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The Desert Mothers: Spiritual Practices from the Women of the Wilderness

By Mary C. Earle (Author)
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Item Number 93744  
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Item Specifications...

Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 4.9" Width: 5.6" Height: 0.7"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  CD
Release Date   Aug 1, 2008
Publisher   Morehouse Publishing
ISBN  0819223336  
EAN  9780819223333  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In the same format as Holy Companions and the forthcoming Praying with the Anglican Saints, this book includes summaries of the thoughts and spiritual approaches of the Desert Mothers, along with spiritual practices based on their writings. Although scholars have paid attention to the Desert Mothers, general lay audiences have only had access to writings by the Desert Fathers. Unlike most of the scholarly books on the market, this book popularizes the writings and the thinking of the Desert Mothers of the early Church, and applies them to contemporary life.

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More About Mary C. Earle

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Mary C. Earle, an Episcopal priest, retreat leader and spiritual director, is the author of Julian of Norwich: Selections from Revelations of Divine Love Annotated & Explained; The Desert Mothers: Spiritual Practices from the Women of the Wilderness and Celtic Christian Spirituality: Essential Writings Annotated and Explained; she co-authored Holy Companions: Spiritual Practices from the Celtic Saints and Praying with the Celtic Saints. In addition to four books on the spirituality of living with illness, she has written for She has been introducing the writings of Julian in seminary classes, retreats and conferences for over twenty years.

Mary C. Earle is available to speak on the following topics:

The Weaving of Heaven and Earth: Celtic Christian Spirituality for Today Befriending: The Heart of Celtic Prayer and Practice The Book of Creation The Desert Mothers The Gift of Divine Rhythms: Sabbath Rest

Mary C. Earle currently resides in San Antonio.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Women   [3239  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General   [11744  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Introduction to Powerful Mystic Women - You Don't Have to be Christian to Appreciate  Feb 3, 2010
This book introduced me to the Desert Mothers, although I have since read more about them. Mary Earle does a wonderful job of setting the stage, by explaining the way Christianity developed and the historical conditions that led to these women (along with their counterparts, the Desert Fathers) heading out into the desert. She also gives us a sense of what their lives were like. Then she elucidates the primary themes of their spiritual journeys through the few quotes and little biographical information that have come down to us.

I think this is an important book, for several reasons. 1) It helps to re-imagine and re-claim early Christianity for women, making it clear there were many women that related directly to the teachings and example of Jesus from early on. 2) It adds to the body of literature on these early ascetic Christians, both men and women, who are often only known to monastic practitioners. And 3) It offers women of any background and faith mentors and models to look to in their spiritual journey.

This last one is of the most interest to me, since I don't consider myself Christian (or at least not exclusively so.) And although at times I had to work hard to look past the second-class treatment of these women, and the borderline self-deprecation that came through in places, in the end I found their dedication, strength, and wisdom powerful and inspiring on a personal level.
"The Desert Mothers: Spiritual Practices from the Women of the Wilderness"  Jun 14, 2007
The Desert Mothers: Spiritual Practices from the Women of the Wilderness

There is no denying the impact the Desert Christians had and continue to have on Christian spirituality. Having myself been influenced by the Desert Christians for over twenty years, I welcome Mary C. Earle's book.

Looking at the title I am reminded of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. The last clause in that recount is "not counting the women and children." Estimates vary. Counting the women and children is thought to increase the number of those fed from 15,000 to 35,000. Even with the more modest 15,000, when we count the women and children it is a far bigger miracle than feeding merely 5,000 men.

Scholars tell us that the number of women in the desert far outnumbered the men. So perhaps it is safe to say that the impact of desert spirituality upon Christianity may be dependent more upon the contribution of women than men, even though only the sayings of four Ammas have been preserved. One can only hope that future archaeological digs will uncover a collection of sayings of the Desert Mothers.

Be that as it may, Rev. Earle has filled a need left lacking in Christianity for far too long. Not only does she answer her own question "where are all the women?", she tells us how to use what we read in the Desert Christians and apply it to our own lives. I say she has supplied a need because most of what is written about the Desert Christians has been scholarly: where did they come from; why did people flock out into the desert; development of monasticism and such topics. In this book, Rev. Earle uses the sayings very much as the first audience must have done: to change one's life in tangible ways.

It could be argued that main reason desert spirituality has been so important is precisely because it address the nitty gritty of how to meet Christ, turn one's back on one's old life to follow Him. The question is often "But how do we follow Jesus? What does that look like? I am sickened by the extravagance all around me, but how can i live differently?"

Could there be a more stark contrast between life in twenty-first century United States and the barren wastes of the deserts of Egypt? In an age when Voluntary Simplicity is a way of life for so many, when people take Internet quizzes to measure how big is their individual impact upon the planet, maybe the Desert Christians have something to say to us. I believe they do.

So does Rev. Mary Earle. In this deceptively short book (less than 100 pages), she uses a saying as a jumping off point, becomes an Amma herself to start us thinking of our homes as our hermitage or what it effect it might have on us were we to be regular in prayer and reading Scriptures. Above I called it a "deceptively short book." This is because its impact is in excess of the number of pages. One every one, Rev. Earle invites us deeper into the life of faith and the most simple lifestyle possible.
like visiting with a dear friend over coffee or tea  Apr 3, 2007
Mary Earle, Episcopal priest and teacher, takes tiny gems from the known writings of desert mothers (ammas) to help regular folk deal with and even embrace the desert moments in their lives. Mary is a mother and pastor and a teacher. Her writings here take snippets of writings from Christian women at the birth of Christianity and sift them through her understanding of being in the world. She uses these sayings of the mothers to remind us that deserts, while challenging, are not bad places or places devoid of richness or places of escape. Earle, through her engagement with the writings of these holy women, encourages women (and men) to acknowledge their desert places, to embrace the challenges of such places, and to create cells (holy corners) to make sense of our lives.

It is a short book full of thoughtful passages and practical applications. It would make a lovely gift for anyone, but especially those who feel sort of "stuck" in a desert-like moment.
Mary Earle has done it again.  Feb 25, 2007
What she did for Celtic Christian spirituality and Benedictine practice in her previous books--combine rich historical and theological background with practical ways to engage a particular way of praying--Mary Earle does here for the tradition of the "desert mothers." She introduces us to some remarkable 4th century women (less well known but no less wise than their male counterparts), and invites us to join them on their journey into God. These desert women take us back to basics: reminding us to stay open to ongoing transformation, to trust in God's abiding Presence, to cherish silence in our noisy world. Weaving together scholarship, story-telling, and shrewd insight from her own experience, Mary Earle leads us to see our daily lives as "the very habitat of God," and shows us "ways of becoming new." Her style is quiet, conversational, disarming--but be warned: the company of these luminous women could change your life. Highly recommended.

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