"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, September 21, 2010

The Desert Fathers and Mothers

Cistercian Publications has been doing quietly faithful and useful work in bringing out works on Eastern Christian theology and especially monastic spirituality. They are the publishers of David Bell's excellent book and have several new works on the Desert Fathers, including these two edited by Tim Vivian. The first is just being released this month:

The Holy Workshop of Virtue: The Life of John the Little by Zacharias of Sakha, eds., Tim Vivian, Rowan Greer, and Maged S. A. Mikhail (Cistercian, 2010), 328pp.  

The second was released in 2008, and I reviewed it for Logos

Tim Vivian, ed., Becoming Fire:  Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Cistercian, 2008), 555pp. 

This is an excellent collection arranged for each day of the year, with the feasts of the Coptic, RC, Anglican, and Byzantine sanctorals noted. It would make a very easy, profitable addition to one's daily meditation to take a passage each day--most are only a few lines long, true apophthegmata patrum (and a few matrum) that are wonderfully refreshing in their bluntness. In an age of euphemism, we are parched for straight talk, and the desert fathers and mothers give us that. In his foreword, the Benedictine Aelred Glidden quotes Thomas Merton's summary of the desert's wisdom: "Shut up and go to your cell!".

In October, Cistercian is bringing out

Cliff Ermatinger, Following the Footsteps of the Invisible: the Complete Works of Diadochus of Photikë (2010), 168pp.  

Diadochus's influence on Maximus the Confessor, Gregory Palamas, and many other prominent figures in the development of Byzantine spirituality and liturgy is very pronounced. 

Finally, in November, the press is bringing out a collection about Abba Ammonas, successor to St. Antony the Great, father of desert monasticism:

Bernadette McNary-Zak, Nada Conic , Brother Lawrence Morey, ocso, Richard Upsher Smith, Jr.,  Useful Servanthood: A Study of Spiritual Formation in the Writings of Abba Ammonas (2010), 184pp.

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