Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings-Annotated & Explained

Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings-Annotated & Explained


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Timeless and contemplative sayings from the earliest Christian sages of desert spirituality can be a companion on your own spiritual journey.

The desert fathers and mothers were ordinary Christians living in solitude in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Arabia who chose to renounce the world in order to deliberately and individually follow God's call. They embraced lives of celibacy, labor, fasting, prayer and poverty, believing that denouncing material goods and practicing stoic self-discipline would lead to unity with the Divine. Their spiritual practice formed the basis of Western monasticism and greatly influenced both Western and Eastern Christianity.

Their writings, first recorded in the fourth century, consist of spiritual advice, parables and anecdotes emphasizing the primacy of love and the purity of heart. Focusing on key themes of charity, fortitude, lust, patience, prayer and self-control, the Sayings influenced the rule of St. Benedict and have inspired centuries of opera, poetry and art.

This probing and personal SkyLight Illuminations edition opens up their wisdom for readers with no previous knowledge of Western monasticism and early Christianity. It provides insightful yet unobtrusive commentary that describes historical background, explains the practice of asceticism and illustrates how you can use their wisdom to energize your spiritual quest.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594733734
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 08/01/2012
Series: SkyLight Illuminations Series
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 759,528
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, author of Lectio Divina—The Sacred Art: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer and The Artist's Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom among other books, frequently leads retreats and teaches on the wisdom of Benedictine, Celtic and desert ways of praying. A writer, artist, spiritual director, retreat facilitator and teacher, she is the online Abbess of, a virtual monastery dedicated to nurturing contemplative practice and creative expression.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Give Me a Word 3

Your Cell Will Teach You Everything 7

Heart-Centered Spirituality 27

Thoughts, Desires, and Passions 37

Humility, Simplicity, and the Beginner's Heart 57

Spiritual Elders and Soul Friends 85

Tears of Compunction 93

The Necessity of Practice 101

Virtues, Charity, and the Service of Love 111

Solitude, Silence, and Hesychia 119

Three Essential Things 125

Prayer and Differing Gifts 129

Conclusion: How to Become a Monk 137

Notes 144

Suggestions for Further Reading 146

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