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Western Asceticism (Library of Christian Classics) Paperback – January 1, 1958
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About the Author
Owen Chadwick is Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the University of Cambridge in England. He is an ordained Anglican priest.
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God be with you.
small. Anyway it is packed with many stories of the fathers, which should interest the Christian
scholar. A very dense collection of sayings.
An abbess named Matrona said, "Many people living secluded lives on the mountain have perished by living like people in the world. It is better to live in a crowd and want to live a solitary life than to live a solitary life but all the time be longing for company." (Pg. 43)
A troubled hermit went to Abbe Theodore and complained that after eight years, he had found no peace. The abbe replied, "I have been a monk for seventy years, and I have not been able to get a single day's peace. And do you want to have peace after eight years?" (Pg. 83) An old man said, "Hermits have followed their own will in withdrawing from the world. But the obedient have cast away their self-will, and depend on God and the word of their spiritual father; that is why they shine the most." (Pg. 155)
Cassian observed, "The Lord, you see, placed the chief good in divine contemplation. All the other virtues... must be placed on a lower plane because they are sought for the sake of this one thing." (Pg. 200) Recalling the reason for his decision to join a monastic group rather than be a hermit, he wrote, "I therefore determined to fulfil my ascetic purpose in the (community), rather than become a half-hearted solitary... I no longer have freedom, I am no longer taken up into ecstasies of spirit. But I have this consolation... If I lose the purity of contemplation, I gain by having to obey a rule." (Pg. 282)
Benedict noted that "I have written this Rule with the object of showing that monks who keep it have at least something of virtuous character, and must have begun to live a truly good life." (Pg. 336)
These early Christian writings are culturally dissimilar from the later Protestant theology, but their "spirit" is still of value to students of Christian history and spirituality.