Compendiums of the lives and sayings of Orthodox saints have become increasingly easier to find, though fluency in Greek is often a prerequisite for reading them. Without any fanfare or introductory hype, Four Great Saints
simply and charmingly presents-with the quirky grace particular to such tellings-the lives and deeds of four desert monastics born roughly between 290 and 400 A.D. Relatively unknown (or forgotten) to the contemporary Christian world, these men lived at the height of the desert monastic movement, yearning for solitude and unceasing prayer even as hundreds were drawn to them for instruction and guidance. Translated from The Great Synaxaristes (a classic collection of Orthodox hagiography), the lives of Paisius, Pachomius, Euthymius, and Theodosius quietly complement one another even as their stories stick in the imagination. Of Pachomius (whose parents were idolaters): 'From the useless is born the useful, from the thorns, the rose, and from the impure scents, the fragrance.' Of Theodosius: 'Just as she [his mother] gave him birth, he was the cause of her spiritual renewal and rebirth.' Of Euthymius: 'He stood with a contrite heart like a pillar, as if he were looking at the King of creation.' And of Paisius: 'With a sound voice, he refuted all the erring words of the heretics and proved them to be as flimsy and weak as a spider's web.' 160 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
In recent times there has been a renewed awareness of and inspiration taken from the lives and sayings of the early monks of the Egyptian desert. (Commonly referred to as "The Desert Fathers.) This is a translation from the Greek language "Great Synaxaristes" (Athens 1978) of four lives of great desert saints of the fourth and fifth centuries. The material presented on each saint is in sufficient depth to allow the reader to become more familiar with each of the saints, to learn from their wisdom and be challenged by their actions.