"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Desert Fathers and Mothers

Interest in the Fathers, especially those of the deserts of Egypt, remains high. In the last decade more than a dozen books have appeared. Especially noteworthy are several volumes by John Chryssavgis, including In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers; and Tim Vivian, ed., Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

Now another book has been released just last week: David G.R. Keller, Desert Banquet: A Year of Wisdom from the Desert Mothers and Fathers (Liturgical Press, 2011), 256pp.

About this book, the publisher says:
The wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers lies in their experiences of solitude, prayer, community life, work, and care for their neighbors. Their goal was transformation of their lives through openness to the presence and energy of God in Christ. They taught by example and by sharing narratives and sayings that reflect the deep human psychological and spiritual aspects of their journey toward authentic human life. The venue for their transformation was the whole person—body, mind, and spirit. They emphasized self-knowledge, humility, purity of heart, and love of God and neighbor. Far from being naïve, their sayings and narratives reflect honest struggles, temptations, and failures. They also demonstrate the disciplines of prayer and meditation that kept them centered in God as their only source of strength. The daily reflections in Desert Banquet introduce readers to a variety of these early Christian mentors and offer reflections on the significance of their wisdom for life in the twenty-first century.
The noted Orthodox theologian John McGuckin, whose work we have discussed on here several times, has praised Keller's book thus:

"This delightful book presents a year´s daily readings from the Early Christian Desert tradition, with a very helpful spiritual commentary for each date. It is a veritable pocket Philokalia, such as we hear about in The Way of the Pilgrim. Fr. David Keller has done a great service in providing this very profound source of lectio divina for those seriously interested in the spiritual path."

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