Last Sunday I wrote about what a spirituality is, I also mentioned that I would write about some of the spiritualities that exist in the Church.
I would like to start today with a spirituality that is very little known in our days. It is the spirituality of the Desert Fathers. They are a group of men who lived at the end of the third century and some time later. Some of these men were originally forced to escape to the desert because of the persecutions against them for being Christians. This spiritual movement began when these men discovered in the desert a place to meet God through silence, fasting, prayer and a poor life because they had divested themselves of their goods to go to the desert.
These men fled from cities and towns and went to live in huts built in the desert. There they lived alone, and the main reason for living in this way was to worship God with their life, with their prayers, with their sacrifices, without the interruptions of the cities and in the towns. This movement originated in Egypt.
It could be said that through this lifestyle a more private Christian life was lived. However, we must make a clarification, although these men sought spiritual perfection through this lifestyle, does not mean that they became indifferent to others or that they fled the world for fear of what is in the world. Their life of prayer was very connected to the needs of others, and the desert gave them the space and the means to dedicate themselves in a more direct way to worship God without the interruptions that they had in other places. And at the same time, they gave testimony with their lives that God was the only one who deserved such a sacrifice from them and they were willing to give him all that they were and all that they had.
Some of the men who gave rise to this spirituality of the Desert Fathers are Paul the Hermit, Saint Anthony the Abbot, Pachomius, Basil of Caesarea, Moses the Ethiopian.
Currently, quite possibly, almost no one of us is attracted to this kind of experience of the Christian faith in such a radical way. My intention is not to convince anyone to go to the desert. My intention with this article is first to make known this spirituality that is a very important part in the history of Christianity. Secondly, even if we are not going to live in the desert, surely the Desert Fathers do have a lot to teach us about such a radical commitment to God, especially with those important means to relate to God such as fasting, loneliness, silence, and material poverty.
Fr. Manuel Rosiles, MSpS