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  What can we learn from the Desert Fathers & Mothers? Back to the List of Slideshows
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The author tells us that when we enter our heart we discover the “essence of the desert message,” namely, “that we are not in control of ourselves, we are wounded.” He explains that the essence of facing oneself is to face our “passions.” Some may view the passions as our sins, our transgressions against God, but the author reframes this understanding by explaining that:
Passions are our inner wounds, those deep marks in the space of our heart that require healing. In the mind of the desert elders, this means that those passions need to be attended to and tended. If we are going to be a healing presence in the world, then we need to comprehend our passions.
There are many kinds of passions, but Rev. Chryssavgis tells us that there are two basic ways of understanding the passions: One is to view the passions as sins or vices to be subdued and eradicated; the other is to view the passions as God-given natural forces that have become misdirected and need to be mastered and redirected for God’s purposes. Each view calls for a different approach, but each approach requires courage, humility and acceptance.
The Desert Fathers and Mothers recognized that it takes a long time to become a human being. It takes an infinitely patient waiting to put together all the variegated parts of the human heart. Moreover, in the unnoticeable changes toward ever-growing perfection, it is the things that we love that reveal to us who we are. It is the things to which we are most attached that show us where our priorities lie. It is our very imperfections—what they like to call passions, and what we invariably call our wounds—that lead us to the way of perfection.
Abba Moses the Ethiopian,
"the soft-natured robber"

Icon from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston
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