John Cassian on Prayer

Prayer changes at every moment in proportion to the degree of purity in the soul and in accordance with the extent to which the soul is moved either by outside influence or of itself. Certainly the same kind of prayers cannot be uttered continuously by any one person. A lively person prays one way. A person brought down by the weight of gloom or despair prays another. One prays another way when the life of the spirit is flourishing, and another way when pushed down by the mass of temptation. One prays differently, depending on whether one is seeking the gift of some grace or virtue or the removal of some sinful vice. The prayer is different once again when one is sorrowing at the thought of hell and the fear of future judgement, or when one is fired by hope and longing for future blessedness, when one is in need or peril, in peace or tranquility, when one is flooded with the light of heavenly mysteries or when one is hemmed in by aridity in virtue and staleness in one’s thinking…

…Our mind arrives at that incorruption of power … that is not concerned with considering any image, and indeed is not distinguished by any accompaniment of voice or words, but with the intention of the mind on fire. [This prayer] is produced through an inexpressible ecstasy of heart, by an unexplainable keenness of spirit, and so the mind altered beyond sense or visible matter pours forth to God with unutterable groans and sighs.”
- Conferences 10.11.6:

The missing Deadly Sin

The Seven Deadly Sins are derived from the Eight Thoughts of John Cassian, the monk who, in the Fourth Century, systematically recorded the teachings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. He described how monks and nuns were always afflicted by Eight Thoughts or Demons. The transformation from Eight Thoughts to Seven Sins begins with Pope Gregory the Great in the Sixth Century. Gregory began this process by removing one vice from the list: acedia, a Greek word which can be translated as spiritual apathy. The disappearance of acedia from ordinary people’s vocabulary deprived Western culture of the ability to name an important feature of the spiritual life, namely, loss of enthusiasm for the spiritual life itself. While the word has disappeared, the reality of spiritual carelessness is strongly present in our culture.

From: Spiritual Apathy: The Forgotten Deadly Sinhere

I wonder what would have happened if acedia had been made a ‘sin’ in it’s own right by the Catholic Church, and if spiritual awareness of God would be different now to what it actually is today.

John Cassian on Friendship

From John Cassian -

There are many kinds of friendship and companionship which unite men in very different ways in the bonds of love:

For some a previous recommendation makes to enter upon an intercourse first of acquaintance and afterwards even of friendship. In the case of others some bargain or an agreement to give and take something has joined them in the bonds of love. Others a similarity and union of business or science or art or study has united in the chain of friendship, by which even fierce souls become kindly disposed to each other, so that those, who in forests and mountains delight in robbery and revel in human bloodshed, embrace and cherish the partners of their crimes.

Continue reading

John Cassian, Grace, Free Will and Semipelagianism

As I was reading concerning Augustine and his diabolical scheme to end the Gospel’s message, erasing the Great Commission and the Commission given in Acts 1, I came across the mention of a monk still celebrated by the East, John Cassian. Cassian, as I came to find out, was attached and later defended John Chrysostom before the Roman bishop when the Patriarch had caused friction within the imperial household.

Continue reading