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...clearly a must for all libraries...and for all readers interested in spirituality." Religious Studies Review John Cassian: Conferences translation and preface by Colm Luibheid introduction by Owen Chadwick "I f you wish to achieve true knowledge of scripture you must hurry to achieve unshakable humility of heart. This is what will lead you not to the knowledge that puff ...clearly a must for all libraries...and for all readers interested in spirituality." Religious Studies Review John Cassian: Conferences translation and preface by Colm Luibheid introduction by Owen Chadwick "I f you wish to achieve true knowledge of scripture you must hurry to achieve unshakable humility of heart. This is what will lead you not to the knowledge that puffs a man up but to the lore which illumines through the achievement of love." John Cassian (c. 365-c. 435) At the turn of the sixth century the Mediterranean world was witnessing the decline of Roman rule that had formed the bedrock of its civil order. During the chaos of those years, there arose in the deserts of Egypt and Syria monastic movements that offered men and women a radical God-centered alternative to the present society. Among the most eloquent interpreters of this new movement to western Europe was John Cassian (c. 365-c.435). Drawing on his own early experience as a monk in Bethlehem and Egypt, he journeyed to the West to found monasteries in Marseilles and the region of Provence. Included in this volume is Cassian's masterpiece, the Conferences, which is a study of the Egyptian ideal of the monk. The new translation by Colm Luibheid is coupled with an insightful introduction by the distinguished Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History, Cambridge University, Owen Chadwick, who writes of Cassian's achievement: "Like the Rule of St. Benedict, his work was a protection against excess and a constant recall to that primitive simplicity where eastern spirituality met western.


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...clearly a must for all libraries...and for all readers interested in spirituality." Religious Studies Review John Cassian: Conferences translation and preface by Colm Luibheid introduction by Owen Chadwick "I f you wish to achieve true knowledge of scripture you must hurry to achieve unshakable humility of heart. This is what will lead you not to the knowledge that puff ...clearly a must for all libraries...and for all readers interested in spirituality." Religious Studies Review John Cassian: Conferences translation and preface by Colm Luibheid introduction by Owen Chadwick "I f you wish to achieve true knowledge of scripture you must hurry to achieve unshakable humility of heart. This is what will lead you not to the knowledge that puffs a man up but to the lore which illumines through the achievement of love." John Cassian (c. 365-c. 435) At the turn of the sixth century the Mediterranean world was witnessing the decline of Roman rule that had formed the bedrock of its civil order. During the chaos of those years, there arose in the deserts of Egypt and Syria monastic movements that offered men and women a radical God-centered alternative to the present society. Among the most eloquent interpreters of this new movement to western Europe was John Cassian (c. 365-c.435). Drawing on his own early experience as a monk in Bethlehem and Egypt, he journeyed to the West to found monasteries in Marseilles and the region of Provence. Included in this volume is Cassian's masterpiece, the Conferences, which is a study of the Egyptian ideal of the monk. The new translation by Colm Luibheid is coupled with an insightful introduction by the distinguished Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History, Cambridge University, Owen Chadwick, who writes of Cassian's achievement: "Like the Rule of St. Benedict, his work was a protection against excess and a constant recall to that primitive simplicity where eastern spirituality met western.

30 review for John Cassian: Conferences (Classics of Western Spirituality)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Josh Wilhelm

    This was the first book (of ten) which I am reading for a course on the “Classics of Christian Spirituality” at Regent College this term. John Cassian’s Conferences are a series of visits by Cassian and his partner Germanus to monks in the African desert in the form of a dialogue and entered on such “spiritual discussions” as “The Goal of the Monk,” “Prayer,” and “On Perfection.” Cassian and Germanus are somewhat of spiritual tourists examining the life of the Egyptian monk. In this edition, nin This was the first book (of ten) which I am reading for a course on the “Classics of Christian Spirituality” at Regent College this term. John Cassian’s Conferences are a series of visits by Cassian and his partner Germanus to monks in the African desert in the form of a dialogue and entered on such “spiritual discussions” as “The Goal of the Monk,” “Prayer,” and “On Perfection.” Cassian and Germanus are somewhat of spiritual tourists examining the life of the Egyptian monk. In this edition, nine of John Cassian’s famous “Conferences” have been selected and translated by Colm Luibheid and introduced by Owen Chadwick. Cassian stood at a unique position between East and West. Fluent in both Latin and Greek, Cassian travelled all around the Mediterranean, eventually bringing Egyptian monastic wisdom back to the West. Cassian’s place in the history of Christian spirituality was ensured when St. Benedict advocated for the reading of the Conferences in his famous Rule. Admittedly, I find myself quite skeptical of the whole eremitic monastic movement - likely due to the strangeness of the thing - and have a hard time believing that such genuine spiritual hunger and wisdom could come from isolated desert dwellers. Cassian's Conferences present a formidable challenge to my thinking. 3.5/5

  2. 4 out of 5

    William Bies

    The decline and fall of the Roman empire, wandering Germanic tribes crossing the frontier and invading provinces that had witnessed settled government for centuries and wreaking havoc everywhere, a deluge of religious fanaticism, street fighting between rival political factions often culminating in assassination and the burning of libraries—sounds familiar? To thoughtful observers of the latter fourth and early fifth centuries, the world itself [orbis terrarum] seemed to be threatened with irrev The decline and fall of the Roman empire, wandering Germanic tribes crossing the frontier and invading provinces that had witnessed settled government for centuries and wreaking havoc everywhere, a deluge of religious fanaticism, street fighting between rival political factions often culminating in assassination and the burning of libraries—sounds familiar? To thoughtful observers of the latter fourth and early fifth centuries, the world itself [orbis terrarum] seemed to be threatened with irreversible decadence, what it must be stressed comprises not merely a literary commonplace such as we find in Hesiod’s account of the five ages of man in the Works and Days, lines 110-201 (golden, silver, bronze, heroic, iron), but an exigency actuated by portentous current events, such as the sack of Rome in 410 by Alaric. Augustine composed as a riposte to fears such as these his celebrated De civitate Dei, which would prove to be determinative for educated views on the topic up to the thirteenth century, when it began to be displaced by the apocalyptic delirium of excitable heretics such as the disciples of Joachim of Flora, followed by Jan Hus and a long line of sectarians until our day (modern ideas of progress are in large measure but a secularization of this religious phenomenon). The modern historian of culture knows full well the surprising issue of all these calamities that descended upon the world of late antiquity, taken as if unawares: the emergence of the monastic movement, beginning in Egypt and Syria and then before long spreading over the rest of the lands where Christians were numerous. As recorded in the testimony of the desert fathers, the earliest stages of the monastic movement, associated with Anthony and his contemporaries in Egypt, remind one of the wild west, but with the difference that the monks were contestants in a reality show aiming to further God’s, not their own glory. Humility was harder to practice in those days, because generally speaking one meant it—as in the story of the monk who returned to his cell one evening after going on a walk, only to find a man engaged in stealing his scant possessions. Rather than provoke an altercation, the monk fell in and commenced to assist the thief in loading the donkey with his remaining gear. Talk about taking the Sermon on the Mount literally! (Cf. Matthew 5:38-42.) Later on, the monastic movement evolved into an institutionalized and culture-forming force. To save civilization itself was, of course, only a for-the-most-part unintended side-effect of these men and women’s primary concern to repent and to worship God. How did they accomplish it, nevertheless? First of all, by copying manuscripts ever subject to decay; which presupposes they were in demand! Second, by maintaining a knowledge of Latin and even of Greek; see Gregory of Tours’ history of the Franks to get an impression of the desperately low pass to which culture in the outside, secular world had sunk by the Merovingian period. Religious men were indispensable to such governmental administration as existed, even when they themselves were barely literate (hence, the derivation of our term ‘clerk’ from ‘cleric’). But the durable reason why all these efforts prevailed against the odds is brought out well by the English historian Christopher Dawson: After the fall of the [Carolingian] Empire it was the great monasteries, especially those of Southern Germany, St. Gall, Reichenau and Tegernsee, that were the only remaining islands of intellectual life amidst the returning flood of barbarism which once again threatened to submerge Western Christendom. For, though monasticism seems at first sight ill-adapted to withstand the material destructiveness of an age of lawlessness and war, it was an institution which possessed extraordinary recuperative power. Ninety-nine out of a hundred monasteries could be burnt and the monks killed or driven out, and yet the whole tradition could be reconstituted from the one survivor, and the desolate sites could be repeopled by fresh supplies of monks who would take up again the broken tradition, following the same rule, singing the same liturgy, reading the same books and thinking the same thoughts as their predecessors (Religion and the Rise of Western Culture, p. 66). Now, John Cassian provides the historical link between Egypt and Europe. Born in what is now Romania, he spent the first half of his life becoming tested in the ways of Egyptian monasticism before emigrating to Gaul, where he exercised lasting influence on the nascent monastic movement there and where he wrote the works for which he is remembered. Cassian is well versed in the pitfalls that threaten solitary monks. The translator Colm Luibheid tells us in the preface, The history of the desert, as Cassian tirelessly proclaims, was filled with examples of men who would listen to none but themselves and whose lives had moved inexorably into spiritual disaster. This high road to catastrophe was taken especially by those untutored and undirected men in whom a sense of proportion, the capacity for introspection, and a close understanding of the processes of self-delusion had faltered or vanished. As a terrible, paradigmatic example, Cassian relates the story of Hero, a man who lived a solitary and penitential life for over half a century....It is a story set down with horror by Cassian, and the purpose of the telling comes as part of the repeated insistence on the need of all but the very few to be very open to the guidance and the directives and the insights of others. For without such guidance the monk runs the continuous risk of losing whatever feeling he has for the way things are (pp. xiv-xv). Eventually, cenobitism consolidated itself as the norm in Egypt, although the ideal remained that those who are sufficiently practiced should aspire to graduate to the status of the hermit. How to adapt the experience of the desert fathers to the conditions of the monastic establishments in Gaul and Italy, later the rest of Europe as it converted piecemeal to Christianity over the succeeding seven or eight centuries leading up to the astonishing flowering of medieval civilization during the twelfth and thirteenth? (Dawson op. cit. is very good on detailing the organizational differences between near Eastern and western European monastic institutions; the latter became integrated into the surrounding community and the rural economy in a way the desert monks, who fled the world, never were). This was precisely Cassian’s mission to discover and promote. What then are Cassian’s actual teachings? This reviewer is in no position to comment on the selection of nine out of twenty-four conferences for inclusion in this edition; in any case, one gets a fair sampling of Cassian’s thought on the spiritual life. Catena of illustrative quotes: Everything we do, our every objective, must be undertaken for the sake of this purity of heart. This is why we take on loneliness, fasting, vigils, work, nakedness. For this we must practice the reading of the scripture, together with all the other virtuous activities, and we do so to trap and to hold our hearts free of the harm of every dangerous passion and in order to rise step by step to the high point of love….A worker takes the trouble to get hold of the instruments that he requires….In the same way, fastings, vigils, scriptural meditation, nakedness and total deprivation do not constitute perfection but are the means to perfection (pp. 41-42). So, then, we must seek in all humility to acquire the grace of discernment which can keep us safe from the two kinds of excess. For there is an old saying: ‘Excesses meet’. Too much fasting and too much eating come to the same end. Keeping too long a vigil brings the same disastrous cost as the sluggishness which plunges a monk into the longest sleep. Too much self-denial brings weakness and induces the same condition as carelessness. Often I have seen men who could not be snared by gluttony fall, nevertheless, through immoderate fasting and tumble in weakness into the very urge which they had overcome. Unmeasured vigils and foolish denial of rest overcame those whom sleep could not overcome. Therefore, ‘fortified to right and to left in the armor of justice’, as the apostle says (2 Corinthians 6:7), life must be lived with due measure and, with discernment for a guide, the road must be traveled between the two kinds of excess so that in the end we may not allow ourselves to be diverted from the pathway of restraint which has been laid down for us nor fall through dangerous carelessness into the urgings of gluttony and self-indulgence (p. 76). Consider in this connection Friedrich Nietzsche’s Zur Genealogie der Moral, ‘Das asketische Ideal, man errät es wohl, war niemals und nirgendwo eine Schule des guten Geschmacks, noch weniger der guten Manieren – es war im besten Fall eine Schule der hieratischen Manieren – : das macht, es hat selber etwas im Leibe, das allen guten Manieren todfeind ist – mangel an Maß, Widerwillen gegen Maß, es ist selbst ein ››non plus ultra‹‹’ [Walter Kaufmann’s rendering: ‘It is easy to see that the ascetic ideal has never and nowhere been a school of good taste, even less of good manners—at best it was a school of hieratic manners: that is because its very nature includes something that is the deadly enemy of all good manners—lack of moderation, dislike of moderation; it is itself a “non plus ultra”’]. Set aside the side point about manners (although one can allude that what Nietzsche has in mind as ‘good’ manners leave a decidedly bitter aftertaste); the real issue is about moderation, or lack thereof. Let the dear reader judge for himself, whether the passages just cited be indeed indicative of an antipathy towards measure and moderation in the ascetical life, or not! Hence, the centrality of moderation in one’s ascetical practices is a recurrent theme in Cassian and is counseled as well by Maximus Confessor in his marvelous little gem, the Gnostic Centuries on Love. That Nietzsche should somehow have missed the basic teaching of the two greatest exponents of the ascetical tradition in the East and West shows how little regard for scholarly standards he has. And if Nietzsche, surely a great man of the worldly type, could have so thoroughly fooled himself in this crucial matter, how much the more so his twentieth-century epigone, Walter Kaufmann! We will most easily come to a precise knowledge of true discernment if we follow the paths of our elders, if we do nothing novel, and if we do not presume to decide anything on the basis of our own private judgment. Instead let us in all things travel the road laid down for us by the tradition of our elders and by the goodness of their lives (p. 70). The whole purpose of the monk and indeed the perfection of his heart amount to this—total and uninterrupted dedication to prayer. He strives for unstirring calm of mind and for never-ending purity, and he does so to the extent that this is possible for human fragility (p. 101). As God loves us with a love that is true and pure, a love that never breaks, we too will be joined to Him in a never-ending unshakable love, and it will be such a union that our breathing and our thinking and our talking will be ‘God’. And we will come as last to that objective which I have mentioned, the goal which the Lord prayed to be fulfilled in us: ‘That we may all be one as we are one, as I am in them and you in me so that they are utterly one’ (John 17:22-23). ‘Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am’ (John 17:24). This, then, is the goal of the monk. All his striving must be for this so that he may deserve to possess in this life an image of future happiness and may have the beginnings of a foretaste in this body of that life and glory of heaven. This, I say, is the object of all perfection, to have the soul so removed from all dalliance with the body that it rises each day to the things of the spirit until all its living and all its wishing become one unending prayer (pp. 129-130). A very clear proof of the fact that a soul has not yet cut loose from the corruption of sin is when it feels no sympathizing pity for the wrongdoing of others but holds instead to the strict censoriousness of a judge (p. 149). Cassian keeps for us a sense of monasticism as it was in its youthful vigor; one will not look here for the exalted refinements of later medieval mystical writers, but the core is there, pure as ever. Front matter reasonably helpful for shaping the novice’s understanding of what he is about to read. The so-called ‘Benedict option’ today – invoked by Alasdair MacIntyre in the concluding paragraph to his After Virtue in 1981 and lately popularized by Rod Dreher – is not just for monks or crazy survivalist cults, but for anyone of whatever religious conviction who cares to preserve a remnant of civilization in what looks to be the coming dark age—and perhaps even for an odd secularist here and there who, like the previsionary Nietzsche in the nineteenth century, has not altogether forgotten our cultural heritage and will not bury his head in the sand like an ostrich, as so many do. Can be practiced on small scale: homeschooling, parish life, spiritual direction and reception of the sacraments, leisure-time reading, mystical prayer and contemplation. Whether or not one happens to be an eastern Orthodox Christian, the collection of monastic writings going under the (etymologically very telling) heading of the Philokalia must come as most highly to be recommended. If one be familiar with the deep-seated attachment among the medieval laity to assimilating monastic practices, so far as feasible under the circumstances of its station in life (documented nicely by Marie-Dominique Chenu in Nature, Man and Society in the Twelfth Century, chapter 6), it will be apparent to the unprejudiced that it is not so very difficult after all to adapt prescriptions intended for monks to the needs of the layman (mutatis mutandis). There are several groups active in the contemporary world who essay just this, the sanctification of all aspects of life, should one be apprehensive about setting out intrepidly on one’s own. For to be sure, just as the last thing that would have occurred to the monks and nuns of old would have been to found a political program and ideology, a forerunner whether of current-day neo-fascism on the right or of identity politics on the left, to be relentlessly and imperiously foisted upon everyone else; so too for us today it will rather be dedicated attention to the seemingly little things in life, along with cultivation of the virtues (which always apply first of all to oneself) and a real peaceableness directed to others, that makes the difference to the renewal of a society riven with hatred and recrimination on all sides.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    John Cassian lived from 360-435 AD, during the life of Augustine of Hippo. The Conferences is his primary writing, a series of twenty-four dialogues (conferences) with various holy monks. The most interesting of these are conferences three and thirteen where we find discussion on free will and predestination. During Cassian's life the church was experiencing the debate between Augustine and Pelagius. Pelagius argued humans were born more or less in the same situation as our first parents, Adam a John Cassian lived from 360-435 AD, during the life of Augustine of Hippo. The Conferences is his primary writing, a series of twenty-four dialogues (conferences) with various holy monks. The most interesting of these are conferences three and thirteen where we find discussion on free will and predestination. During Cassian's life the church was experiencing the debate between Augustine and Pelagius. Pelagius argued humans were born more or less in the same situation as our first parents, Adam and Eve, sinless. Born sinless, we have Adam as a bad example which we follow. Thus, Jesus dies for us and we can freely choose to accept his forgiveness. On the other side was Augustine, who argued that in Adam all humanity fell into sin. We are born sinful and guilty, unable to save ourselves. The only way any can be saved is if God gives us life, gifts us with faith. Cassian's work, much less well-known, comes in between these two. It has often been called "semi-Pelagianism" and it was condemned by a church council sometime in the 500s. Yet it could just as easily be called "semi-Augustinianism". Cassian argues that sometimes humans choose God and sometimes God compels humans. His is a sort of mystical theology, saying we can't really know how it works but perhaps in the end we both freely choose God and he compels us. For any who are interested in such theological questions, reading conferences 3 and 13 would be enriching. The rest of the conferences are at times helpful and at times a lightning bolt from a foreign world. There is a reason this has never caught on as a devotional in the same way as The Imitation of Christ, for example. You can read it as a devotional and you will find things that challenge you. But unless you are a monk living in the desert, you will find much either just weird, or even just plain wrong. One monk tells of how he was married and felt called by God to forsake the world and go into the desert. He just assumed his wife would do the same and when she refused, he divorced her to spend his life in solitude, contemplating God. My reaction - what a jerk. Another story is told of a monk who was "dead to the world" for twenty years, so he refused to leave his cell to help his brother save a farm animal that had fallen in a ditch. To me, it seems Jesus would want people to honor their marriage vows and help those in need. Such practical things are much more important than meditating in the desert. Of course, both those stories are from the final two conferences and there was a lot of thought provoking parts earlier. Maybe I was just getting tired of it. Thus, I give four stars for the conferences on free will and predestination and three stars for most of the rest of it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dan Glover

    There were things I did not like about this book, mainly because there are elements of the desert monastic tradition that I have serious problems with, but a charitable reading will find much rich treasure for the spiritual life in this book. This was more humane, pastoral and balanced than I expected, and, as C.S. Lewis has said in his preface to St. Athanasius' On the Incarnation, the errors and blind spots of the past are not our errors and blind spots and so old books like this have much to There were things I did not like about this book, mainly because there are elements of the desert monastic tradition that I have serious problems with, but a charitable reading will find much rich treasure for the spiritual life in this book. This was more humane, pastoral and balanced than I expected, and, as C.S. Lewis has said in his preface to St. Athanasius' On the Incarnation, the errors and blind spots of the past are not our errors and blind spots and so old books like this have much to say to us by way of correction. I especially liked the explanation of spiritual reading of the Scriptures (4 fold), Cassian's insights on the life of unceasing prayer (its purpose, theology and practice), on spiritual discernment being the mother and guide of all virtues, on balance in one's spiritual walk, and on the (in our day lost) practice of exposing and confessing our sins to others who can help us grow in sanctification or "purity of heart," without which no one will attain to God's kingdom. Also, the reception and respect of tradition and received wisdom of the elders/ancients with a heart of humility (though not without critical interaction) and the practices of fasting, meditation on Scripture, and other hard spiritual disciplines could help the lazy and confused church find strength and direction today.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I did not read the whole thing, as it is incredibly long. However, I was impressed that a 5th century ascetic classic is so accessible and readable.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    "The perfect love with which God 'first loved us' (1 Jn 4:10) will come into our hearts, for our faith tells us that this prayer of our Savior will not be in vain. And these will be the signs of God being all that we love and all that we want. He will be all that we are zealous for, all that we strive for. He will be all that we think about, all our living, all that we talk about, our very breath. And that union of Father and Son, of Son and Father, will fill our senses and our minds. As God lov "The perfect love with which God 'first loved us' (1 Jn 4:10) will come into our hearts, for our faith tells us that this prayer of our Savior will not be in vain. And these will be the signs of God being all that we love and all that we want. He will be all that we are zealous for, all that we strive for. He will be all that we think about, all our living, all that we talk about, our very breath. And that union of Father and Son, of Son and Father, will fill our senses and our minds. As God loves us with a love that is true and pure, a love that never breaks, we too will be joined to Him in a never-ending unshakable love, and it will be such a union that our breathing and our thinking and our talking will be 'God.'" (Conf 10, 7) This was remarkably good, I was disappointed in myself for purchasing it and then leaving it on my shelf for so long. Written in the 4th century as a end-of-life recollections of conferences and discussions Cassian had attended with Egyptian desert monks in his youth, each collection (more or less) covers the teachings of a different abba or holy man. Each conference covers a different thematic topic ranging from the goal or objective of a monk to the gifts of God, prayer, perfection, discernment, etc. Purchased a translation of The Institutes and looking forward to reading that next.

  7. 4 out of 5

    C Lucas

    This books is simply a manual for those who would be monks, written by one who sought out advice from monastics in the Holy Land, Levant and Egypt. That's was its purpose, but its broader goal is instruction in prayer. It's basically a technical manual. If one wants to understand how to pray (a task which might seem so simple that we'd wonder at the need for a technical manual), one must understand the pre-requisites of effective, earnest prayer. And herein is where this work, composed seventeen This books is simply a manual for those who would be monks, written by one who sought out advice from monastics in the Holy Land, Levant and Egypt. That's was its purpose, but its broader goal is instruction in prayer. It's basically a technical manual. If one wants to understand how to pray (a task which might seem so simple that we'd wonder at the need for a technical manual), one must understand the pre-requisites of effective, earnest prayer. And herein is where this work, composed seventeen centuries ago, explodes with its practicality and deep understanding of man's psyche. Cassian's voice is wonderfully anachronistic. Many of his assumptions and observations took me aback: how could someone have this much insight into our cogitations and our universal inability to understand mindfulness before 20th century psychology, before westerners had come into contact with the many rich resources of Buddhist practitioners for those seeking (any form of) "spirituality?"! T

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zecchaeus Jensen

    I think I finished it, but at least read most, I believe.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Fr. Jedidiah Tritle

    Surprisingly practical for the contemporary spiritual life, St. John Cassian shares his wisdom concerning growth in the monastic spiritual life. It's important to separate his understanding of monasticism in the Eastern Church from that of the West. While the West is characterized by community life governed by a rule (Benedictines, Dominicans, etc.), the Eastern tradition gives the monk much more personal freedom to do with as he or she sees fit. Essentially, Cassian teaches the reader how to go Surprisingly practical for the contemporary spiritual life, St. John Cassian shares his wisdom concerning growth in the monastic spiritual life. It's important to separate his understanding of monasticism in the Eastern Church from that of the West. While the West is characterized by community life governed by a rule (Benedictines, Dominicans, etc.), the Eastern tradition gives the monk much more personal freedom to do with as he or she sees fit. Essentially, Cassian teaches the reader how to govern their own spiritual growth in cooperation with a spiritual director, taking wisdom from their elders, and living the Christian life in an increasingly secular and apathetic world--all pertinent for today, as well.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mir

    I read this many years ago and all I remember is really disliking the way his neck is distorted in the cover image. (I dislike most of the covers in this series, but this one the most.) I just tried rereading it and it seemed boring. Shrug. I guess I'd recommend this more to those interested in the historical development of religious ideas than in theology per se. Cassian's writing is clear enough but not especially interesting or moving.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Harman

    Lots of good material to consider for personal edification if you know enough history and philosophy to translate Cassian's worldview to our own. Often he struck me as dangerously close to espousing Gnostic views of the body and physical world, adhering a bit too stubbornly to some Neo-Platonisms less easily accommodated to orthodoxy than others. Passages on prayer and meditation on Scripture were superb and helpful. Do your research before reading.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    I consider the reading of this book to be a watershed event in my life. I don't recommend reading it as a matter of curiosity or to gain some intellectual knowledge, however. Such approaches will obscure its benefits.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    A fascinating read for anyone interested in the spiritual life or monasticism. I blogged on this here: http://pastormack.wordpress.com/2014/... A fascinating read for anyone interested in the spiritual life or monasticism. I blogged on this here: http://pastormack.wordpress.com/2014/...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Christian Proano

    Lectura rapida, interesante exposición del Padre Nuestro que podría servir para catequizar/discipular. Util también cuando recomienda que debemos preparar la mente antes de la oración.

  15. 4 out of 5

    booklady

    Have had this on my shelves for years ... and meant to read it. Our parish youth minister, Frank, referred to it last November and it piqued my interest. Thanks Frank!

  16. 4 out of 5

    David Hain

    Want to understand the teachings of the desert fathers? Here is 700+ pages of first hand account of their thoughts, questions and teachings.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    I find most of these early monastic texts inspiring as they call me back to my roots, ask me to find a truly radical spirituality.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    I liked Cassian's value of moderation, discretion, and insight against self-delusion.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rob Petersen

    Cassian's conferences are a series of interviews with various spiritual masters among the desert monastics, covering a wide array of topics.

  20. 4 out of 5

    8314

    Heroic! Truly heroic! What an epic battle I am witnessing!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I liked this one. The typical anti-material bent of any Ancient Near Eastern spirituality notwithstanding, Cassian's work has a lot to offer even after 1500 years.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christopher J.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mark

  24. 4 out of 5

    Luke Smith

  25. 5 out of 5

    Omar

  26. 4 out of 5

    He Li

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marsha

  28. 5 out of 5

    Massimo

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  30. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

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