Desert Fathers

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Martin Hall | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Jan 2 2020 10:19 AM

I am currently reading: "The Fathers of the Desert, Vols. 1 & 2". I was browsing through this book & was reading on St. John Climacus and found this sentence: "He had begun so early to discipline his higher powers, and to subdue his will, that the lower powers were already mastered, and his struggle with them was less severe than that of the other ascetics."

Hahn-Hahn, I., & Dalgairns, J. B. (1907). The Fathers of the Desert & 2. (E. F. Bowden, Trans.) (Vol. 1, p. 386). London: Burns and Oates.

Does anybody know what the "higher powers" & "lower powers" are that are being referenced? I have never run across these phrases before in reference to the Church Fathers. Thank you in advance for your replies.

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Colin | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 2 2020 11:07 AM

Hi Martin, 

I have no expertise in this area but I noticed that earlier in the book there is a paragraph about powers which may shed light on your sentence. It seems that lower spiritual powers involve the mind - memory, understanding and imagination, while the higher ones involve the will and perhaps the emotions - love.  

'Thus his spiritual combat continued without intermission, and ever gave him occasion for new victories and higher peace in God, so that he led not only the ordinary double life of the spiritual and material man, but a double life in his spirit, in which the highest powers of his soul, his pure will, and his pure love, rested recollectedly upon God as it were upon an inaccessible rock, and were not disturbed by the battle in the valley which the lower spiritual powers, the memory, understanding, and imagination, had to engage in.'

Ida Hahn-Hahn and John Bernard Dalgairns, The Fathers of the Desert & 2, trans. Emily F. Bowden, vol. 1 (London: Burns and Oates, 1907), 102–103.


Posts 267
Martin Hall | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jan 2 2020 11:54 AM

Got it, thank you. I clearly missed that.

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