The Desert Fathers: Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Desert

The Desert Fathers: Monks and Monasteries of the Egyptian Desert
The Monastery of St. Paul of Thebes, Red Sea Desert, Egypt (1990)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

ABBA EVAGRIUS - Various Teachings on Spirituality

Abba Evagrius was a monk in Scetis. He was born in the middle of the fourth century, the son of a priest. Because of his background and obvious capabilities, he caught the attention of such notable contemporaries as St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory the Theologian. St. Basil anointed him reader, St. Gregory of Nyssa ordained him as deacon, and then took him to Constantinople. He eventually left there to escape temptation and went to Jerusalem where he took monastic vows. Shortly after that, he went to Egypt where he settled in Nitria for two years and finally in Scetis where he apparently spent the rest of his life. He died in 399.

Today's reading is a bit shorter than usual, but it is very strong and full of good spiritual guidance for all of us. It is a collection from the Philokalia of several sayings of Abba Evagrius whose work we studied last week. These teachings are especially good for the beginning struggler, but also good for even the most advanced spiritual guides. Enjoy!


-- Hell is the darkness of ignorance, which envelops sentient creatures, when they have lost the contemplation of God.

-- It is unseemly for the man who seeks honors to shirk the efforts for which honors are given.

-- Do you wish to know God? Learn first to know yourself.

-- It is inconsistent to think highly of oneself, while one's actions are base.

-- In every man self-opinion prevents self-knowledge.

-- He is pious who is not at variance with himself.

-- A soul pure in God is God.

-- If you wish to be free from discontent, strive to please God.

-- If you wish to know who you are, do not look at what you have been, but at what you were originally created.

-- A proud soul is a den or robbers; it cannot bear the voice of knowledge.

-- Without temptations no one would be saved.

-- Pray without ceasing and remember Christ, Who has regenerated you.

from E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer (trans), "Early Fathers From the Philokalia," (London: Faber and Faber, 1981), p. 109