Wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

St. Peter's, Arlington
via Zoom

A 5-Week Lent class that will read and discuss the collective wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers who began living in the deserts of Egypt in the third and fourth centuries of the Christian church.

The class will be taught by the Rev. Craig A. Phillips, Ph.D., Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and a former college religion professor who will bring his expertise in ancient Christian literature and classical languages to bear on this topic. (See www.craigphillips.co for further information about him.)

The class will begin at 7:00 p.m. and end at 8:30 p.m. We will read and discuss two influential books on the desert fathers and mothers. At the beginning of each class, Fr. Phillips will provide historical, textual, and theological background to the sayings encountered in the readings.

The first book we will read together is Where God Happens: Discovering Christ in One Another by Rowan Williams (1950- ), the former archbishop of Canterbury. Williams offers a fresh reading of the 4th century Christians who retreated to the deserts of Egypt, Syria and Palestine and shows how their lives can serve as role models for us today, particularly within the Anglican Communion. Williams maintains that the place where "God happens" is to be found in our one-on-one encounters with each other.

The second book we will read together is The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen (1932-1996). Nouwen was renowned for his many books on Christian spirituality. The original subtitle of this book was, Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry, as its intended audience at the time it was written was ordained clergy. The book, however, soon found wide readership and as a result was republished with a new subtitle, Connecting with God through Prayer, Wisdom, and Silence.