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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers John Cassian, Abbot at Marseilles, 433.

John Cassian was born about 360, though there are differing opinions as to where he was born and reared. As a young adult, he and a friend traveled to Palestine, where they entered a hermitage for three years. Some time later, they went on to Egypt. There John and his companion visited a number of desert monasteries. At this point in Christian history, the area was consumed by theological controversy, and John seems to have gotten caught up in the disputes.

Around the year 399, John went to Constantinople, where he appealed for protection from the Patriarch, John Chrysostom (see January 27). John Chrysostom was himself mired in controversy, and soon he was exiled. On to Rome went John Cassian to plead his case before Pope Innocent I. In Rome, John was invited to start a desert-style monastery in Gaul.

Today we remember John Cassian for his writings, which captured the essence of desert monasticism of the fourth century. He described a three-fold process: Purgatio, Illuminatio, and Unitio. In the first, young monks sought to purge their flesh of gluttony, lust, and greed. Next, the monks embarked on a time of care for the poor, learning to seek Christ there. Finally, desert monks went into isolation, seeking to find and unite with Christ in mystical solitude.

Eternal God, for all monastics who pray without ceasing on our behalf, we give you thanks. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

Holy and Mighty One, whose beloved Son Jesus Christ blessed the pure in heart: We give you thanks for the life and teachings of John Cassian that draw us to a discipline of holy living for the sake of your reign. Call us to turn the gaze of the eyes of our soul always toward you, that we may abide in your love, shown to us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit is one God, living and true, to the ages of ages. Amen.

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