With the practical aim of guiding the brothers at his monastery in the wilderness
of northern California, Fr. Seraphim Rose set out to select and translate these
counsels of Saints Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet, Desert Fathers
of 6th-century Palestine. He found that many of the questions posed to Saints
Barsanuphius and John were not unlike those asked by Christian strugglers of
today. The answers of the saints expose the nature of the vices, and show how
to overcome them and acquire virtue.
"Brother! He who desires to be saved and to become a son of God must
acquire great humility, obedience, submission and meekness. Behold: you asked
what you should do. I told you this, and I vouch for it, that neither the enemy
nor passion will take possession of you. For they are consumed by humility as
by fire, and the heart finds repose, being enlightened by Christ, to Whom may
there be glory. Amen."—St. Barsanuphius the Great, Answer
It is clear from these counsels that the Elders do not care to exert personal
power over those under them: with divine vision they see the eternal souls of
their disciples, and the salvation of these souls is their one and only concern
in offering guidance.
"We must come to the Holy Fathers with the humble intention of 'beginning
spiritual life at the lowest step,' and not even dreaming of ourselves
attaining those exalted spiritual states which are totally beyond us."—Fr.
Guidance Toward Spiritual Life also includes the Life of Saints Barsanuphius
and John by Saint Nicodemus of Mount Athos, as well as selected passages from
the Spiritual Homilies of St. Macarius the Great of Egypt.
Softbound. 182 pp.