Ancient Wisdom for a Modern World

Exploring the spirituality of the Desert Fathers & Mothers alongside Scripture

10am on Wednesday 31st May - after lunch on Friday 2nd June 2023

In this two-night/day retreat we will journey together exploring the spirituality of the Desert Fathers & Mothers, through prayer, meditation, reflection and discussion - within the context of Biblical teaching. We will examine the lives of several individual Desert Fathers and Mothers as they sought to live out the Gospel. Who were the Desert Fathers and Mothers? Why did they flee to the desert? What aspects of their unique spirituality are relevant for us today? How important were these early experiments in monasticism? Why did St Benedict in his Rule of Life recommend a daily reading of the Desert Fathers and Mothers before Compline? And what caused spiritual giant Thomas Merton to state that the text Athanasius’s Life of St Antony - the story of the first Desert Father - is the most important monastic book - even more important than the Rule of St Benedict? Come along and let’s find out!

Led by Dr Peter Ruxton, please see his biography below the Programme

£150, includes accommodation and meals



Wednesday 31st May

11:45 College Community Eucharist in church

13:00 Lunch in Dining Hall

14:00 Introduction to the Desert Fathers & Mothers

15:30 Tea

16:00 St Antony – withdrawal & asceticism

           Evagrius & Cassian – controlling thoughts

18:00 Supper

19:00 A Chance to Reflect & Question 

21:30 Compline in Chapel (optional)

Thursday 1st June

07:30 BCP Eucharist (optional)

08:15 Breakfast

09:00 Abba Arsenius – silence & solitude

          Abba Macarius – humility

10:30  Coffee

11:00  Group Reflection

12:30 Lunch

14:00 Abba Moses – loving neighbour & not judging others

          St Pachomius – obedience

15:30 Tea

16:00 Time for Individual Reflection

16.30  Evening Prayer in Church (optional)

18:00 Supper

19.00 A Chance to Reflect & Question

21:30 Compline in Chapel 

Friday 2nd June

07:30 Eucharist (optional)

08:15 Breakfast & Check out of rooms

09:00 Morning Prayer with college community in Chapel

10:00 Amma Syncletica – purity of heart & unceasing prayer

10:45 Coffee & Final Reflection

11:45 Closing worship together in Chapel

12:30 Lunch and depart


Peter Ruxton Biography

Peter was born in Nyasaland, now Malawi - went to school in Arusha, Tanzania - before boarding at Kingswood School in Bath. He studied for six years at Leeds University gaining a BSc and PhD in geological sciences before moving to Australia to work in mineral exploration. Returning to the UK in 1997, Peter studied for an MBA through the Universities of Bangor and Manchester, before joining the British Government’s aid arm - CDC or the Commonwealth Development Corporation, part of then DfiD or the Department for International Development - financing mining projects in the poorer parts of Africa. Having been made redundant in 2008, Peter took his investment track record and formed a new private equity fund called Tembo Capital.

It was in the deserts of Australia and Africa that Peter first discovered and started studying the spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. He has recently completed an MA in Christian Spirituality at Sarum College in Salisbury, focusing principally on the Desert Fathers and Mothers, and on Celtic Spirituality. Peter is a bird watcher, loves collecting fossils (of course!), makes sour dough bread, brews beer, and now lives with his stained-glass designer wife Hilary and family, near Stroud in Gloucestershire.

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