Cover image for Heaven begins within you : wisdom from the Desert Fathers
Heaven begins within you : wisdom from the Desert Fathers
Grün, Anselm.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Himmel beginnt in dir. English
Publication Information:
New York : Crossroad Pub., 1999.
Physical Description:
126 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BR195.C5 G7613 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The Christian hermits, ascetics, and monks of early history had deep insight into the nature and aspirations of humankind. Drawing on their experiences in the cloisters of the desert they became sought after mentors, teachers, and spiritual guides. This book is filled with poignant wisdom stories relating their message to modern daily life.

Author Notes

Anselm Gruen, O.S.B. is a Benedictine monk of the Abbey of Muensterschwarzach in Germany.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Gruen, a Benedictine monk, and Taylor, a Catholic layperson, both convey insights gleaned from the life of solitary religious devotion. But whereas Gruen expands upon the lore of the early Christian ascetics known as the Desert Fathers (and the Desert Mothers), Taylor speaks out of her own first five years of living in devotional solitude. Psychologist as well as monk, Gruen conducts workshops for professionals and business executives, whom one cynically imagines would have no use for the teachings of a bunch of religious "nuts." Yet the lessons in self-scrutinizing, cultivating inner peacefulness, refraining from judgment, analyzing thoughts and feelings, handling passionate emotions, and keeping one's death constantly in mind that Gruen extracts from the Desert Fathers seem the kind of wisdom that would improve anyone, especially because they are all meant to shape a gentle and compassionate character. Taylor shares what she has learned from silent solitude within her own small home in chapters corresponding to the six resolutions of the "Covenant of Hope" she wrote for herself when she first chose to "seek union with God." She often brings up the same points of practice (self-knowing and analysis, peaceableness, emotional management, etc.) that Gruen extracts from the Desert Fathers. But bringing them up in the contexts of the ideals she personally sought to live out (silence, solitude, simplicity, solidarity with the poor, obedience, and prayer) makes her report appealing on a gut level that Gruen never reaches, despite valuing humility as highly as Taylor does. Either book is enough to make one pause and contemplate. --Ray Olson

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 7
1. Spirituality from Belowp. 17
2. Staying by Oneselfp. 28
3. The Desert and Temptationp. 36
4. Asceticismp. 45
5. Keeping Silence, Not Passing Judgmentp. 52
6. Analyzing Our Thoughts and Feelingsp. 60
7. Dealing with Our Passionsp. 76
8. Shaping Life Spirituallyp. 95
9. Keeping Death before Our Eyes Every Dayp. 103
10. Contemplation as a Path of Healingp. 111
11. Gentleness as a Sign of the Spiritual Personp. 116
Conclusionp. 119
Bibliographyp. 125