The Cistercian Studies Series – Monastic Ressourcement

Because I was posting so late last night, I forgot to include the Cistercian Studies series from Cistercian Press in my list of Catholic translations of the Fathers. CS is a great series, including translations from throughout the different genres of ancient monastic literature amidst a wide array of other monastic sources.

Each translation usually comes with a very good introduction to the material and notes at the back. This way, you are easily pointed towards material for further study and are helped along as you enter the often foreign world of ancient monastic and ascetic literature.

They include hagiography, such as Cyril of Scythopolis Lives of the Monks of Palestine or Besa’s Life of Shenoute. An interesting offering in the hagiographical texts they include in this series is The Lives of Simeon Stylites that includes Theodoret’s version, Simeon’s disciple Antony’s version, and the Syriac version.

They include monastic rules, such as The Rule of the Master, one of the source’s for St. Benedict’s Rule. There are also two volumes comparing Benedict’s Rule to the Rule of the Master in Community and Abbot in the Rule of Saint Benedict as well as other volumes discussing the Rule. The three-volume set Pachomian Koinonia includes the Rules of Pachomius. They have also translated the Rule of St. Augustine.

They include Syriac writers, as in The Syriac Fathers and Prayer and the Spiritual Life as well as The Book of Steps. The riches of ancient Syriac Christianity are often lost to modern readers, even ones who often read the Fathers. To see them included in a translation series is good.

They include monastic discourses, such as those of Dorotheos of Gaza or Abba Isaiah of Scetis. Here, the reader will find much wisdom on how to lead the virtuous life, even if not in a monastery.

They include the Sayings of the Desert Fathers as well as certain writings of Evagrius Ponticus, whose corpus consists of “chapters”, themselves short, pithy sayings like the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Given that Evagrius is contemporary with the men of the Sayings and is highly influential in the spirituality of both East and West, it is good to have him available in English.

If we are including Bede as a Church Father, CS includes some of his homilies and commentaries, giving an insight into a different side of the monastic world beyond mysticism and asceticism — the world of Scripture all monks dwell in.

The little-known Lives of the Jura Fathers, about fifth-century Gallic monks, is also included in this series.

These are just a few of the offerings available through the Cistercian Studies series, itself a blessing to the world of Ressourcement thinking.


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