The wisdom or sayings of the early monastic Fathers and Mothers who lived in the Egyptian Desert of the third and fourth centuries have been preserved for us. Some of these elders had unusual names like Pachomius, Arsenius, Poeman, and such, but their wisdom can be of use for us who live in the twenty-first century. They are as relevant now as they were then.
David Keller is an Episcopal priest who was the steward of the Episcopal House of Prayer at St. Johnís Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. He leads retreats at various retreat centers in the United States. His previous book was Tenía Religious Life.
This book is quite intense and is not meant for everyone. It takes a while to read and requires pondering on what has been read. Some foreknowledge about monasticism is needed to understand this book. Those of the monastic life or familiar enough with monastic life will gain a better knowledge and understanding of the Desert Abbas and Ammas. Keller relates monastic life to living in the world as best as one can. This is what oblates try to do. Oblates are lay people, Catholic and non-Catholic, who try to follow the Rule of St. Benedict and are associated with a particular Benedictine monastery while living and working in the world.
The back of the book includes maps so that the reader can see what places Keller is talking about. There is a bibliography and indices, and at the end of each chapter there are end-notes for further study.
Some of the subjects Keller deals with are an introduction to the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the daily life of monks, meeting God in the cell or room, patience, silence, prayer, labor, and humility. Keller quotes extensively from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers and other early Christian sources like John Cassian and St. Pachomiusí Rule.
Oasis of Wisdom is recommended to those of the monastic life, oblates, and those who want to deepen their spiritual life. This book also shows what early Christianity has to offer compared to other Eastern religions or New Age religion, how mystical and practical Christianity is. A person does not have to leave Christianity to find this.