Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Evergetinos: A Spiritual Goldmine

If you are interested in investing in a nice set of books that will give you years of spiritual reading then you may be interested in the four volume set titled, 'The Evergetinos." (Pronounced ev-er-ye-te-nos') The work has been around for centuries, yet this is a relatively new (2008) English translation produced by the Center for Traditionalist Orthodox Studies. They did a nice job with the quality of the books, which are printed in two colors, black and red, as well as gold embossed text on the covers and spine. (Hardback). They have hardback and paperback available. I opted for the hardback set, being that this set will be used a lot and I want something that would last. Although produced by an Orthodox publisher, the text contained in these volumes is predominantly written prior to the gradual rupture between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. So I think they can be of great benefit to well read Catholics as well.

The title bears the name of the monastery from which it came, originally compiled by an Eastern monk named Paul sometime between the years of 1049 and 1054. The four volume set is a compilation of wisdom from the monastic fathers of the Church, predominately from the East. Some of the spiritual fathers contained in the set are Saint Basil, Saint Ephraim, Saint John Cassian, Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Makarios, Saint Pachomios, and the list goes on and on. Each volume is about 400 pages and the work is a treasure trove of spiritual advice compiled under spiritual subject matters each titled a "hypothesis." Each hypothesis is a statement relating to a spiritual matter such as, "As long as we are in the present life, we must do good here and not delay until the future. For after death we cannot set things aright." Then a series of writings or quotes by many monastic fathers follow to elaborate on the hypothesis. For example here is an excerpt from the great St. Ephraim the Syrian elaborating on the above quoted hypothesis.

Brothers and sisters, the period of time which we have at our disposal for repentance is our life on earth. Indeed, happy and blissful is he who has never once fallen into the nets of the Enemy. If, however, someone who was entangled in the nets of the Enemy has been able to break those nets and escape from the captivity of the Devil, he too should consider himself blessed; for, though we live in the flesh, in this way we are saved from the onslaught of the enemy of our souls, just as a fish escapes from the nets of the fisherman. Be- cause, as we know, if a fish is caught and succeeds in breaking the net and dashing to the depths, he is saved as long as he is in water; but when he is dragged up in the net by the fisherman to dry land, then he can no longer help himself.

The exact same thing happens to us: that is, as long as we live in the present life, we have received from God the authority and power to break the bonds of the evil intentions of the enemy by ourselves and to cast aside, through repentance, the burden of our sins, be- ing most assuredly brought to salvation and inheriting the Kingdom of God. However, if the fearful command of death falls upon us and the soul leaves the body, and the body is placed deep in the tomb, then we are no longer able to help ourselves, just as the fish, when it is taken out of water, after being caught by the fisher- man and safely placed in his fishing basket, cannot in any way be saved.

 This set will undoubtedly provide you years of reading pleasure and spiritual advice that you can apply to your life. The books can be purchased in single volumes in paperback ($33 ea), allowing you to acquire the set over time, the hardback version however is only available as a set. The books do not come cheap as a set. ($120 for the paperback set and $240 for the hardback) I have been wanting to buy this work for a couple of years now, and I am happy to have finally purchased the hardback set. You can purchase and read more about 'The Evergetinos' set here, learn more about the history of it here, and you can go here to see a sample of the first book. This set may not be for everyone, but if you are interested in the wisdom of the monastics you will probably really enjoy it.


Justin said...

Sounds like a great set of books. I've always had an interest in the Christian East. By the way, do you know of any Eastern Rite parish anywhere in the diocese of St, Augustine or Orlando? (I assume you are in Florida too because of your Fr. Fryar and Christ the King in Sarasota stuff.)

Matthew Bellisario said...

Hi Justin, there are a couple. St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Church is in Orlando off of Sand Lake Rd.

There is a Maronite Mission in Jacksonville. I am not sure what else is around there.

If you are over in the St. Pete, Tampa area there is a bit more to choose from.