The Desert Fathers

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FredS
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The Desert Fathers

Post by FredS » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:34 am

The earliest Christian monks inhabited the desert land of the Middle East starting at the end of the second century AD. Known as the “Desert Fathers”, they left everything in search of knowing Jesus Christ by making the Gospels absolutely integral to their daily lives. They wanted to commit themselves totally (body, soul, mind, and will) to being a disciple of the Lord Jesus with a profound holy zeal moving them to become ever more like Christ. These monks practiced integrity of character with an unrelenting courage that required their whole being to remain in the state of constant humility that comes from knowing that they were loved by God. Paradoxically, their extraordinarily harsh penances often resulted in gentleness and patience towards others, especially other monks but also visitors who came seeking an understanding of the essence of spiritual life. These monks sought most of all to experience U***n with God in the quiet of the desert and in the silence of their hearts.

Share your favorite teaching, stories, sayings from the Desert Fathers (and Mothers) here.
Last edited by FredS on Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by FredS » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:34 am

On Temptation:

“A saying about a certain monk. On a journey and while walking down the road he saw some virgin anchoresses, so he turned aside from the road. But the Emma of the ladies’ convent shouted across to him: “You there! If you were a real monk you wouldn’t have even noticed that we are women.”

Boosh!
"If we ever get to heaven boys, it aint because we aint done nothin' wrong" - Kris Kristofferson

"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

"I'd like to put a hook in that puppet and swing it through a bunch of salmon!" - durangopipe

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by DepartedLight » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:39 am

:D
DL Jake

Feel free to use that quote in your signature. Stanley76 » 22 Feb 2019 21:50

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Thunktank » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:46 am

Yeah, I’ll have to add something here being an Eastern Christian (by tradition) and all.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” -Yoda

“I grew up in a church with Ned Flanders. Down to the mustache. But so did a bunch of people I assume, which makes it so fun-diddly-unny.” -tuttle

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by FredS » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:58 am

Thunktank wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:46 am
Yeah, I’ll have to add something here being an Eastern Christian (by tradition) and all.
Yes, please. I'm counting on you and Thoth to fill out this thread. You ortho and ex-ortho may find it interesting that a lot of Protestants appreciate the early monks and find them informative and worth studying. I don't remember if the 20th century trappist monk Thomas Merton was quoting the desert monks or it he made it up, but in one of his books he wrote that the monks didn't seek solitude to simply to remove themselves from a broken world. They sought solitude so they could first save themselves then return to the sinking ship with life preservers.
"If we ever get to heaven boys, it aint because we aint done nothin' wrong" - Kris Kristofferson

"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

"I'd like to put a hook in that puppet and swing it through a bunch of salmon!" - durangopipe

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Joshoowah » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:08 am

“Arsenius always used to say this, ‘Why, words, did I let you get out? I have often been sorry that I have spoken, never that I have been silent.”
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose?" Philippians 1:21-22

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Joshoowah » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:17 am

Also, John Wesley was greatly inspired by the Desert Fathers.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose?" Philippians 1:21-22

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Thunktank » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:25 am

FredS wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:58 am
Thunktank wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:46 am
Yeah, I’ll have to add something here being an Eastern Christian (by tradition) and all.
Yes, please. I'm counting on you and Thoth to fill out this thread. You ortho and ex-ortho may find it interesting that a lot of Protestants appreciate the early monks and find them informative and worth studying. I don't remember if the 20th century trappist monk Thomas Merton was quoting the desert monks or it he made it up, but in one of his books he wrote that the monks didn't seek solitude to simply to remove themselves from a broken world. They sought solitude so they could first save themselves then return to the sinking ship with life preservers.
I’m still Ortho, and Catholic. :wink:

The desert was a calling for some, one that required a blessing and rules. It fundamentally shaped all of Christianity, especially the Eastern rites and Ireland. :D
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” -Yoda

“I grew up in a church with Ned Flanders. Down to the mustache. But so did a bunch of people I assume, which makes it so fun-diddly-unny.” -tuttle

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Thoth » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:56 am

Image

- from the book "Desert Wisdom" by Yushi Nomura (where he illustrates some sayings of the desert fathers with Japanese sumi-e)
"Go and reconcile with him who has trespassed against you before he comes and apologises to you and steals your crown" - H.H. Pope Cyril VI<br><br>"O Lord I was not aware of the treasure within me that is You" - H.H. Pope Shenouda III

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by FredS » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:59 am

Stay in your lane and MYOB:

Father Anthony (the Great) asked God "Why do some people die as babies and some as old men. Why are some people poor and others rich? Why do the wicked ones get ahead and the righteous suffer?"

God said "Focus on yourself. I'll judge those other people and it does you no good to worry about them."
"If we ever get to heaven boys, it aint because we aint done nothin' wrong" - Kris Kristofferson

"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

"I'd like to put a hook in that puppet and swing it through a bunch of salmon!" - durangopipe

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by FredS » Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:04 pm

Zip It!

It was said of Abba Agathon that for three years he carried a pebble around in his mouth until he learned to be silent.
"If we ever get to heaven boys, it aint because we aint done nothin' wrong" - Kris Kristofferson

"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

"I'd like to put a hook in that puppet and swing it through a bunch of salmon!" - durangopipe

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Thunktank » Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:06 pm

I have used this on my kids, but changed the word “cell” into “room.” This is tongue in cheek and my children where old enough to know it.

Saint Moses the Black:
+ A certain brother went to Abba Moses in Scete and asked him to speak a word. The elder said to him, "Go and sit ‎in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything."‎
Of course the cell isn’t merely a room. Keep that in mind when you read that.
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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by FredS » Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:52 pm

On self righteousness and different strokes for different folks:

When a visiting monk noticed Abba Silvanus and all the monks working, the visitor quoted John, “Do not labor for the food which perishes” and Luke, “Mary has chosen the good portion.” Abba Silvanus asked one of his monks to give the visitor a bible and show him to an empty cell. The visitor was happy to be so well received and gladly sat in his cell reading for the rest of the day.

As lunch time came, the visiting monk sat and watched the door expecting someone to call him to the meal. No one called. When dinner time came he waited again and again no one called him. He got up to find Abba Silvanus and asked if the other brothers had eaten that day. Abba Silvanus said they had. The monk then responded, “Why didn't you call me?’ Silvanus said to him, ‘Dude, you're a spiritual man and don't need that kind of food. We, being carnal, want to eat, and that is why we work. But you have chosen the good portion and read the whole day long and you do not want to eat carnal food.” When the monk had repented and asked for forgiveness, Silvanus used the moment to teach a valuable lesson, “Mary needs Martha. It is really thanks to Martha that Mary is praised.”

Boosh again!
Last edited by FredS on Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:40 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"If we ever get to heaven boys, it aint because we aint done nothin' wrong" - Kris Kristofferson

"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

"I'd like to put a hook in that puppet and swing it through a bunch of salmon!" - durangopipe

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Del » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:21 pm

Thunktank wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 1:06 pm
I have used this on my kids, but changed the word “cell” into “room.” This is tongue in cheek and my children where old enough to know it.

Saint Moses the Black:
+ A certain brother went to Abba Moses in Scete and asked him to speak a word. The elder said to him, "Go and sit ‎in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything."‎
Of course the cell isn’t merely a room. Keep that in mind when you read that.
I remember this same lesson from Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ -- "Learn to love your cell."

A modern evangelist, Matthew Kelly, a lay Catholic from Australia who is popular on Catholic radio -- often encourages us to "spend time in the school of silence."

Timeless good advice.
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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Jocose » Mon Oct 29, 2018 4:39 pm

This is a great thread.

I have several that I will post when I can fi d them, I'm afraid if I were to paraphrase them that I'd mess it up badly.
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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Joshoowah » Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:13 pm

FredS, here is that story you mentioned on another thread:
Thomas Merton wrote:There once was a wise monk, Abbot Anastasius, living alone in the desert, who had a very nice bible made of parchment that was worth, say about $100. The Abbot was hospitable and when another brother arrived, he made him welcome. It was after this visit when the Abbot went to read his bible that he discovered the bible was gone and he realised the brother had taken it. He feared if he ran after the brother and asked about the bible, the brother might add “perjury to theft” so the Abbot stayed put.

Not long after this a trader from the nearby city came to the Abbot. He had the very bible that had gone missing. He wanted Abbot Anastasius to tell him how much it was worth because a monk was offering to sell it to him for $80. “Yes,” said Abbot Anastasius, “It is a fine bible and it is worth that much.”



Satisfied, the trader returned to the monk and agreed to buy it. “Abbot Anastasius told me it was a fine bible and worth the amount you asked for.”

“Did he say anything else?” asked the monk.

“No,” replied the trader, “not a thing.”

“I’ve changed my mind,” said the monk. “The bible is no longer for sale.”

Instead the monk returned to the Abbot and offered the bible back.

“Please take it back,” said the monk.

“It is your bible.”

“You can have it,” replied the Abbot. “It is a gift. Go in peace.”

“No,” replied the monk with tears in his eyes. “I can have no peace until you take back your bible.”

After that the monk stayed with the Abbot for the rest of his days.
It comes from Merton's The Wisdom of the Desert.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose?" Philippians 1:21-22

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Jocose » Tue Oct 30, 2018 3:50 am

Tt
"And for Freds sake, DO NOT point anyone towards CPS or you'll put them off of both Christianity and pipe smoking forever." ~ FredS

"Death Wish and its progeny are some of the greatest films of the 1970s. If one disagrees with this, he is a foolish man with no taste." ~ TNLP

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by FredS » Tue Oct 30, 2018 8:18 am

Joshoowah wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 11:13 pm
FredS, here is that story you mentioned on another thread:
Thomas Merton wrote:There once was a wise monk, Abbot Anastasius, living alone in the desert, who had a very nice bible made of parchment that was worth, say about $100. The Abbot was hospitable and when another brother arrived, he made him welcome. It was after this visit when the Abbot went to read his bible that he discovered the bible was gone and he realised the brother had taken it. He feared if he ran after the brother and asked about the bible, the brother might add “perjury to theft” so the Abbot stayed put.

Not long after this a trader from the nearby city came to the Abbot. He had the very bible that had gone missing. He wanted Abbot Anastasius to tell him how much it was worth because a monk was offering to sell it to him for $80. “Yes,” said Abbot Anastasius, “It is a fine bible and it is worth that much.”



Satisfied, the trader returned to the monk and agreed to buy it. “Abbot Anastasius told me it was a fine bible and worth the amount you asked for.”

“Did he say anything else?” asked the monk.

“No,” replied the trader, “not a thing.”

“I’ve changed my mind,” said the monk. “The bible is no longer for sale.”

Instead the monk returned to the Abbot and offered the bible back.

“Please take it back,” said the monk.

“It is your bible.”

“You can have it,” replied the Abbot. “It is a gift. Go in peace.”

“No,” replied the monk with tears in his eyes. “I can have no peace until you take back your bible.”

After that the monk stayed with the Abbot for the rest of his days.
It comes from Merton's The Wisdom of the Desert.
Thanks for that Joshoowa. Like Jocose feared, I paraphrased the story from memory and forgot the part about the thief returning to Anastasius and being so convicted by Anastasius' peace and good character that he (the thief) decided he wanted what Anastasius had and stayed in his community the rest of his life.

What a testimony.

John 13:35 - By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
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"One of the things I love about CPS is the frank and enthusiastic dysfunction here. God help me, I do love it so." – OldWorldSwine

"I'd like to put a hook in that puppet and swing it through a bunch of salmon!" - durangopipe

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by durangopipe » Tue Oct 30, 2018 9:12 am

Abba Poemen said to Abba Joseph, ‘Tell me how to become a monk.’ He said, ‘If you want to find rest here below all circumstances say, ‘Who am I? and do not judge anyone.’
. . . be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

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Re: The Desert Fathers

Post by Thoth » Tue Oct 30, 2018 10:45 pm

What translation, FredS, are you getting the sayings from. Its kind of throwing me a bit since knowing these sayings and seeing worded differently than I expect them to be.


"One day some old men came to see Abba Anthony. In the midst of them was Abba Joseph. Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able. But to each one the old man said, 'You have not understood it.' Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, 'How would you explain this saying?' and he replied, 'I do not know.' Then Abba Anthony 'Indeed Abba Joseph has found the way, for he has said: "I do said, not know.""
"Go and reconcile with him who has trespassed against you before he comes and apologises to you and steals your crown" - H.H. Pope Cyril VI<br><br>"O Lord I was not aware of the treasure within me that is You" - H.H. Pope Shenouda III

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