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The Evergetinos: A Complete Text (vol 4)

Author(s):   Desert Fathers
Publisher:   Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies (2008)
Format:   Paperback
Copies:   1 copy available
Comments:   Book Description

The Evergetinos, compiled by St. Makarios of Corinth and first published by St. Nicodemos in 1783, is a companion volume of The Philokalia—indeed a precursor, of sorts, to that work. One of the classic collections of Orthodox spiritual writings, the Evergetinos is a source of inspiration, spiritual guidance, and insight into the lives of men and women who, during the first few centuries of Christianity, attained to the highest ideals of the spiritual life. In the spiritual laboratory of the Egyptian deserts, these seekers after salvation, enlightenment, and union with Christ brought into sharp focus the teachings of the Apostles and the message of Holy Writ in their daily lives and activities.

Divided up into many different “hypothesis” pertaining to a true Christian life, these books offer stories and advice taken from the lives of the Desert Fathers for each one.

In determining which Orthodox books to read,
Dr. Constantine Cavarnos shares a comment from an Athonite Father about these books

“Great value for the striver is also ascribed by the holy men of Athos to reading (a) the lives of saints, (b) The Evergetinos, and (c) The Philokalia. Once I asked a saintly monk, the hermit Gabriel who dwelt at Karoulia—the most secluded and inaccessible region of the Holy Mountain—whether he recommended The Philokalia to persons like me who live in the “world.” He replied: “The Philokalia is an excellent work, but it is for those advanced in the spiritual life. To use an analogy, it is ‘university education.’ First, one has to go to ‘grammar school,’ next to ‘high school,’ and only then is he ready to go to a ‘university.”

“Should one start with The Evergetinos?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “this, too, is advanced. It is ‘high school.’ One must start with something more elementary. One should read simple lives of saints, in order to learn what kind of persons they were, how they lived, and what they did. Then one can proceed to the higher steps.”

Therefore, “we may say that simple lives of saints are “pure spiritual milk for spiritual babes;” the Evergetinos is a kind of mixed fare, comprising both spiritual milk and solid spiritual food; while the Philokalia provides only “solid food.”

Product Info:   Table of contents

“Hypocrites, the greedy, and those who are voluptuous in this life resemble roses, which last just a short while and which one quickly sees trampled upon, as though they were weeds without worth. Disdain all things that transform a man into a beast; for, when life is made dirty by sin, as a natural consequence the soul will also be soiled. In such circumstances, people must repent and lament, because they will certainly suffer punishment for their stupid acts. Therefore, have no desire to become rich, or to be honored, for all of these things will destroy you—and we were not created by God to be destroyed. Consider all of these things corruptible; only virtue survives uncorrupted, and it is for virtue that you must be concerned. Indeed, by the lofty philosophy of virtue, man is shown to be God by Grace.”
—“Hypothesis I: That a monastic has vowed to live in poverty; what the sign is of one not wishing material goods; and how the Fathers succeeded in living in poverty.”

CONTENTS

Hypothesis I
That a monastic has vowed to live in poverty; what the sign is of one not wishing material goods; and how the Fathers succeeded in living in poverty.
Hypothesis II
Corporeal charity is required of laymen, when they are not poor, since they enjoy endless benefits therefrom. Simple believers should practice this kind of charity with all of their might, offering the choicest from what they possess.
Hypothesis III
The passion of greed is the most destructive of all the other passions.
Hypothesis IV
From whence comes forth the love of God, how it is expressed, and what its works are.
Hypothesis V
That the greatest achievement among the virtues is silence (hesychia), when one living in silence does so with full knowledge of its meaning; greatness of soul is needed to achieve this. What silence with knowledge is and how one may achieve it.
Hypothesis VI
In what way and from whence one derives strength to gain victory over one’s thoughts, and to what extent we are not responsible for the thoughts that come to us.
Hypothesis VII
That aimless wandering of the mind and forgetfulness spell death for the believer, even as unceasing remembrance and the vision of God constitute life for him and deliverance from every evil.
Hypothesis VIII
That we must pray unceasingly; what unceasing prayer is and how it is achieved.
Hypothesis IX
That one who is always walled about by prayer is impregnable to his noetic enemies; for this reason we must be diligent in cultivating prayer.
Hypothesis X
What the power of prayer is; that through prayer every good thing is given to the man of God; that through prayer man is united to God.
Hypothesis XI
That he who asks something from God should not ask for that which he desires, but that which is in his interest, according to the judgment of God.
Hypothesis XII
He who asks of God what is beneficial for his soul must also gladly accept that which is sent by Divine Providence, even if it is opposed to the desire and will of the petitioner.
Hypothesis XIII
Prayer must be strengthened by the performance of good deeds; what things render prayer acceptable to God.
Hypothesis XIV
Our prayer is not acceptable when we have enmity against another, or when others have enmity against us and we do not take care to reconcile with them.
Hypothesis XV
It is necessary for a faithful Christian to read Holy Scripture; and great is the benefit therefrom.
Hypothesis XVI
That which we read we must also put into action; for salvation is achieved by deeds, not by words. For this reason, knowledge alone is of no benefit. The spiritual person should not limit himself to the words of a text, but rather seek to understand their higher meaning and spirit.
Hypothesis XVII
We must not, moved by pride, greatly pry into the lofty meaning of Scripture or dogmatic matters that surpass human reason; nor should we try to comprehend the judgments of God.
Hypothesis XVIII
A believer should abstain from knowledge falsely so called and must not consort with heretics. What true wisdom in God is, and that certain people would do well to live in simplicity, far from such discussions.
Hypothesis XIX
Demons can do nothing against the faithful; hence, we must hold them in contempt, not take fright on account of them, and pay them no heed, whatever they do. How one discerns whether a vision proceeds from the demons or from the Angels; for demons frequently create illusions, in order to lead the simple-minded astray and to bring a (false) consolation to the soul. Regarding which visions are Divine and which are satanic.
Hypothesis XX
Dreams appear in divers manners, for which reason it is safer not to place our trust in them. Nothing of the future is known to the demons, though they pretend to know certain things, foretelling them as if from their own knowledge.
Hypothesis XXI
That the demons do not at all know what is in the heart of man, or which passions overcome us; they can discern these only by what we say and do.
Hypothesis XXII
What the measure of dispassion is, what its traits are, and how a man acquires these.
Hypothesis XXIII
How and when one should touch upon theology; what constitutes theological wisdom and what is reckoned knowledge; what the difference is between them and how the mind is made worthy of them.
Hypothesis XXIV
How and whence the mind becomes a partaker of the Grace of God and is led up to the vision of God, and how it is maintained in this state of Grace.
Hypothesis XXV
In how many ways Divine withdrawal and abandonment occur, and what we should do in such instances, so that Divine Grace might again come upon us.
Hypothesis XXVI
Spiritual contemplation excites the spiritual mind and causes it to forget all earthly things. Divine Grace becomes all things to those perfected: nourishment, drink, and raiment. For this reason, many of the Saints, strengthened by Divine Grace, either gave no heed whatever to these material resources or accounted them of least worth, thus overcoming the boundaries of nature.
Hypothesis XXVII
The rank of Priest is a great rank; therefore, a believer must not seek after it. On the contrary, out of reverence, one should renounce the call thereto, if indeed he believes that his calling is not according to the Will of God, but from human zeal. A believer should act in a similar way whenever he is called to any position of authority or to work as a Teacher.
Hypothesis XXVIII
Regarding the Priesthood, that he who unworthily carries out the duties of a Priest lays up for himself the most severe punishment, while, on the contrary, he who serves as a Priest with care and remains worthy of his profession is benefited greatly in his soul.
Hypothesis XXIX
Daily Liturgy occasions great benefit; for this reason, we find that this was a practice among the Fathers. In the Liturgy, heavenly and earthly things are united.
Hypothesis XXX
Not just for the living, but also for those who have reposed, oblations provide great aid.
Hypothesis XXXI
After death, there is not forgiveness, except for very light sins, and this only with the greatest difficulty. As for those whose acts have merited them Hell, it is impossible for them to exit therefrom.
Hypothesis XXXII
What the nature of the Sanctified Gifts (the Mystery of the Divine Eucharist) is, what their power is, and how one should approach them.
Hypothesis XXXIII
How and when we should approach Communion of the Sacred Gifts and in what state our consciences should be.
Hypothesis XXXIV
Regular Communion is very beneficial, while, on the contrary, infrequent Communion is harmful and dangerous.
Hypothesis XXXV
Any who are under ban (excommunicated) and not communing during the Divine Liturgy should exit the Church together with the Catechumens.
Hypothesis XXXVI
That burial in the Church benefits the faithful, but incurs further punishment on those condemned to eternal fire.
Hypothesis XXXVII
That a sumptuous burial also brings no small harm to the soul; wherefore, lovers of God greatly desire and prefer humble and inglorious burial.
Hypothesis XXXVIII
That teaching is not the work of just anyone, but only of one foreordained by Divine Providence as fit for such: he who puts into practice what he teaches and who has conquered his passions. He who does not have an aptitude for education must watch over himself lest, wishing to instruct others, he should neglect and harm himself. There are some—though rare—who are from the beginning guided directly by the Holy Spirit. Not only are they not in need of human advice and guidance, but they are even able to become the spiritual guides of others. We should marvel at such people, but not attempt to imitate them, ignoring our own weakness.
Hypothesis XXXIX
That for one who makes judgments by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, whatever his judgment may be, it is in accordance with God, even if he is not a Priest. Teaching others is permitted by God not only to Priests, but also to men who are pure in soul. What the mystical Priest­hood is. In what manner those in the desert may partake of the Immaculate Mysteries, if there is no Priest.
Hypothesis XL
That the true Shepherd must readily undergo every danger for the sake of his sheep and care wholeheartedly for them.
Hypothesis XLI
Those who have received the gift from God to teach, to the ex­tent that they take care to increase the circles of those whom they teach, will correspondingly enjoy greater Grace. For this reason, they should teach indefatigably. And those who listen to their teachings with indifference will be subject to insufferable chastisement. A Superior must remain in his monastery and have a second in command to attend to the brothers.
Hypothesis XLII
No one should teach or test those who are not in submission to him, even if they should be sinning, unless they should request such; nor should one even come to their defense, if they are wronged.
Hypothesis XLIII
We should not conduct ourselves autocratically towards our disciples or assign to them work that is inapposite. All that is assigned with humility of mind and with a clean conscience the Grace of God will bring to an auspicious end.
Hypothesis XLIV
We should not criticize someone who does some good thing, even if it is perhaps imperfect; on the contrary, we should reinforce his good intention and incite him, bit by bit, to perfection.
Hypothesis XLV
The Abbot should instruct the weaker of the brothers in obedience, patience, and other ascetic feats by the example of the stronger; and in all things, he should be lenient with the inexperienced.
Hypothesis XLVI
You should not ask of everyone the same ascetic feats, but only in keeping with the former life of each and according to the strength of each.
Hypothesis XLVII
That we should especially care for the weak and be most accommodating with them in circumstances in which they do not violate some command of God, so that they do not suffer scandal. The successes and sins of each individual are judged according to his strength and knowledge.
Hypothesis XLVIII
That we must not immediately oppress with sharp rebukes one who has sinned and is on the verge of despair, but must comfort him tenderly and strive with kindness to raise him from his fall. Likewise, if one has departed from the cœnobion and has thereafter returned, we must receive him affably.
Hypothesis XLIX
That an Abbot must not remain silent when those under his direction sin, but must chastise and reprove them, trying by every means to cure them.
Hypothesis L
That he who sins incorrigibly and brings harm to the brotherhood by his persistence must be expelled if, after appropriate care has been taken to bring benefit to him, nothing is achieved; and that the Abbot must not, out of excessive compassion, allow both himself and the rest of the brotherhood to come to harm.
Glossary of General Terms in Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christianity
Index of Selected Names in Book IV
Index of Selected Subjects in Book IV