Words and Wisdom attributed to the Desert Fathers and Mothers
“Our life and our death is with our neighbour. If we win our brother/sister, we win God. If we cause our brother/sister to stumble, we have sinned against God". - Anthony the Great c 251-356
“If I prayed God that all people should approve of my conduct, I should find myself a penitent at the door of each one, but I shall rather pray that my heart may be pure towards all” - Amma Sarah c 3rd Century
Desert Fathers and Mothers
The Desert Father and Mothers were early Christian hermits living mainly in the Scates desert of Egypt in about the 3rd century. Although hermits, they were regularly sought out for their teaching and wisdom. Some of their informal gatherings developed overtime into early monastic communities. There may have been hundreds of such hermits in the 3rd Century and their spiritual influence is still seen in the Church today.
Praying in the heritage of the Desert Fathers and Mothers today
1.Silence A gift taken up by all the great teachers of spirituality over the centuries see modern writing such as that by Thomas Merton 1915-1968.
2. Meditation in the midst of daily life “Meditation is the missing dimension of much Christian life today. It dos not exclude other types of prayer and indeed deepens reverence for the sacraments and scripture”. Laurence Freeman OSB: see the link to The World Community for Christian Meditation below.
3. Daily reciting the Psalms. Many desert hermits were said to have prayed all 140 psalms each day. By St Benedict's time in Italy in the 5th Century he was allocating them over a week. Nowadays the Church offers to all (lay and clergy) The Divine office which has a four week cycle of psalms. See more about this in the Ways of Praying page.
Communities within our Diocese
The World Community for Christian Meditation www.wccm.org has a very thriving membership in our Diocese. They also teach and promote “Meditation in Schools”
MedioMedia is the publishing and communications company of The WCCM and stocks a wide range of books, audio and video material in support of those wishing to follow a more contemplative spiritual path www.mediomedia.com
The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton. An excellent book to get you thinking, or perhaps just sitting with some very laconic and often off beat sayings still relevant today. A book to savour over time to allow both the Desert Fathers' and Thomas Merton's words to settle deeper.
Silence and Honey Cakes by Rowan Williams. A classic book of our age on the wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers. A book that challenges us to listen to Abba Aresenius and Abba Moses from the Desert Fathers as they wrestle with individualism and uniformity in following Christ.