A Holy Selfishness: On Using Evagrios to Read Evagrios and Why I’m Not Called to be a Solitary

The Fathers of the Philokalia and I have not been the best of friends. You may recall my incessant – nigh panicked — questions the last time we read these texts about how I was supposed to incorporate intense fasting and vigil keeping and extreme poverty into my already exhausting life as a nursing assistant. […]

If You Have Friends . . .

“If you have friends, avoid constant meetings with them. For if you meet only on rare occasions, you will be of more help to them. And if you find that harm comes through meeting them, do not see them at all.  The friends that you do have should be of benefit to you and contribute […]

To Scorn All Vanities

“For if with God’s help we make progress daily by means of our watchfulness, we should not behave indiscriminately and damage ourselves through a host of random meetings and conversations.  On the contrary, we should scorn all vanities for the sake of the beauty and blessings of holiness.” – St. Hesychios the Priest, On Watchfulness […]

The Horse of Self-Esteem

“Of the unclean demons, some tempt man in so far as he is a man, while others disturb him in so far as he is a non-rational animal. The first…suggest to us notions of self-esteem, pride, envy or censoriousness…whereas the second…arouse incensive power and desire in a manner contrary to nature.” -Evagrios the Solitary, “On […]

The Science of Stillness

The phrase “the science of stillness” has stayed with me. For Evagrios, the pursuit of stillness is Serious Business. This is not a hobby, not a fluffy side pursuit for those who can’t hack it in the Real World. There is nothing more real than God, the creator of reality, and no better, more challenging, […]

Keeping a Watch on our Senses

“’Take heed, lest your hearts be overwhelmed with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of this life’ (cf Luke 21:34)…stand guard, then, over your heart and keep a watch on your senses.”- St. Isaiah the Solitary, On Guarding the Intellect: Twenty-Seven Texts (Pg 24, 12th text) When St. Isaiah refers to guarding our hearts and […]

Be Ruthless in the Living of Call

For many Christians, following Jesus takes a strong back-seat to other desires, the question for them is “what is the minimum requirement of salvation” and the fruits of such ungodly thinking are quite evident in their lives.  For others of us, the question is continually, “how can I follow God more fully?”  While this is an […]

Clinging to Stillness

“If you find yourself growing strongly attached to your cell, leave it, do not cling to it, be ruthless. Do everything possible to attain stillness and freedom from distraction, and struggle to live according to God’s will, battling against invisible enemies……Be like an astute business man; make stillness your criterion for testing the value of […]