The fourth-century ascetic flight to the desert indelibly marked Christianity. The faithful who did not embrace the austerity of the desert admired those who did and sought them out for counsel and consolation. The 'words' the monks gave were collected and passed around among those too far away or too feeble to make the trek themselves - and to those of us living generations later. Previously available only in fragments, these Sayings of the Desert Fathers are more accessible in its entirety in English for the first time.
"We have a great deal to learn from their integrity and their unrelenting courage, from their vision of God - so holy, so great, possessed of such a love, that nothing less than one's whole being could respond to it," wrote Archbishop Anthony of Sourozh in his preface. "If we wish to understand the sayings of the Fathers, let us approach them with veneration, silencing our judgements and our own thoughts in order to meet them on their own ground and perhaps to partake ultimately ... in their own silent communion with God."