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Amma Matrona: Escaping Temptation?
We never graduate from temptation — it never vanishes; it must be vanquished
Amma Matronasaid, “We carry ourselves wherever we go and we cannot escape temptation by mere flight.”
Because their wisdom was long-sought and hard-won, the Desert Fathers and Mothers have become my companions along the Purgative way.
In the fourth century, they began populating the deserts of the Ancient Near East.
Part of their purgative struggle was detachment from urban life or what they called “the world.” They renounced the material and political seductions of city life for a desert existence free from these kind of temptations, all in hopes of creating a truly contemplative space to train with Christ.
And that largely happened.
But this didn’t stop temptation, it simply morphed, adapting for desert life.
Instead of opulence and power, new reoccurring thoughts began attacking their minds:
- Whose lifestyle was the most austere?
- Who epitomized self-reliance?
- Who demonstrated the purest humility?
And this is the hard-won wisdom of Amma Matrona: one cannot escape temptation by simply running away. You cannot flee it; you must fight it.
We may think that by running away and relocating to a new place, we can rid ourselves of temptation, but we can’t.
“We carry ourselves wherever we go.”
We never graduate from temptation — it never vanishes; it must be vanquished.
We must resist it.
Trying to avoid it or run from it, only delays the inevitable struggle. Life in the Purgative way is about embracing a radical stabilitas, a stability of life.
We must stay put.
We must remain vigilant where we are.
Once we embrace this — then the real struggle can begin.
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Amma Matrona, a remarkable figure in the Desert Christian Tradition, was a spiritual guide and wise woman known for her profound wisdom and compassionate heart. Born and raised in the arid landscapes of the desert, she developed a deep connection with nature from an early age. Living as a solitary hermit, Amma Matrona spent years in prayer, contemplation, and self-reflection. Her simple lifestyle and profound insights attracted disciples from far and wide who sought her counsel. People were drawn to her radiant presence and gentle demeanor, finding solace and guidance in her words. Amma Matrona's influence extended beyond her lifetime, as her disciples carried forward her teachings, spreading her message of love and compassion. Her legacy continues to inspire countless individuals to this day, reminding them of the transformative power of the desert's solitude and the boundless potential within each human soul.
Give Me a Word: The Alphabetical Sayings of the Desert Fathers. United States: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2014.