The works of Evagrius, few of which are preserved entire in Greek, survive haphazardly: in anthologies; in quotations; in ancient Syriac, Armenian, or Latin translations; or in pseudonymous collections ascribed to more acceptable authors, such as St. Basil or St. Because of the complexity of the manuscript tradition, editing Evagrius's writings is an ongoing, painstaking process. Below is the list of all known works, along with editions and translations in the bibliography. The Clavis patrum graecorum CPG , supplemented by recent scholarship, has been followed for assigning certainty of authorship.

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Log In Sign Up. Meredith Cutrer. All quotes from the Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer are from this translation unless otherwise noted.

Evagrius learned and taught in some of the most important religious circles in his era. All quotes from the Great Letter are from this translation. All quotes from Ad Monachos are from this translation. He encourages monks to engage in careful observation of their demonic enemies. In this manner we shall…pack them off This is especially true for hermits who are the frequent target of the fiercest demonic attacks.

Evagrius warns, …the unpure…do not know the contemplation of these things and even if they learned it from others and chanted it, they would not be heard, owing to the profusion of dust clouds and clamour raised in battle by the passions. For it is absolutely necessary to quieten the encampment of the foreigners so that Goliath alone goes to meet our David. In order to quell the passions, a monk must first live a lifestyle conducive to the cleansing of his soul. For Evagrius, sins are a corruption of virtue and thus a deviance from the original design.

This achievement marks one of his greatest original contributions to monastic theology. All quotes from On Thoughts are from this translation. Anthony P. Gythiel New York: St. His readers can discern through study which spirit is plaguing them and respond appropriately. For Evagrius, the spiritual life starts with praktike, the ascetic regimen intended to purify the soul and cultivate virtues.

Then the soul, filled with virtue, is able to return to its intended state — that for which it was created. Ultimately the goal of ascetical practice is to rid the mind of all passions, images, and thoughts of tangible creation in order to approach God through a prayer that is undefiled and undistracted — that is, to engage in pure prayer. Nor can the mind that is enslaved to passion see the place of spiritual prayer.

It is dragged along and tossed by passion-filled thoughts and cannot stand firm and tranquil. Evagrius boldly states that a person afflicted with passions strives in vain for true prayer until he or she first rightly orders his soul. All quotes from Excerpts are from this translation. On the contrary, it stirs up the resentment of God against itself. They are the passionate, or the irrational, parts of the soul and directly interact with the created world.

Instead they must develop continence, charity, and temperance. At the highest level of the soul, the rational is home to the passions of vainglory and pride, but when properly cultivated, the rational soul produces wisdom, comprehension of spiritual truths, and discretion. Michael J. Miller San Francisco: Ignatius Press, , Spiritual progression is marked by the replacement of passion with virtue. As the monk advances, the three parts of the soul begin to work together so that the rational part — the part that is created in the image of God42 - is able to enjoy once again intimacy with God.

The two passionate parts of the soul join the soul to the body and are more directly influenced by the created world.

Their health and purity are essential to restore the rational to its original purpose. The lower parts collaborate to keep the soul passionless so that the rational part can focus on knowledge rather than the passions which serve only to cloud the mind. The three parts of the soul form a unit in which no part can be neglected if the mind is to contemplate God in his true, undifferentiated form.

Apatheia is no mere passivity, lack of desire, or lack of emotion. However, thoughts no longer have the power to sway or undermine his or her self- control. Whereas the mind of a person who has not achieved apatheia is upset at the daily struggles everyone faces, the person who has reached passionlessness retains an inner calm that is not subject to outward circumstances. Evagrius analyzes the way in which the demons will seize such passionate thoughts, memories, and even dreams inherent in a corrupted soul to lead a monk astray.

Again, how they set the memory in motion must be explored. Is it perhaps through the passions? Clearly so, from the fact that those who are pure and imperturbable never suffer such an incident. Evagrius explicitly states, Why do the demons wish to commit acts of gluttony, impurity, avarice, wrath, resentment, and other evil passions in us?

When monks begin their active pursuit of virtue, demons attack more viciously. Then all of a sudden they attack him from this point and ravage the poor fellow. By means of such signs our enemies perceive whether we have conceived their thought within us and bring it forth or Evagrius teaches that demons attack the ascetic through the eight passions, so examining them is important.

An understanding of the passions and demonic manipulation of them gives the monks power to vanquish demons in battle. Evagrius instructs monks to be keen observers of their enemy. He states, …let him keep watch over his thoughts. Let him observe their intensity, their periods of decline, and follow them as they rise and fall. Let him note well the complexity of his thoughts, their periodicity, the demons which cause them, with the order of their succession and the nature of their associations.

Then let him ask from Christ the explanation of these data he has observed. Evagrius encourages prayer, especially in nightly vigils, to combat demons.

For instance, situations or memories that formerly aroused passion no longer upset them; rather, they now remain at peace.

We call apatheia the health of the soul. One of the most significant signs that a person has achieved apatheia is the calmness and clarity of mind that allows prayer without distraction. He reiterates the point again in another work, highlighting its centrality to his ascetical theory. The soul that is imperturbable is not the one that does not suffer in the presence of things, but rather the one that is calm even at their memories.

Humans, as fallen beings in a world of distractions and demonic attacks, must constantly protect this state of the soul. A healthy fear of the Lord enables a person to preserve apatheia with the help of humility and genuine contrition for sins.

The cultivation of apatheia is worth striving for because it is an essential part of genuine Christian growth. Palladius gives details on how Evagrius practiced asceticism. It was winter at the time and his flesh froze. While these acts were intended to fight specific demons, his daily routine consisted of denial in order to purify himself as well.

Though Evagrius carefully guarded his diet, it is important to note that he still allowed alterations to his regimen based upon his circumstances. In his literature, he emphasized the need for a balanced asceticism. There are events which warrant more food or water, namely in acting hospitably toward others or when the body is too weak to 81 Palladius, Lausiac History, For untimely and immoderate practices are harmful. And what is short-lived is more harmful than profitable.

All quotations of this text are from this translation. The amount of attention Evagrius gives to the practical, day-to-day lifestyle of the ascetic life indicates its importance. In fact, he doubted whether a person could be righteous and a worthy spiritual warrior if his or her lifestyle allowed for indulgences. He repeats this theme in a number of his writings.

It is impossible for one to overcome these passions without completely scorning food and wealth and glory Let your fast equal your strength in the sight of the Lord. It will purify your iniquities and sins, magnify your soul, sanctify your purpose, drive off the demons, and prepare you to be near God. Eat once per day, and do not desire a second meal, otherwise you will become extravagant and trouble your purpose.

If he does, it allows for cleansing in his soul and the riddance of passions, making him a more apt spiritual warrior. It will also allow the ascetic to draw close to God. Evagrius advises a person to avoid expensive delicacies and excessive food which he states is eating more than once a day. He advocates a lifestyle including reading sacred works, prayer, vigils, and singing Psalms. Hunger, toil, and solitude are the means of extinguishing the flames of desire.

Turbid anger is calmed by the singing of Psalms, by patience and almsgiving. While Evagrius warns about the dangers of indulgence and praises the benefits of a well-regulated fast, he also advises his audience to avoid excess in other facets of their life as well.

Ascetics should not desire any type of worldly wealth and deceive themselves by reasoning that they are saving for charitable purposes, for even in that the devil lays a trap, hoping to burden them with worldly business.

Become like a skilled businessman, examining everything with an eye to stillness and keeping only such still things as contribute to it…. Evagrius concedes that humans cannot love all people to an equal degree, but apatheia allows for the soul to love all people so that at the very least passionless monks can live at peace with their fellow humans and recognize their intrinsic value as an image of their Maker. But it is possible to associate with all in a manner that is above passion, that is to say, free of resentment and hatred.

While asceticism which produces apatheia allows love to develop fully, it is only through love that a monk can go to knowledge, or gnostike. See Harmless, Desert Christians, Finally, to this knowledge succeed theology and the supreme beatitude. Undistracted prayer is the highest act of the intellect.


Evagrius Ponticus: The Praktikos Chapters On Prayer

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The Praktikos & Chapters On Prayer

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