, Prayer and Hospitality; and concludes with The Visitation and a complete bibliography on the desert ammas.

Mary Forman, OSB, PhD, a Benedictine from the Monastery of Saint Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho, is assistant professor of theology at the School of Theology, Seminary and the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This little gem of a book delivers all that it promises, and considerably more. . . . The author writes clearly and concisely, making it easy to concentrate on the text and ideas. This little volume would serve nicely both for spiritual reading and for an introduction to the spirituality of Early Christian women ascetics.
American Benedictine Review

This book is a very interesting and stimulating source not only for learning about a part of the history of the church which has been little emphasized, but also as a source for promoting the continuing value of the work of the ancient ammas for spiritual guidance in a modern world.
Catholic Studies

. . . many will find this resource a valuable source of inspiration and prayerful reflection on women’s faithful lives, both ancient and modern. It is a text that could well be used for classroom use in Christian spirituality, in the history of early Christianity, and in the dynamics of Christian prayer. The faith, especially of these ancient and courageous desert women, inspires admiration and at times awe. That Forman has provided a way for ordinary Christians to reclaim their stories and to embrace them in prayer is a great service.
New Theology Review

Mary Forman is an outstanding teacher. She has honed the skill she exhibits in this precious book by teaching both undergraduate and graduate students for many years.
Pastoral Music

The author interprets for us both what is said and what is hidden in layers of patriarchal and cultural perspectives. She has an outstanding command of the language of story and the anecdotes of desert spirituality. She gets to the heart of the meanings for us today and invites us to enter into these stories, letting them stand in their authenticity without imposing on them our contemporary overlays of psychology, sociology, theology, and spirituality.
Pastoral Music

Modern readers will enjoy getting acquainted with wise and holy ammas such as Sarah, Theodora, Syncletica, Melania, and others. An extensive bibliography is included for those interested in further exploration of this fascinating and largely neglected part of our spiritual heritage.
Liguorian

This book is an excellent read for all pastors, male or female, because it invites us into the desert with the ammas, into their Wisdom, and to explore our own faith by daring to be contemplative.
Prudence T. Wood, Trinity Seminary Review

One thing that I especially like about this book is its profound reflection on lived experience. Mary Forman is able to go back into her long experience in her monastery (Saint Gertrude’s, Idaho) and pull up fascinating and moving examples of modern ammas in out Benedictine convents. I think she shows clearly enough that the days of the Desert Mothers are by no means over.
Cistercian Studies Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814615225
  • Publisher: Liturgical Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 120
  • Sales rank: 746,953
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


Mary Forman, OSB, PhD, is a Benedictine sister from the Monastery of Saint Gertrude, Cottonwood, Idaho. She is associate professor of theology, teaching monastic studies and theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Central Minnesota.
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Table of Contents

Introduction to the desert mothers 1
1 Ammas as midwives of wisdom 11
2 Ammas as scripture scholars 20
3 Heralds in the desert 28
4 Desert as idyllic garden 37
5 The pearl of great price 47
6 Humility and the manifestation of thoughts 59
7 Penthos and tears - signs of conversion 68
8 The hidden life 78
9 Prayer and hospitality 90
Conclusion - the visitation 101
Bibliography on the desert Ammas 105
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