With the practical aim of guiding brothers at his monastery in the wilderness of northern California, Fr. Seraphim Rose (1934-1982) set out to select and translate these counsels of Saints Barsanuphius the Great and John the Prophet, Desert Fathers of sixth-century Palestine. Fr. Seraphim found that many of the questions posed to Saints Barsanuphius and John in Guidance Toward Spiritual Life are not unlike those asked by Christian strugglers of today; and the answers of the Elders cut right through the common fantasies and misconceptions. They expose the nature of the vices-feigned humility, coldhearted calculation, judgement, idleness, lack of inward vigilance, carnal thoughts, vainglory- and show the way to overcome them and acquire virtue. From the Elders’ words one can learn of the remarkable subtlety of demonic deception, and become aware of the painstaking carefulness with which a Christian must examine all his thoughts, words, and deeds to see if they are of God. The love of elder for disciple comes through in every passage. With Divine vision the Elders see the immortal souls of their disciples; and the salvation of these souls is their one and only concern in offering guidance.
Guidance Toward Spiritual Life includes the Life of Saints Barsanuphius and John by St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, as well as selected passages from the Spiritual Homilies of St. Macarius the Great of Egypt.