The second point I would like to make about the desert fathers and mothers is that they did not see Christianity as a set of propositions to be agreed upon, because there were no propositions yet—just the Scriptures. Most were not even aware of the soon to come “Creeds” of the church, even less the “seven” sacraments, which would be centuries in the making. By today’s criteria, one wonders how they could even be saved!
For them, Christianity was not something that was taught nearly as much as it was “caught”—by lifestyle itself! This continued as the “Catholic” form of evangelization for centuries to come. Not preachers on street corners as much as going into a new area and building a loving community that shared, lived “beautifully” on the land, and did not seek wealth or status. Eventually, that whole area of Austria, or Italy, or Belgium would be Christian! This can be historically proven.
The desert period knew that you did not think yourself into a new way of living, but you lived yourself into a new way of thinking. Let’s allow ourselves this Lent to seek new life settings for ourselves, much more than new ideas to discuss and shelve.
Richard Rohr, February 2011
Adapted from The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (1975),
with permission of Cistercian Publications, and
The Wisdom of the Desert, Thomas Merton (1970),
with permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
Tomorrow I shall, God willing, start to post material from the actual Desert Mothers’ and Fathers’ writings – but this from Richard Rohr was just too good to pass up. I have myself actually found that the only way I have actually managed to change for the better – rare though that may be! – has been by allowing God to change me, through obedience and suffering, rather than by thinking how I ought to change myself.