A remarkable double-movement took place within the Church at the close of the Age of Martyrs: Christian Empire and Christian Monasticism. Most historians treat these subjects separately, but we would argue that this was in fact one movement-in part hidden from the world, and in part revealed. Monks in their cells and bishops in council before the emperor, members of one Body, found different words to express the same truth: 'Here is the Christ and this is how to live as a Christian.' The works of the councils are more familiar to contemporary Christians, since they were taken up into the Creeds, but just as important to our practice of the spiritual life are the lives of those men and women who renounced the world, living in holy simplicity for the sake of the Gospel. Here is rough-hewn wisdom distilled from the most fertile period of the development of Christian spirituality and arranged for a year's reading, 365 days of aphorism and anecdote, many original translations, for private or group devotion. 556 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
The insights of the desert monks of the fifth and sixth centuries amaze, and startle, readers by their wisdom. Among other things, they teach "that the first step in overcoming our sinfulness is an honest perception of things as they are." By arranging these "words" in short daily readings, Tim Vivian invites modern readers to savor the monks' advice, as did those who collected these sayings, rather than dismiss them as a fascinating but irrelevant bit of history.