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Evagrius Ponticus

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Evagrius was born in Pontus around the year 345 and studied under the Cappadocian Fathers. St. Basil tonsured Evagrius a reader, and St. Gregory Nazianzus elevated him to the diaconate. As a deacon, Evagrius Ponticus would attend the Second Ecumenical Council (First Constantinople) in 381, which formulated the last portion of the Nicene Creed (the article dealing with the Holy Spirit). After visiting Jerusalem, Evagrius became a monk in the Egyptian desert in 383. There his life would touch those of two other saints: St. Makarios of Alexandria, his mentor ; and St. John Cassian ("Cassian the Roman"), his disciple. (Many believe he also met St. Makarios the Egyptian.) He died in Kellia, Egypt, in 399.
Evagrius passed on his firsthand knowledge of the Desert Fathers to many visitors and disciples, becoming particularly well known for his teaching on prayer. He exhorted his followers to practice the virtues, engage in regular Psalmody, and refrain from making any physical/mental images during prayer. However, like so many others, he became influenced by the teachings of Origen, believing in the doctrines of the "restitution of all things" (including the reconciliation of Satan), and in the Platonic notion of the pre-existence of the soul. The Fifth Ecumenical Council (Second Constantinople) in 553 deemed both these doctrines (and Origen himself) heretical. Although never canonized a saint, Evagrius' teachings on asceticism, prayer, and the spiritual life had a profound impact upon both Christian East and West.

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