Thursday, June 17, 2010

Previous Course Study Materials Available

We are now making study materials from our previous seminar, The Early Church at Prayer and Worship, available for purchase.  They can be used for individual or group study.  Please visit our study materials page for more information.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Spiritual Meadow

In the late sixth and early seventh centuries, a monk named John Moschus visited many of the monasteries and hermits in the Middle East.  He wrote The Spiritual Meadow, a collection of stories told by the people he encountered.  It contains all sorts of accounts: conversions, visions, strange miracles, and great deeds of faith.  In the prologue, John describes the purpose of the book this way:
It is obvious to all, my beloved son, that the meadows present their most beautiful appearance in Springtime, with its pleasing variety of flowers of every sort, demanding the attention of all who gaze, impossible to ignore, beneficial in all sorts of ways, for they delight the eyes and give pleasure to the sense of smell...Think of this present work like this, Sophronius, my holy and most faithful son, since you will find in it the virtues of the holy men who have enlightened our time "planted by the running waters", as the Psalmist says (Psalms 1.3). And though all of them are acceptable to God and of great grace, yet each one of them is distinguished by some particular grace more than the others, so that out of this great variety of virtues arises a charming picture of pleasing beauty...It is not only right belief and meditation on divine truth which lead to a life and morals of integrity, but also the examples of other people, and written accounts of their virtuous lives.
In reading this work, I have found that it functions as John intended.  While sometimes the practices and experiences of these Christians seem quite foreign to us, they served God with an intensity rarely seen today.  The work is a beautiful testament to the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives.  Here is just one of the stories he recounts:
In this same monastery of Turrius there was an old man who was a great lover of almsgiving, even to the extent of holy nakedness. For one day a beggar came to his cell seeking alms. The old man had nothing to give him but one loaf which he offered to the beggar.
"It's not bread I want but clothing," said the beggar.
The old man wanted to help him so he took him by the hand and led him inside his cell. The beggar could not see anything inside but what the old man stood up in, but driven by his virtuous nature the old man opened the only moneybag he had by taking off everything he wore, saying: "Take these, good sir, and I will seek elsewhere for what I need."
The entire work is available online.

Update: The link above only has the first 85 chapters, out of 214.  Here is the full work on another site.  (The whole book is spread over a number of pages; click "Next" at the bottom to go to the next page.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fall Seminar on Scripture

Registration is now open for our Fall Seminar, the Early Church in Devotion to Scripture.  This one will be held at The Upper Room church in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA.  It will also be available online.

I encourage you to consider taking this seminar.  We will be reading some of the greatest Scripture teachers in Christian history.

Friday, May 28, 2010

House of St. Michael the Archangel Blog

The House of St. Michel the Archangel is Tim and Matt's vision for a community immersed in the Scriptures and the Fathers. They seek to "operate a house with a life of worship, prayer, and reflection on the Scriptures and the historic Christian Faith, for a total Christian perspective on existence."  Read more about their vision here.

They have launched a new blog, which will feature regular reflections on ancient Christian writings.  I invite you to check it out.  Two reflections are already posted, and each is very challenging and thought-provoking.