The great treasure of Christian literature known as the Evergetinos takes its name from the monk Paul Evergetinos, the founder of an 11th century monastery in Constantinople dedicated to the Theotokos “the Benefactress” (ἡ μονὴ τῆς Εὐεργέτιδος)
The great ascetics of the Egyptian desert feature in almost every hypothesis, with excerpts from the Apophthegmata of the Fathers, the Lausaic History of Palladius, the writings of St Cassian and the Lives of St Euthymius the Great, St Pachomius the Great and Amma Syncletica, which are complemented by extracts from the Dialogues of St Gregory the Great (the “Latin Gerontikon”). The writings of Saints Isaac and Ephraim of Syria, St Mark the Ascetic, St Basil the Great, St Diadochus of Photike, St Maximus the Confessor, St Isaiah of Scetis, St Zosima of Palestine and Saints Barsanuphius and John are combined with excerpts from the lives of many popular Saints and Martyrs in a remarkable synthesis which enriches each hypothesis with a multitude of proven, living examples of Orthodox Christian spirituality.
These extracts from the Fathers and Mothers of the Church are taken from the years towards the end of the Roman persecution, the time of the Arian and Nestorian heresies and the time of the Iconoclast heresy. The context here matters, because it shows us that living a spiritual life is possible no matter what the context is. Even in times of hardship and tribulation, when the Christian faith was under attack from both the inside and the outside, these people cultivated their virtues and gave us these lessons for our spiritual benefit many years later.
The Evergetinos became a much-loved practical spiritual guide for countless monastics and laypeople throughout the ages, but was in danger of falling into obscurity during the years of the Turkish occupation, until St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain brought it to the light of publication. In his prologue to the first edition (1783), he concludes with the following words: “All of you who are partakers of the heavenly Orthodox calling, who desire to adorn your souls with every kind of virtue, put forth your arms and receive this sacred embrace with much joy. Thus, in your love for the Fathers, you might everyday seek their counsel, ordering your life according to their wise, time-tested and God-given instructions; and in becoming practitioners of virtue, you may give glory to the God of all.”
The translation of this work is split into four volumes, with each volume containing fifty hypotheses. It is available for purchase from the Orthodox Mission Bookstore (click here for a link) and is a great investment to make in advancing one’s spiritual life. If read with attention and reflection on the messages conveyed by these great elders and Saints, it will be of great benefit.
Source: Lychnos December 2017 / January 2018 (edited 24 August 2018)