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“One of the hermits asked the great Nesteros, who was a friend of Antony, ‘what good work shall I do?’ and he replied, ‘Surely all works please God equally? Scripture says, Abraham was hospitable and God was with him; Elijah loved quiet and God was with him; David was humble and God was with him.’ So whatever you find you are drawn to in following God’s will, do it and let your heart be at peace.” (The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks. De Vitis Patrum, sive Verba Seniorum, Liber V, by Pelagius and John)

I wrote on the inside cover of this book (and I can’t remember if it was Dr. Smith or someone else!): “To the extent to which we have reduced Christianity to social justice, to that extent the desert fathers will offend us.”

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