Category Archives: St. John Cassian

St. John Cassian: When we have attained some degree of holiness we should always repeat . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“When we have attained some degree of holiness we should always repeat to ourselves the words of the Apostle: “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me’ (1 Cor. 15:10), as well as what was said by the Lord: ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). We should also bear in mind what the prophet said: ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it’ (Ps. 127:1), and finally: ‘It does not depend on-man’s will or effort, but on God’s mercy’ (Rom. 9:16). Even if someone is sedulous, serious and resolute, he cannot, so long as he is bound to flesh and blood, approach perfection except through the mercy and grace of Christ. James himself says that ‘every good gift is from above’ Jas. 1:17), while the Apostle Paul asks: ‘What do you have which you did not receive? Now if you received it, why do you boast, as if you had not received it?’ (1 Cor. 4:7). What right, then, has man to be proud as though he could achieve perfection through his own efforts?”

+ St. John Cassian,  The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1), “On the Eight Vices: On Pride”

St. John Cassian: . . . For there is nothing in your preaching to offend them.

Icon of St. John Cassian“Tell me then, you heretic, you enemy of all men, but of yourself above all— to whom the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is an offense as with the Jews, and foolishness as with the Gentiles, you who reject the mysteries of true salvation, with the stumbling of the former, and are foolish with the stubbornness of the others, why was the preaching of the Apostle Paul foolishness to the pagans, and a stumbling-block to the Jews? Surely it would never have offended men, if he had taught that Christ was, as you maintain He is, a mere man? For who would think that His birth, passion, cross, and death were incredible or a difficulty? Or what would there have been novel or strange about the preaching of Paul, if he had said that a merely human Christ suffered that which human nature daily endures among men everywhere? But it was surely this that the foolishness of the Gentiles could not receive, and the unbelief of the Jews rejected; namely, that the Apostle declared that Christ whom they, like you, fancied to be a mere man, was God. This it certainly was which the thoughts of these wicked men rejected, which the ears of the faithless could not endure; namely, that the birth of God should be proclaimed in the man Jesus Christ, that the passion of God should be asserted, and the cross of God proclaimed. This it was which was a difficulty: this was what was incredible; for that was incredible to the hearing of men, which had never been heard of as happening to the Divine nature. And so you are quite secure, with such an announcement and teaching as yours, that your preaching will never be either foolishness to the Gentiles or a stumbling-block to the Jews. You will never be crucified with Peter by Jews and Gentiles, nor stoned with James, nor beheaded with Paul. For there is nothing in your preaching to offend them.”

+ St. John Cassian, “On the Incarnation: Contra Nestorius” – Book III Chapter 9

St. John Cassian: No matter what provokes it, anger . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“No matter what provokes it, anger blinds the soul’s eyes, preventing it from seeing the Sun of Righteousness.”

+ St. John Cassian,  The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1), “On the Eight Vices: On Anger”

St. John Cassian: We must take care not to refer all the merits of the saints to the Lord in such a way as to . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“We must take care not to refer all the merits of the saints to the Lord in such a way as to ascribe nothing but what is evil and perverse to human nature, in doing which we are confuted by the evidence of the most wise Solomon, or rather of the Lord himself, whose words these are; for when the building of the temple was finished and he was praying, he spoke as follows: ‘and David my father would have built a house to the name of the Lord God of Israel: and the Lord said to David my father: Whereas thou hast thought in thine heart to build a house to my name, thou hast done well in having this same thing in thy mind.’ This thought and purpose of King David, are we to call it good and from God or bad and from man? For if the thought was good and from God, why did He by whom it was inspired refuse that it should be carried into effect? But if it is bad and from man, why is it praised by the Lord?”

+ St. John Cassian, Third Conference of the Abbot Chaeremon

St. John Cassian: The thief who received the kingdom of heaven, though not as the reward of virtue, is a true witness to the fact that salvation . . .

Icon of St. John CassianThe thief who received the kingdom of heaven, though not as the reward of virtue, is a true witness to the fact that salvation is ours through the grace and mercy of God.

All of our holy fathers knew this and all with one accord teach that perfection in holiness can be achieved only through humility.

Humility, in its turn, can be achieved only through faith, fear of God, gentleness and the shedding of all possessions.

It is by means of these that we attain perfect love, through the grace and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory through all the ages. Amen.

+ St. John Cassian,  The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1), “On the Eight Vices: On Pride”

St. John Cassian: A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are satisfied. . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while still hungry and do not continue until you are satisfied.

When the Apostle said, ‘Make no provision to fulfill the desires of the flesh’ (Rom. 13:14), he was not forbidding us to provide for the needs of life; he was warning us against self-indulgence. Moreover, by itself abstinence from food does not contribute to perfect purity of soul unless the other virtues are active as well. Humility, for example, practiced through obedience in our work and through bodily hardship, is a great help.

If we avoid avarice not only by having no money, but also by not wanting to have any, this leads us towards purity of soul. Freedom from anger, from dejection, self-esteem and pride also contributes to purity of soul in general, while self-control and fasting are especially important for bringing about that specific purity of soul which comes through restraint and moderation.

No one whose stomach is full can fight mentally against the demon of unchastity. Our initial struggle therefore must be to gain control of our stomach and to bring our body into subjection not only through fasting but also through vigils, labors and spiritual, reading, and through concentrating our heart on fear of Gehenna and on longing for the kingdom of heaven. ”

+ St. John Cassian
On the Eight Vices : On the Demon of Unchastity and the Desire of the Flesh

St. John Cassian: The apostle notes four types of prayer . . .

Icon of St. John Cassian“The apostle notes four types of prayer. ‘My advice is that first of all supplication should be offered up for everyone, prayers, pleas, and thanksgiving’ (I Tim. 2:1)… A supplication is a plea or petition made on account of present and past sin by someone who is moved by contrition to seek pardon. In prayers we offer or promise something to God. The Greek term means ‘vow’… Third comes pleas. We usually make them for others when we ourselves are deeply moved in spirit. We offer them for those dear to us or when we beg for peace in the world… Fourth are thanksgivings. Unspeakably moved by the memory of God’s past kindnesses, by the vision of what He now grants or by all that He holds out as a future reward to those who love Him, the mind gives thanks. In this perspective richer prayers are often uttered. Looking with purest gaze at the rewards promised to the saints, our spirit is moved by measureless joy to pour out wordless thanksgiving to God.”

— St. John Cassian (The Conferences, Conf. Nine sects. 9, 11, 12, 13, 14)