Synopses & Reviews
Words of spiritual counsel from the heart of early Christian monasticism.
The words of spiritual counsel which form the heart of this book are as clear and timeless as the desert stars on a winter night. Not only do the sayings of the Desert Fathers possess the imprint of eternity,but the fresh and vital commentary by Father John Chryssavgis provides a key which unlocks their relevance for the reader of today.
The actual Egyptian desert to which these monks fled in the fourth and fifth centuries was, of course, an actual place. But, the desert may also be understood as an inner geography of desolation and abandonment. Father John tells us that anyone who has experienced loneliness, brokenness, breakdown, or break-up--whether emotionally, physically, or socially--will connect with the profound humanity of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Various traditions from world religions teach that God enters into the empty soul. The universal and perennial message of these first Christian monks concerns the necessity of emptiness; they show us, by their examples, how to confront the chaotic impulses of the soul which drive us away from that still point where God is waiting.
In the Heart of the Desert portrays several of the key figures in early Christian monasticism including one of the Desert Mothers, Amma Syncletica. It also includes the first translation into English of the fifth-century text, The Reflections of Abba Zosimas. In a sense, this is not a book of the past, of the fourth or fifth centuries. It may be described as a book of the age to come, or of a new age. It speaks to our present age of an experience of a new life, of a fullness and renewal of life.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 155-161).
Table of Contents
The text through the centuries -- The age of the Desert Fathers and Mothers -- Key personalities -- The desert as space -- The struggle against demons -- The patience of the cell -- Silence and tears -- The treasury of the heart -- Spiritual guidance along the way -- The power of detachment -- Education and formation -- Solitude and charity -- The desert and the body -- The desert and the environment -- The desert and gender -- Miracles and signs -- Praying to God -- Encountering God.