Cassian (360-430) was a bridge figure of incalculable importance between Christian East and West, transmitting the forms of early Egyptian monasticism to the incipient monasticism of western Europe. Born in what is now Romania, he traveled to Egypt where for about fifteen years he gave himself (as did Palladius and John Moschus) to xeniteia, the spiritual wandering of one who is ''a stranger and sojourner on the earth,'' collecting and recording stories and traditions of the Desert Fathers. He was ordained deacon by St. John Chrysostom, priest by St. Ambrose, and was then called to Provence to establish monastic communities there. In was in this context that he composed his Monastic Institutes
and his Conferences
, which together contain the fundamental principles of all later monasticism. The only early monastic literature written in Latin, it was relied upon in St. Benedict's formation of his own rule. In this new book, the only study currently available in English devoted solely to Cassian, Benedictine monk Columba Stewart has admirably combined a history of Cassian the man, a lucid summary of his spirituality, and ultimately, a synthesis of Cassian's theology. We owe Stewart a great debt in holding before us anew this luminous giant of the early Church, who has so much to teach us concerning the ways of prayer, of reading the Bible, of appropriating and living out Tradition, of placing our hope on heaven.
An Eighth Day View:
This book is a study of the life, monastic writings, and spiritual theology of John Cassian (c., 360-435). His Institutes and Conferences are a remarkable synthesis of earlier monastic traditions, especially those of fourth-century Egypt, informed throughout by Cassian's awareness of the particular needs of the Latin monastic movement he was helping to shape.