As esoteric as the Desert Fathers and Mothers appear on the surface, I was fascinated by the true portrait of humanity that painted itself through their teachings. Even though they had gone to the extreme in their lifestyle, they never became un-relatable. The depth of teaching on the heart of man is deep, profound, and simple.
For most, practical wisdom is not found in systematic approaches. Sure, you can broadly group the sayings and writings into categories like the active and contemplative life, but who is the one being helped with those categories?
“Tears are like rain, and man is like a farmer; when they come, he who cultivates the earth of his heart must strive not to lose any of the rain but, rather, to collect all of it in his small garden and irrigate it.”
"When patience is multiplied in our souls, it is a sign that we have secretly received the Grace of Divine consolation. The power of patience is more powerful than the joyful thoughts that descend into the heart."
"If we are unable to learn by ourselves things of the arts and sciences...how, then, would it not be foolish and idiotic to believe that we are able to succeed in learning the spiritual arts, which are more difficult and demanding than all the arts and sciences, without a teacher?”
“If all the members of my body were to be converted into tongues, and if each of my limbs were to be gifted with a human voice, I could still do no justice to the virtues of the holy and venerable Paula.”
“If any man love the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, he will acquire awe, and awe will beget in him weeping, and weeping joy, and joy will beget strength, and in all this the soul will bear fruit.”
“Why, my wretched soul, are you acting crazy? Why have you become anger, like those who foam at the mouth? With precisely this anger you show that you are ill; for, if you were not ill, you would not have felt pain."