Sunday, May 10, 2015

Review: Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers edited by Henry L. Carrigan, September 1, 2010. 160 pages. Published by Paraclete Press. Source: publisher.
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. Encouraging humility, patience, prayer, introspection, and love, the Desert Fathers and Mothers have influenced centuries of believers, showing how contemplative practice can reveal the true meaning of everyday life.

“Let Christians care for nothing that they cannot take away with them. We ought rather to seek after that which will lead us to heaven, namely wisdom, chastity, justice, virtue, an ever watchful mind, care of the poor, firm faith in Christ, a mind that can control anger, and hospitality. Striving after these things, we shall prepare for ourselves a dwelling in the land of the peaceful.” (from the book)
First Sentence:
Athanasius addresses his life of Antony to monks in Europe: You have entered into an admirable contest by seeking to equal or outdo the monks of Egypt in striving for moral perfection through strict self-discipline. 




In all the reading I've done lately concerning the writings of saints and early church fathers, I must say that I have, till now, failed to read about the desert fathers and mothers. So, my knowledge of saints such as Antony of Egypt and Paul of Thebes was, well, non-existent.

While I wasn't expecting the majority of the book to be taken up with the story of Antony of Egypt's life, I did find it interesting. What really fascinated me about his life would have to be the struggle that he underwent at the hands of the devil. Fascinated might be the wrong word...it was interesting because in this day in age people tend to forget that he is still out there trying to draw people away from God, so, seeing all the ways that Antony of Egypt fought against him made for interesting reading because, well, life is full of big and small struggles to keep to the straight and narrow.

While the flow of the writing takes a couple pages to get into, its really good. The writing and editing of The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers was both interesting and well done. I liked how accessible it made the life of Antony of Egypt and Paul of Thebes come to life; as well as the short sayings by not only them but so many desert fathers...and the one desert mother.

Even though I found myself really enjoying The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, I was somewhat disappointed to notice that there was , in fact, only one section by one desert mother. With my not being an expert in the field of the writing of the desert fathers and mothers I cannot say if she was the only one that had writing survive through the ages, or, if maybe she was the only one worth mentioning in the book. That being said, I was really hoping to have read more from the desert mothers as it piqued my interest.

In the end, I found myself enjoy this book immensely because I liked reading about the desert fathers and mother and seeing what they had to say.

Final Verdict: The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers- An enjoyable book to introduce one to the writing of the desert fathers and mother.

The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers earns

this book was received in exchange for an honest review

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