Philokalia Ministries
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Twenty Two On Nocturnal Illusions Part III

Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Twenty Two On Nocturnal Illusions Part III

June 2, 2016

Abba Theonas continues to draw Cassian and Germanus into the greater vision of the Christian life - guided not by law but by grace.  The measure of holiness for the Christian is always Christ, the sinless one, and so even though our conscience does not rebuke us we know that we are but worthless servants who have only done our duty.  We seek the purity of heart and chastity that not only avoids fornication but seeks freedom from all wantonness.  In this the fundamental attitude of the Christian must be humility.  We must live in a constant state of repentance, penance and prayer; understanding that daily we fall through weakness into the capital sins and that it is only by being lifted up by God's grace and participating in the perfect purity of Christ that we come to share in the holiness of God.  

Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Nine On Prayer, Part VI

Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Nine On Prayer, Part VI

February 19, 2015

Along with Cassian and Germanus, we came to the end of the first conference on prayer with Abba Issac, where discussion focussed on the different origins of tears (consciousness of one's own sins, fear of Gehenna, the sins of others, and the hardships of this life in the face of a deep longing for heaven).  Tears are to be fostered as a part of compunction, but never forced once one has reached deeper level of prayer, so as not to focus on things of lesser importance.  

Prayers are heard or not heard for various reasons.  Our hearts must be filled with a kind of urgency that gives rise to persistence in prayer and we must not doubt that God will hear and answer our prayers in due course, so long as like our Lord we seek only the will of God and what is for our salvation.
Prayer is to be engaged in silently; not only so as not to disturb others but in order not to reveal to demons the more intimate aspects of our relationship with God.  Some things are only to be shared between the soul and the Heavenly Bridegroom.
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Nine On Prayer, Part III

Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Nine On Prayer, Part III

January 22, 2015

Germanus, Cassian's traveling companion, begins this section by talking about the mind's inconstancy and seeming inability to hold on to holy thoughts.  He presses Abba Issac to move ahead with a discussion on how to pray without ceasing.  But Abba Issac knows that there is work that must first be done in understanding the various aspects of prayer as outlined by the Apostle Paul and to see an example of the forms of prayer expressed perfectly and in unison by Jesus in the Our Father.  No person's prayers are uniform and each is affected by their level of purity of heart.

A rather lengthy discussion ensued about the struggle with secularism and worldliness that impedes the freedom and simplicity necessary to allow prayer to become the focus and center of one's life.  
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Nine On Prayer, Part I

Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Nine On Prayer, Part I

January 8, 2015

Prayer is the subject of conferences 9 and 10 and its importance is underlined at the very beginning of the 9th: "The end of every monk and the perfection of his heart incline him to constant and uninterrupted perseverance in prayer." But this constant prayer demands, in turn, perfection of heart and the virtues that go with it.  This ninth conference serves as a kind of preliminary, among other things establishing the conditions for prayer and the different possible characteristics of prayer.  

Conferences of St. John Cassian: Conference Three on Renunciation -Part I

Conferences of St. John Cassian: Conference Three on Renunciation -Part I

April 24, 2014

Cassian takes up the theme of the three sources of one's calling to the monastic life or to conversion (God, the example of others, need) and the three types of renunciation essential for living a life of deep conversion (detachment from worldly goods, one's passions, and from all things that prevent theoria or contemplation.)  Discussion ensued about compunction, conversion in one's daily life, and embracing a spirit of renunciation in the modern world.

Ladder of Divine Ascent - Step Seven On Mourning

Ladder of Divine Ascent - Step Seven On Mourning

June 27, 2013

JOYFUL SORROW: TEARS OF REPENTANCE THAT LEAD US INTO THE EMBRACE OF LOVE

In this step John discusses the source of tears and what they do for the soul.  Not only are they a gift of God which purifies our hearts and drains away our passions, but true tears produce joy within the heart.  Mourning gives way to the consolation of being forgiven by and reconciled with God.

At the heart of our mourning, then, is love for God.  We weep because we long for God and the love that He alone can provide.  According to John, this makes it one of the most important and essential of virtues.

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