(Upon my second reading)
“Arsenius, flee, be silent, pray always, for these for these are the sources of sinlessness.”
A valuable retrospective on the prayer life of the Desert Fathers, and Eastern Orthodoxy. Drawing on the main themes of solitude, silence and prayer, Nouwen offers an alternative to the western church’s going-through-the-motions approach to following Christ.
“Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing can we show our wounds; only with a single-minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our true nature.”
The most jarring note is Nouwen’s 1981 malaise. All right-thinking folks of that era were full bore gloom and doom. Mankind was doomed; the only way out of the Cold War was a civilization, if not planet-ending global nuclear war. Remember Jimmy Carter donning his wool sweater and turning down the White House heat? And Reagan? All right-thinking folks were sure we’d just elected an idiot who would only hasten the apocalypse. Only it didn’t turn out that way, did it? Thirty years later much has changed and much hasn’t.
“I have often repented of having spoken, but never of having remained silent.” Arsenius