I just finished this book a few days ago, and highly recommend it. Merton, who is an incredibly skilled writer, gives a brief introduction to the desert ascetic fathers that is quite insightful. Merton offers clear reasoning why these individuals fled society to pursue holiness alone. I’d say in a world as loud and distracting as ours, we would do well to consider how we too might retreat from the world (although not necessarily physically) to pursue with relentless fervor the holiness of the Lord.
The quotes Merton selects from the desert fathers cover a wide range of specific topics, but they all are concerned with personal holiness. These individuals stressed the significance of bringing about the Kingdom of God personally before one is able to bring it about communally. Makes sense, right?
Reading through the selection of sayings from the desert fathers showed me that I’m not the first person to struggle with certain vices. Some of the questions asked sounded like they could’ve come from my own mouth. And, the answers given were freeing, humbling, and convicting at the same time.
Merton is now two-for-two for me. Merton has broadened my horizons and shown me sources of encouragement I will return to again and again.