The name of Macarius (= “Blessed”) was a common one among the Christians of the fourth and following centuries, especially in Egypt. Two men of the name stand out as twin giants of the ascetic life of that age and country. They are distinguished from each other as Macarius the Egyptian and Macarius the Alexandrian. An “Egyptian” means one who belonged to the ancient race of Egypt1—a “Copt”; an Alexandrian means one who belonged to the Greek colony planted in that city. The two were friends and nearly contemporaries, though the Alexandrian was somewhat the younger. The Egyptian Macarius was born about the year 300.
The Makarian Homilies were attributed in the past to St Makarios the Great of Egypt (c. 300-c. 390). A Coptic monk, priest and spiritual father in the desert of Sketis, he figures prominently in the Lausiac History of Palladios and in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, and is commemorated in the Church's calendar on 19 January. But this ascription is open to doubt for many reasons: in particular, the early sources say nothing whatever about any writings by Makarios of Egypt, while the background presupposed by the Homilies is not Egyptian but Syrian. All that can be said with any confidence is that the Homilies are the work of an unknown author, writing probably in Syria or Mesopotamia during the late fourth or the early fifth century. There are similarities in language and symbolism, and sometimes also in thought, between the Homilies and Messalianism, an ascetic movement that originated in Syria in the late fourth century and spread rapidly to other parts of the Christian East.
John of Avila (1499-1569) was a major figure in the ecclesial reform and spiritual renewal that finally came to pass in 16th-century Spain. In spite of discrimination because of his Jewish background, John had an excellent education at the Universities of Salamanca and Alcala, centers of Christian humanistic studies in Spain. As a diocesan priest in Andalusia, he labored as a preacher, confessor, spiritual director, catechist, evangelist, educator, and theologian. He knew and helped many saints including Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, and John of God. Master Avila, as he was called, centered his efforts on the establishment of colleges and universities for the education of laity and priests and on reform of the priesthood. He also directed many religious and lay people. His spiritual masterpiece, the Audi, filia, is a guide to the spiritual life in which hearing the word of God in the Scriptures and contemplating the face of Christ, especially in his passion, leads to personal transformation in the communion of the Father and the Son. In many ways the book reflects the time in which it was written, but it also transcends it to provide direction for a faithful and mature Christian life in any age.
Here in one volume are many of the writings that influenced one of the most influential pastors and evangelical thinkers of the 20th century. Today's readers know Tozer's name and have read his classic Pursuit of God, but now they can read the same authors he read and learned from. This unique collection of readings has been thoroughly researched and culled from the people Tozer read and quoted. The selections are arranged thematically--including worship, the attributes of God, oneness with God, and more--to make the book easy to browse or use as devotional reading. This book belongs in every pastor's and thinking Christian's library.
Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621), a Jesuit as well as a leading theologian of the Counter-Reformation, had an enormous effect on the religious life of his age. Here are two of his most influential ascetical works: The Mind's Ascent to God, written in the tradition of Bonaventure and John Climacus, and The Art of Dying Well.