How We Pray with the Egyptian Desert Fathers

Praying Vespers immerses a person in the Church's traditions.  There is a deep purposefulness in almost everything.  One of the traditions from the earliest of times comes from the Egyptian Desert Fathers.  St. John Cassian recounts the advice given to a companion of his by Abba Isaac:

"There is a Scripture verse that every monk intent on the continual remembrance of God regularly ponders.  He ceaselessly turns it over in his heart after ridding himself of every other thought because he cannot possibly hold on to this remembrance unless he has freed himself from all bodily care and anxieties.  This Scripture verse was handed over to us by a few of those who were left from the oldest Fathers, and we do not let just anyone know about it -- just those rare people who truly thirst for it."  

The special formula comes from Psalm 70:1:  "O God, come to my assistance.  O Lord, make haste to help me."  These are the first words that we pray at the start of every Vespers.

Listen for it when you next pray Vespers and consider the wisdom underlying these simple words, handed down from generation to generation, saint to saint.  

Leave a comment