A beautiful instruction. Simple, and at the same time difficult, each page a poetry to live through. Every line given (and subsequently written) by a desert father to his fellow monks with the intention of it being ''learned by heart and meditated on over and over again for a day or even a week until the paragraph [has] broken like a fruit on the tongue... and revealed its inner flavor to the searching mind.'' Patristic scholar John McGuckin has edited and translated these sayings into three ''centuries,'' or books - Praktikos, Theoretikos and Gnostikos - following the tradition of monastic spiritual ascent. Praktikos involves the training of the soul to understand its own need for a disciplined inner attention - a holy psychology that maps the self to better understand God's mysterious presence there. Theoretikos serves to resolve the difficulties which Praktikos reveals. A place to struggle and work things out. Gnostikos is traditionally the most controversial chapter (because of its highly personal nature, i.e. the way a particular soul experiences God), focusing on the state of knowing or understanding God Himself. While this book has a very particular structure, its truth transcends intent, igniting in any careful reader the quiet, consuming love of God.
An Eighth Day View:
The early Christian monks of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine were the spiritual heroes of their age--fleeing the security of civilization for the desert, where they sought God in lives of prayer, contemplation, and radical simplicity. This book is a portable collection of their teachings, and those of their contemplative contemporaries, ranging from the fourth through the eleventh centuries. It is arranged to the traditional model of three ascending "books" "Praktikos" (practice), "Theoretikos" (theory), and "Gnosis" (knowledge). Each book consists of 100 "sentences"--aphorisms or thoughts. Each sentence is intended to be read and meditated upon for an entire day--just as the monks themselves might have done as they went about their work.