St. John Cassian (357? – 435)
On Knowing God from Creation
God is not only to be known in His blessed and incomprehensible being, for this is something which is reserved for His saints in the age to come. He is also to be known from the grandeur and beauty of His creatures, from His providence which governs the world day by day, from His righteousness and from the wonders which He shows to His saints in each generation…. When we consider that He numbers the raindrops, the sand of the sea and the stars of heaven, we are amazed at the grandeur of His nature and His wisdom.
~ On the Holy Fathers of Sketis, The Philokalia, Vol. 1, trans. Palmer and Sherrard, pg. 97.
A Rule for Self Control
A clear rule for self-control handed down by the Fathers is this: stop eating while you are still hungry and do not continue until you are satisfied. When the Apostle said ‘Make no provision to fulfill the desires of the flesh’ (Romans 13:14), he was not forbidding us to provide for the needs of life; he was warning us against self-indulgence… self-esteem and pride….
~ “On the eight vices,” The Philokalia, Vol. I, London, 1979, pg. 74.
This extraordinarily gifted spiritual guide grew up in Roman Gaul (France) where he studied philosophy and astronomy before giving himself entirely over to the absorption of Holy Scripture and to a striving to fulfill Christ’s call to “be perfect.” John Cassian journeyed first to Bethlehem and then to Egypt where he lived with the monks of Scetis and embraced the practice of the virtues. After seven years in the desert in departed for Constantinople where he became a pupil of St. John Chrysostom; he was ordained by him into the diaconate. He then returned to the West and settled near Marseilles where he founded two monasteries. He exemplifies the ascetic striving for the self-denial of the spiritual athletes of Christ, and the deep care for creation alive in the monks of the Egyptian desert. He is numbered among the founders of monasticism in the West.