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St. Anthony and Desert Wisdom: Cultivating Love through Radical Simplicity and Solitude

with Christine Valters Paintner

Saturday, January 14, 2023

9am-12 pm Pacific

12-3 pm Eastern

5-8 pm Ireland/UK time

Program Description

This retreat is part of our 10 month series The Mystical Heart: Love as a Creative Force. 

In the second to fourth centuries, men and women fled the cities in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine to find solace and refuge in the desert. They sought a life of radical simplicity and solitude to help nourish an intimate and ongoing connection to the Holy One. Foremost among these desert elders was St. Anthony of the Desert, born around 250 A.D.

A new form of radical witness emerged which included fasting, ongoing prayer, and soul friendship in service of their devotion to Christ. St. Anthony was wealthy as a young man, but upon hearing the words of Jesus to the rich young man to “go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven,” he gave away what he owned to the poor and went to the desert to live as an ascetic. Eventually many sought him out for his guidance in the interior life.

We have a collection of Sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers which contains the wisdom these monks left behind. In this retreat we will explore the path of the desert as modelled by St. Anthony and other monks, where they stripped away the distractions until they could focus fully on the sacred presence. This is a pathway to the fullness of love.

Join us three days before the feast of St. Anthony (January 17th). We will encounter these desert wisdom guides through teaching, their stories, breath prayer and other meditation practice, creative exploration through writing, gentle movement and song, and sharing in large and small groups.

Simon de Voil will provide music for our retreat.

The retreat will be recorded for those who register and made available within 48-72 hours of the program. A notification will be sent when it is ready for viewing.

Your Guides for the Journey


Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE is the online Abbess for Abbey of the Arts, a virtual monastery and global community integrating contemplative practice and creative expression. Her programs draw on the wisdom of the desert, Celtic, and Benedictine spiritual traditions as well as the joy of the expressive arts, embodied practice, and Earth-cherishing wisdom. Christine is the author of numerous books on spirituality and creativity, including three collections of poetry. She lives on the west coast of Ireland with her husband John and dog Sourney. Find out more about her here.

Simon de Voil playing guitar

Simon de Voil

Rev. Simon Ruth de Voil is an interfaith-interspiritual minister, sacred musician, spiritual counsellor, and chaplain. His sacred work—both musical and interpersonal—explores themes of the inner landscape of the soul, the enchantment of the natural world, and the healing power of spiritual practice. As a chaplain and counsellor, Simon helps individuals and groups connect sacred presence with everyday life. Simon is also a transgender activist and a luthier in training. Visit Simon’s website.


Your registration constitutes an agreement with our online program Terms and Conditions below.

We offer a sliding scale of 3 fees for payment. The reduced fee for those who have lost their income and the sponsorship fee helps support our ability to offer scholarships. In an effort to keep this program accessible, please carefully consider both your own resources as well as honoring the expense, time, and energy required to run these programs and keep our work sustainable. Thank you!
Please be careful to enter your correct email address when you register. 
All prices displayed in USD.


REduced Fee


Regular fee


Sponsorship fee

If you need a different payment plan or a greater scholarship to make this program accessible, please get in touch with us.

Terms and Conditions

Please consider your purchase carefully and review the many free materials we have on our website to make sure the program will be a good fit or get in touch with any questions.

We ask that you honor our work by not sharing the program materials with others who are not enrolled.

Please contact us for permission to quote in settings beyond the program

These videos are made available to registered participants and may also be included in future versions of the program including self-study. If you choose to speak during a recorded gathering, you are giving us your consent to record that contribution. If you prefer not to be seen or heard, you can of course switch off or mute your camera or microphone at any time. Chat sessions are recorded and posted as well. Participation in the chat function is also giving consent to their recording. Breakout groups are never recorded.

If you choose a payment plan and stop payment before fulfilling the commitment without contacting us to make other arrangements, your access to the program will be removed.