On Monastic Writers

A monastic writer is an anomaly. He writes apologetically. His words are pedagogic.

The desert fathers write briefly. Their words are lapidary. Their aphorisms and narratives are memory-pegs, and are merely complementary to personal, verbal instruction, as from an elder to his disciples. Under his direct guidance, misinterpretation is avoided.

The elders structure their sayings to be understood on two levels. They can be received without harm by the simple and inexperienced, whose comprehension is shallow; and they can be understood by grace when disciples are making progress in the depths of practical life.

The same holds true when monks write for general, popular use, although this is an extraordinary and dangerous situation, both for him and his readers. Such books should be read under instruction, along with empirical knowledge gained through liturgical experience.

Even rarer are holy monk-philosophers who can write true theology, explaining dogma with precision.

The best that bloggers (like myself) can do is be a cautionary presence in the internet’s wastelands, warning you to leave this place. There is no Church here, neither in books, videos and podcasts.

Without Church life, without spiritual instruction, all monastic literature is vainly imaginative, conceptual and figurative, wherever you find it.

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