8. CASSIAN 365-435



Cassian, a disciple of Evagrius, set out to explain the teaching of the Fathers of the Desert for cenobitic monks. St Benedict had read Cassian and in chapter 73 of his Rule he recommends that we read him too. This was because he discerned in Cassian the rich spiritual teachings of the desert Fathers which Evagrius had synthesised. Cassian takes up the teaching of Evagrius, but not in a very systematic way. He does not separate

each stage of the spiritual life and on purpose leaves out any harshness.

I. His Life
II. His Works:

The Institutes
The discours of Pinufius
The conferences
Conference 1
III. Conclusion



1) Birth and Childhood - 365?

Cassian was born about the year 365, about 13 years after the death of Antony. Evagrius was 20 years older than him. He was born in what is today Roumania, but which at that time straddled two empires: East-West, at a moment when a gulf was forming between East and West. There we have the first interesting point about Cassian. He belonged as much to the Greek world as to the Latin, Greek and Latin being equally well spoken in his country. He wrote in Latin, but not a very pure Latin, that of the frontier of the empire. From his works we learn that he came from a Christian family which was fairly well off and thus arranged for him to follow the usual studies undertaken at that time.

2) Monastic Experience - 383?

Having finished his studies Cassian felt called to the monastic life. Led by his friend Germanus, he set out for Palestine. The two friends were received into a cell of the monastery of Bethlehem where they stayed for two years. Cassian was still very young, about 17 or 18 years old.

3) Pilgrimage to Egypt - 385?

After spending two years in this monastery at Bethlehem, and hearing people talk about the monks of Egypt, Cassian asked his abbot's permission to go there for a while and have a look. His superior valued him and fearing he would not return, began by refusing. Cassian insisted, so his abbot gave permission on condition that he made a vow to come back in two years. Cassian promised him and departed with his friend Germanus.

The hermit life in Egypt appealed to the two friends so much that two years passed very quickly. They told each other that they certainly ought to go back because of their vow, but it was a nuisance. So they went to see an old man, a spiritual father, who explained to them that it had been a good thing to make a vow but it was even better to remain in Egypt (Conference 17). Cassian was easily convinced, and the two of them remained for another ten years in Egypt.

What did Cassian do during this stay in Egypt? He began by going round everywhere to see what was happening. Then he settled in the desert of the Cells near the Origenist monks where he became a disciple of Evagrius. Evagrius was a learned man, as we have seen, he was a great reader of Origen and had gathered round himself other monks who were called 'Origenists'.

This is another noteworthy aspect of Cassian's personality. He knew the the life of the desert monks from the inside, and he was a friend of one of them who had thought deeply about their teaching and systematized it.

So Cassian joined this group of Origenist monks and shared their fate when they were expelled. He tells the story himself (Conference 10): Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, who respected and supported Evagrius and his friends, challenged the anthropomorphist monks in one of the letters which he wrote each year for the Feast of Easter. There were many of them, and a crowd of them armed with sticks came down to Alexandria and organised a huge demonstration against the patriarch. They reproached him, justifiably perhaps, about his way of life. In order to calm them down and satisfy them, Theophilus rather conveniently found out that Origen was a heretic and turned against the Origenist monks. In 400, he had them forcibly expelled by soldiers. Evagrius had just died, but Cassian, Germanus and their friends left Egypt in 399.

4) At Constantinople - 400

Having been expelled from Egypt, these monks sought a refuge and a protector. They found it in the person of John Chrysostom who welcomed them with open arms. Germanus was ordained a priest and Cassian a deacon. All went well until the day when John, who was uncompromising rather than tactful, fell foul of the emperor who sent him into exile. Cassian and Germanus were then sent to Rome to tell the pope what had happened.

5) Rome - Antioch - Rome - 405

Cassian stayed a short while in Rome, then went to Antioch. The bishop there incorporated him into his clergy and ordained him priest against his will. That is why, in a passage in the Institutes, he quotes a saying of the Elders: "A monk must flee absolutely women and bishops".

Then the bishop sent him to Rome again as an ambassador. He returned there and made friends with the pope, Innocent I, who held him in high regard and confided in him. he also got to know a young deacon who later became Pope: St Leo the Great. It is more than likely that Germanus died in Rome because we hear nothing more of him after this.

In all this there is another interesting feature about Cassian; he lived in each of the four great patriarchates which made up the catholic and orthodox Church of that time: Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople and Rome. He remains a privileged witness to the undivided Church.

6) At Constantinople - 415?

We are not quite sure of the date, nor do we know the reason, but one day a small boat arrived at Marseille and someone got out... John Cassian.

Of this we are quite sure, however: it was truly providential! For he arrived when there were many attempts at monastic life in Gaul, but they had all more or less failed - at Ligugé with St Martin, at Lérins and at Arles. Cassian however brought with him an unusual experience. He already knew about the hermit life, he had lived alone in a cell in the desert and had been in contact with the greatest Fathers of the desert of his time. He had also been called to the diplomatic and ecclesiastical service which made him aware of all the great movements which were spreading throughout Christianity in both East and West. In this way he had already acquired a whole human and spiritual culture which he could profitably pass on to the monks of Gaul.

According to an apocryphal letter of the fifth century, Proculus, the bishop of Marseilles, confided the monks who had gathered round him top the care of Cassian. Did he really found two monasteries as is supposed? There is no evidence. He was still alive in 430 when he wrote a treatise against Nestorius at the request of Pope Leo. He died about 435; and by 470 his holiness had been recognised by everyone.


It was to give the benefit of his experience to the monks of Gaul that Cassian wrote his two works, one in about 421, the other in 426. It would be more correct to say 'his work', because this very important work, divided into two, is one whole. Cassian is one of those people who, the moment who, the moment they take up their pen, know exactly what they want to say. Basil and Bernard are like that; their teaching is formed from the start.




  1) Preface to Castor, bishop of Apt 1-4 to the end of the discourse of Pinufius

Formation of the exterior


CENOBITIC INSTITUTES 2) 5-12: the eight capital vices  
CONFERENCES 3) Preface to Leontius, bishop of Fréjus

1-10 = 10

Formation of the interior

  4) Preface to Honoratus & Eucher abbot & monk of Lérins
11-17 = 7


  5) Preface to Jovinien, Leontius, Minervius, Theodore (abbot)
18-24 = 7

Perfection of the interior

  Total = 24 (Elders of the Apocalypse)  

The two works of Cassian, the Cenobitic Institutes, that is to say the 'way of life of cenobites', and the Collations or Conferences, which means the 'Conversations' or 'Interviews', are marvellously construed, as is shown by the plan above. It is one single work divided into five parts.


PLAN of the 'INSTITUTES': 1-4
1. Symbolism of monk's clothing
2. The Night Office
3. The Day Office
4. How monks live:
a) Introduction
b) Formation in monastic life
c) Life in the monastery
d) Some exemplary monks
e) The spirit of monastic life:
the discourse of Pinufius


These are composed of two parts. The second deals with the 'eight thoughts' of Evagrius. The first is more complex. Here is the plan.

Cassian begins, as did Evagrius in the 'Practical Treatise', by tracing the symbolism of the clothing of the monk(1). This is what we notice most when we arrive at a monastery. Another striking thing is to be woken up at

night for office. Cassian deals with the night office in (2). He describes the Pachomian office: 12 psalms and two readings; between each psalm a prostration, but not a long one for fear of falling asleep. With some humour he says: "They say that someone remaining prostrate too long is more seriously attacked, not only by thoughts but by sleep". He speaks next of the day offices (3). Here Cassian gives as a norm the offices of the monks in Palestine and Mesopotamia: the three hours of Terce, Sext and None and goes on to explain their symbolism. He mentions that in the West a morning office has just been added.

We come next to a section (4) divided into 4 parts; an introduction (a); then formation in monastic life (b); life in a monastery (c); some exemplary monks, the last being Pinufius (d).


1) Before admission
a) ten days of probation 3
b) renunciation of wealth 4-5
c) monastic clothing 6
d) a year in the guest house
before being assigned to an abba 7
2) Preliminary teachings of the Abba
a) to overcome self-will 8
b) disclosure of conscience 9
c) obedience 10
a) practice of obedience 12
b) complete detachment 13-15
c) 'penitential' 16
d) food 17-18
e) organisation & spirit of services
in the East 19-21
in Egypt 22
a) John of Lycopolis 23-26
b) Patermulus 27-28
c) A brother from a noble family 29
d) Pinufius 30-31
Discourse of Pinufius 32-35


Cassian uses this abbot as an example to introduce a discourse on the spirit of monastic life which we are going to study.

First let us highlight a few points in this rich passage.

(8) In the "teaching of the Abba" on overcoming self-will, the phrase: "deliberately to bid him to do something which he said to be contrary to his temperament" may surprise us. But we must look more closely. The abba knows that the monk cannot control his lust unless he has already learned to mortify his will by obedience. It is a question of the lower affective faculty submitting to the higher. It is a means of growing in love, not arbitrary bullying. We obey a human being so as to become accustomed to obeying God. It must also be seen in the context of the times; the monks of Gaul were not very disciplined!

9) We should also notice the insistence on disclosure of conscience, an essential practice in early monasticism. A wily devil can only confront a young brother or make him fall by forcing him to conceal his thoughts through pride or human respect.
(12) On the subject of obedience, there is a reference to the saying of Silvain to his disciple Mark (no:18): "... He who practises as a scribe dare not finish the letter he has begun". Mark was a scribe.

(17) Reading during meals comes not from Pachomius but from Basil.


I. Introduction
II. Setting out for perfection
1) Renunciation of the world
2) Demands of fidelity.
III . Ascent towards charity
1) From fear to humility
2) Practical method.

In 'd', about the first exemplary monk, John of Lycopolis we find (24) the Saying about the wood (no:16), but in a more plausible form. In 'Patermutus' (Pater-mutus = "dumb Father" as he watches the sufferings imposed on his child), we find the Saying where an abba, as a test, bids one of his disciples who has children to throw his youngest son into the Nile.

Writing about the last of the 'exemplary monks' enables Cassian to pass on valuable teaching through the discourse of Abba Pinufius at the clothing of a novice. It is in the fifth section where Cassian describes the spirit of monastic life. We can see then how well the first part of the Institutes is constructed: starting with the outside, which is easily seen, we go on to what is within.

First we will study the fifth part, the discourse of Pinufius,for which there is a plan.

The text was not written haphazardly. It reflects teaching known to St Benedict for he quotes some passages from this section almost word for word. (Text)

The second part of the Institutes takes up the teaching of Evagrius on thoughts.

in chapter 5, notice Cassian's discretion regarding fasting: his rule varies according to the person - food must be taken as health requires and not according to our desires. The end of the chapter (24-41) records "many axioms of the elders". Notice especially a beautiful definition of prayer (35) "they hold a conversation with God and hold on to him clasped in their hearts".

With regard to anger, it is interesting to observe that it darkens our inner vision and impedes the light of the Holy Spirit (VIII:1). Sadness snatches us away from contemplation (IX:1).

Concerning the last two thoughts, the most searching, Cassian, writing for cenobites, makes a connection between vainglory and singularity in the common life (XI:16). Pride is the first of the capital sins, it attacks the very person of God and so deserves to have him as an enemy (XII:7).

At the end of this section we find once more the teaching given in the discourse of Pinufius:

Fear of God ? nakedness ? renunciation ? humility ? virtues ? charity (XII:31).


The Conferences echo the formation given by an abba from among the Desert Fathers to a young candidate. They deal with very varied aspects of the monastic life. The scheme on page 84 shows that this formation is progressive.

We will study the first Conference on: "The objective and the ultimate goal of the monk".

But you should read them all. We will indicate the most important.

The second is on discernment of thoughts: discretion is a priceless gift of divine grace; it is a charism of the Holy Spirit which enables us to see in the night.

The third is on three calls, three riches, three renunciations. Three calls from God: directly, through a human intermediary, through necessity. Three riches: bad, good, or indifferent. Three renunciations:
1) exterior = things (Proverbs); 2) interior = attachment to things (Ecclesiastes); 3) withdrawal from the visible world through a desire for invisible things (Song of Songs).

The fourth is on concupiscence: three causes of dryness are explained.

The fifth comes back to the 'eight thoughts' seen from experience. The capital sins are interconnected; there is a special way to fight them.

The sixth speaks of the problem of evil and temptation.

The ninth and tenth deal with prayer. These conferences are particularly interesting. We give a plan on TABLE 7. (Book 2).

The fourteenth Conference is also very important. It gives Cassian's teaching on lectio divina. After an introduction, Cassian tells us that every kind of knowledge has its own laws. It is the same for religious life which he defines as the knowledge directed towards the contemplation of heavenly mysteries. This knowledge is twofold. Here Cassian reproduces Evagrius' distinction in the spiritual life between praktike-theoretike = asceticism-contemplation. Asceticism is the foundation of contemplation; and the foundation of asceticism is the struggle against vices.

So here again we find:

struggle against the vices Ŝ practice of virtue Ŝ contemplation = the principles of Evagrius.

It is in dealing with theoretike that we come to lectio divina. Cassian takes from Origen the division of the meanings of Scripture: the historical or literal interpretation; and the spiritual interpretation consisting of three branches: tropology, allegory, anagogue. Then he speaks about the conditions for lectio divina: purity of heart, humility, perseverance. Here again the teaching of Origen is apparent. After a passage on distractions, he describes the fruits of lectio divina: the perfection of spiritual knowledge.

Now we will go back to Conference 1. (Text: The aim and the goal of the monk).



Having gone through these texts and tables, we need to conclude with a synthesis of Cassian's teaching. We will find that many points have been studied.

As a disciple of Evagrius, Cassian outlines the teaching of his master in his own words, but with slight differences and without his excesses. The spiritual life is oriented towards the life of heaven, a life of union with God who is charity. Its goal is charity which Cassian likens to purity of heart.

We reach it by renunciation. This is his teaching on the three renunciations outlined above. The first step is to leave the world, divesting oneself outwardly to live in solitude. But this must be followed by a second renunciation, divesting oneself inwardly by abandoning former habits, passions and vices. This is the theme of spiritual warfare: we must fight against vices in order to acquire virtues. Cassian recommends first discretion in the Latin meaning of the word: 'to choose'; between two extremes we must choose the happy medium where the moral good is to be found. In order to be formed in this virtue we must submit to the judgement of an abba and this presupposes humility. We see here the formation given to a young aspirant by an abba among the Desert Fathers.

Patience leading to self-control will be one of the fruits of spiritual warfare. In this way the soul attains peace, stillness, purity of heart - three aspects of the same reality: charity, the first step in contemplation. For Cassian charity is both a means and an end. We cannot reach perfect charity except by practising charity which is the source of all virtues. Hard-won contemplation leads to a contemplation which is simple, tranquil and overflowing.

This will lead the monk to the third and last renunciation "in which all perfection is contained". It dispels all remembrance of the present world and carries our gaze to our everlasting dwelling place. In this state a monk is grounded in purity of heart, Cassian's name for what Evagrius calls apatheia. Baptism has born fruit in such a soul. Without being aware of himself and knowing that he is praying, so without self-reflection, he is constantly turned towards the Father. Charity has become constant in this state and it is sometimes expressed by the "prayer of fire".

Formed in the eremitical school, Cassian seems convinced that the solitary life is better than life in a monastery. Yet he is full aware of the dangers of solitude through his own experience. He makes it clear that the desert is not without dangers, solitary life involves possibility of failure, whereas cenobitic life offers sure and solid benefits. Among the inconveniences of the solitary life he mentions the need to provide for oneself, the danger of vain glory, the pursuit of the unusual and peculiar. The conclusion he draws, and which St Benedict follows, is that the eremitical life is only suitable for souls cleansed and purified from their vices.

Cassian then is a man of sound judgement, experienced, prudent and unassuming. Formed in the school of St Antony for whom human nature is good, he was opposed to the pessimism of Augustine. He tried to reconcile these two views, recognising both the fundamental goodness of human nature and the necessity of grace; but he did not have sufficient theological expertise to deal with such a difficult subject, and he was accused of 'semi-Pelagianism'; but his basic thought was true to the faith. This does not prevent him from being considered an outstanding master of ascetical and mystical ways. His work prepared the way for Western monasticism and had a major influence in the development of Catholic spirituality in the whole church.



Institutes and Conferences. Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, vol XI.
Eerdman's 1982

John Cassian: Conferences. Classics of Western Spirituality

Chadwick, Owen: John Cassian. Cambridge 1968

Rousseau, Philip: Ascetics, Authority and the Church. Oxford 1978






1) Why is Cassian's life so interesting?

2) What are the principal writings of Cassian? What do these titles mean?

3) Cassian conveys the development of the spiritual life in a systematic way. What is the first
step? Where does this lead us? What is the position of humility in this scheme?

4) What difference does Cassian make between the objective and the ultimate goal?

5) What attitude does Cassian recommend towards distractions?

6) In text 9, the two stages of contemplation of Evagrius are found again, are they not?





In chapter 7 of the discourse of Pinufius, you will have recognized the source of chapter 7 in the Rule of St Benedict: the degrees of humility.

Try to make a table with three parallel columns, in the first write this text of Cassian, in the second, the degrees of humility from the Rule. In the third column put the third ladder which Cassian gives as a summary at the end of the discourse of Pinufius, text 12. Then link up the different degrees by arrows. Some interesting conclusions can be drawn from this.

For example, notice where humility comes in each of the three columns. Where does one start from and what does one go to? There are ten degrees in Cassian and twelve in Benedict. Why is this? There are differences in the order of degrees. Why is this?





Institutions 4



You know how many days you have been staying outside the monastery before being admitted today. First you must learn why it is difficult to get inside. This will help you to understand the life on which you wish to enter, if you will serve Christ in this way as you ought.


For as God has promised immense glory in the future to those who serve him faithfully and cling to him according to the rule of this institute, so too severe punishment is in store for those who follow him carelessly and half-heartedly and care little for the fruits of holiness worthy of their profession and what men believed of them. For according to Scripture it is better "not to make vows than having made them to fail to fulfil them", and "Cursed is the man who does the work of the Lord carelessly".

This is why we have turned you away for so long: it is not that we do not desire to embrace yours and everyone's salvation with all our hearts and that we do not wish to go to meet, even afar off, all those who long to turn to Christ; but we fear that admitting you too easily, we become guilty of inconstancy before God and bring an even greater punishment upon you if, being admitted too easily, and not understanding the seriousness of your profession, you then abandon it, or live in a careless manner.

Setting out for perfection


That is why you must first learn the motive for your renunciation of the world: and having seen it, you will be instructed more clearly in what you must do.


Renunciation is nothing less than the sign of the cross of Christ and his death. That is why you must today recognise yourself as dead to the world, to its doings and its desires, and according to the word of the Apostle, you are crucified to the world and the world to you. Consider then the meaning of the cross, the mystery in whose light you must live , for now, "it is no longer you who live, but he who was crucified for you lives in you."

We must conform our lives to that state and manner in which he was hung of a gibbet for us so that, as David says, piercing our flesh with the fear of the Lord, our wills and desires will no longer be at the service of our own cravings, but fastened to this cross which puts them to death. In this way we shall fulfil the command of the Lord: "He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me".


But perhaps you will ask how a man can carry his cross all the time, and how a living man can be crucified. Listen, quite briefly.


Our cross is the fear of the Lord. Then, as a crucified man cannot move his limbs as he pleases, so we too must set our wills and desires on the law of the Lord where it restrains us, no longer on what is pleasant and delightful to us now. He who is fastened to the gibbet of the cross no longer considers present advantages, nor thinks of his affections, nor is he tormented by the cares and anxieties of tomorrow, nor excited by the lure of gain, nor inflamed by any pride, rivalry, or dispute, he is not troubled by present grievances or remembrance of those of the past; although he still lives in the body, he considers himself dead to all earthly things, for his heart is already turned towards the place to which he knows he will one day come. In the same way, we too, through the fear of the Lord, must be crucified to all these things, dead not only to the vices of the flesh but even to all these earthly things, keeping the eyes of our soul fixed on the place we hope each moment to reach. In this way we can put to death all our cravings and carnal affections.


Be careful never to take back what you rejected when you renounced the world and, in spite of the Lord's command, turn away from the field of the gospel where you are working to put on the tunic you had stripped off. Do not fall again into the desires and earthly cares of this world, and in defiance of Christ's bidding come down from the roof of perfection to take back something you had thrust aside at the time of your renunciation.

Be careful not to call to mind your parents and your former affections; if you go back to the cares and anxieties of this world, in the Lord's words: "putting your hand to the plough and then looking back", you will not be worthy of the kingdom of heaven.

Be careful lest the pride which you have trampled underfoot in the ardour of your faith and great humility as you set out, gradually comes to life as you begin to appreciate the psalms and our manner of life - do not think of reviving it; in the words of the Apostle, if you rebuild what you had once destroyed, you become a liar. Rather try to live to the end in that state of nakedness which you have professed before God and his angels.

This humility and patience in which you persevered with many tears, imploring for ten days in front of the door to be allowed into the monastery, should not only stay with you but increase and grow in virtue. It would be a great misfortune if, when you should be going forward from the initial stages and tending towards perfection, you go back to a state worse than the first. It is not the one who has begun, but the one who has persevered to the end who will be saved.


The subtle serpent is always watching our heel, which means he is watching for our departure from this world, and he is trying to trip us up until the end of our life. so it is no good having begun well and taken the first steps in a life of renunciation with great fervour, if you do finish it in the same way, and if you do not keep the humility and poverty of Christ which you have professed in his presence to the end of your life.

To succeed, always watch his head, that is your first thoughts, disclosing them to your elder. In this way you will crush his overtures which can bring about your fall, if you are not ashamed to disclose them all to your elder.


That is why according to the Scripture, once you have promised to serve the Lord, hold fast to the fear of the Lord, and prepare your soul for temptations and difficulties rather than rest, tranquillity and delight. "We must enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations". "It is a narrow gate and rough road which leads to life, and few find it". Consider then that you belong now to the small number of elect, and do not let yourself grow cold by the example and tepidity of most people. On the contrary, live in the same way as these 'few' so that you may merit to be found worthy of the kingdom of God with them. "Many are called but few are chosen", and it is a little flock to which the Father is pleased to give an inheritance. Do not think that it is a light matter if, after having promised perfection, you follow what is imperfect.

Ascent towards charity


We come to this state of perfection by these steps in the following order:


The beginning of our salvation and its safeguard is, as I have said, the fear of God. In this way, those who have set out on the way of perfection attain the beginning of their conversion, purification from their vices and protection in virtue.

When this fear has penetrated the spirit, it brings a contempt of everything, forgetfulness of one's family and a horror of this world; through the contempt and loss of all one's possessions we gain humility.

Humility is recognised by these signs:

1. If we put to death our self-will

2. If we conceal nothing from our elder, not only our actions, but our thoughts.

3. If we do not rely on our own discernment, but seek the elder's judgment in everything and listen eagerly and willingly to his advice.

4. If we are obedient in all circumstances, and remain gentle, calm and patient.

5. If we not only do no wrong to others, but also endure wrongs inflicted upon us without being upset.

6. If we do not dare to do anything except what the common rule and the example of the elders recommends.

7. If we are content with the cheapest goods; and if, in all that we are told to do, we consider ourselves bad and unworthy workmen.

8. If we confess ourselves last of all, not merely with our lips but really believing it in the depths of our hearts.

9. If we are restrained and quiet in speech.

10. If we are not ready and quick to laugh.

By such signs, and others like them true humility can be recognised. When you possess it in truth, it will at once raise you to higher to the love which knows no fear. Then you will begin to accomplish without any trouble what formerly you observed through fear of punishment; no longer now because of punishment, but for love of goodness itself and delight in virtue.

Practical method



So that you may achieve this more easily, look for models of the perfect life in the community to imitate; only very few monks, or better, one or two, not too many. For, apart from the fact that few men have been tried and purified, you will gain more from being instructed and formed by the example of a single person in the perfection you seek in the cenobitic life.



To attain this objective and live always under this spiritual rule, you must observe three things in community, as the psalm says: "I was like a deaf man, I did not listen, I was like a dumb man who cannot open his mouth. I became like a man who cannot hear and does not answer back".

You too must be like a man who is deaf, dumb and blind. Beside the one you have chosen as your model of perfection, you must be blind, not seeing anything which is unedifying for fear that you may be influenced by the motives or example of those who act in this way and so be trapped in evil ways which at first you condemned.

If you hear anyone being disobedient, rebellious or disparaging another or if he tells you to do anything which you have not been taught, do not be led astray or follow such an example to your ruin; but pass by these disorders like a deaf man who hears absolutely nothing.

If someone insults and speaks ill of yourself or another, remain unmoved and rather than answer in retaliation, listen like a dumb man, always singing this verse of the psalmist in your heart: "I said I will watch my ways that I do not sin with my tongue. I put a guard on my tongue when the sinner stood before me, I was dumb and humbled and I kept silence".


Above all observe this fourth thing which adorns the three others which I have told you. Make yourself "a fool in this world" so that you may be wise, as the Apostle says. Do not criticise or argue about anything you have been commanded. Show your obedience in all simplicity and faith, considering only what the law of God or the judgment of the elder tells you to be holy, useful or wise is indeed so.

Then strengthened in such a manner of life, you will always be able to live under this rule and no temptation or deceit of the enemy will make you leave the monastery.



You should not hope to be patient because of the virtue of others, which means that you will only be patient when no one upsets you; whether this is so does not depend upon you. Rather keep patience through your own humility and perseverance which does depend on you own freedom.



Finally, so that all I have said at great length may be engraved in your heart and be stamped on your memory, I will make a short summary so that you can memorise all that I have told you.

Hear in a few words how you can mount up to the heights of perfection without any hardship or difficulty.

"The beginning of our salvation and of wisdom", according to the Scriptures, "is the fear of the Lord". From fear of the Lord comes salutary compunction. From compunction of heart comes renunciation, that is nakedness and contempt for riches. From nakedness comes humility. From humility comes mortification of our will. By mortification of our will all the vices are uprooted and wither away. After driving out the vices, the virtues grow and bud. Through the budding of virtues we acquire purity of heart and through purity of heart we possess the perfection of charity of the Apostles.


Conference 1 - Abba Moses

1. Objective, Goal, Means.


Every art and discipline, said Abba Moses, has its scopos, that is its objective; and its telos, that is its own goal or end. One who longs to practice some art keeps his eye on the goal and willingly and calmly undergoes every labour, danger and loss.

The farmer, for instance, faces both the burning rays of the sun and the frost and ice as he tirelessly cultivates the earth and turns the new furrows with the help of his plough. He pursues his scopos to clear away the brambles and weeds and by hard work to create a fine tilth like sand. He reckons in no other way can he achieve his goal, an abundant harvest and a rich yield so that he can live free from worry or increase his possessions. Again he readily empties the grain from his well-stocked barns and by hard work entrusts the seed to the loosened soil. The thought of the coming harvest makes him unconcerned about his present loss.

Then again merchants have no fear of the hazards of the sea, no dangers terrifies them, the wings of hope carry them on to their goal of profit.

In the same way those who burn with military ambitions look towards the goal of honour and powers which makes them unconcerned with danger and and many deaths in the wanderings. Suffering and wars in the present do not stop them; they long for the goal to which they aspire.

Our profession too has its own scopos and its goal for which we suffer all the hardships on the way, not only without tiring but even with joy. Fasting and hunger do not exhaust us, the weariness of keeping vigil gives us joy; continual reading and meditation of the Scriptures does not pall, even constant toil, destitution (nuditas), and deprivation of everything, even the horrors of this vast solitude do not frighten us away.

I am sure that it was with this goal in mind that you gave up the affections of your family, your native soil, the pleasures of the world; that you travelled through so many countries to seek the company of simple bumpkins like us, lost in the vast stretches of this desert.

So tell me, what is the objective and the goal which makes you put up with all this so willingly?


When he insisted on an answer, we replied that we endured it for the Kingdom of heaven.


That is right as far as the goal is concerned; but what must be our scopos, the objective which we must constantly pursue to attain the goal? You must know this before all else.

When we admitted, in all simplicity, that we did not know, he continued: the first thing is that every art and trade has its scopos, that is its aim or steadfast purpose in the mind; if we do not keep that constantly in sight with eagerness and perseverance, we cannot reach the goal of our desire.

The goal of the farmer, as I have said, is to live tranquilly in abundance, thanks to good harvests. His scopos, that is his objective is to clear his field of brambles and weeds; otherwise he knows he will not obtain the wealth and repose which is his goal, if he does not possess in advance, as it were a foretaste in his toil and expectation, of that which one day he wants enjoy in reality.

The merchant too is not deflected from his desire to acquire goods which will make him rich; it would be useless for him to look for profit if he has not gone about it the right way.

Those who desire worldly honours first take up the jobs or career they need to obtain the dignities they want, and so find the best path to the goal they hope for.

In the same way the goal of our life is the Kingdom of God; but we must consider carefully what is the scopos. If we do not find out, we will wear ourselves out uselessly; travellers on the wrong road get nowhere.

Seeing our surprise, the old man continued: As we have said the goal of our profession is the Kingdom of God. Our objective, that is the scopos, is purity of heart without which it is impossible to attain the goal. Keeping this objective in sight we will follow our course, as though along a straight line. If our thoughts wander a little, we can come back to it and correct our steps by a reliable standard. All our efforts will converge on this one point and it will serve as a warning if we deviate even slightly from the right path.


It is like archers who want to demonstrate their skill before some king of this world. They aim their arrows at small shields on which the prizes are painted. They know well that only if they hit the target will they attain the goal of the coveted prize. They will have it if they manage to hit the scopos.

If by chance the target is hidden from view, even if they look in the right direction they will not notice any deviation as they lack a point of reference to tell them how near was their shot. They will shoot ineffectual arrows into space without any idea why they go astray, unless their faltering eye can show them how to shoot straight.


It is the same for us: the goal of our profession is, according to the Apostle, eternal life; "Holiness is your reward and eternal life your goal". Our scopos or objective is purity of heart which Paul rightly calls holiness and without which we cannot reach the goal. It is as if he had said: "Purity of heart is your scopos and eternal life your goal". Elsewhere the Apostle uses the very word scopos in a most significant way when he says: "Forgetting what is behind and reaching out for what lies ahead, I press on towards the target, to the reward to which the Lord calls me from on high". The Greek is even clearer: "Kata scopon diôkô" , which means I press on towards the objective.

Therefore we must follow with all our might whatever can lead us to the objective of purity of heart, and avoid as dangerous and hurtful anything which hinders us.


Purity of heart will be the one aim of of our actions and desires. For that we must seek solitude, undergo fasts, vigils, work, nakedness of body, reading and the other virtues. In this way we can keep our heart free from all harmful passions and climb step by step to the perfection of charity. If for good reason we have not been able to complete what was asked of us, we must not give way to sadness, anger or indignation, since it was to suppress these vices that we did less than we should. We gain less by fasting than we lose through anger; and our profit from reading in no way equals the harm that comes from contempt for a brother.

Things of secondary importance: fasts, vigils, silence, meditation on Scripture are subordinate to our main scopos (objective) of purity of heart which is charity, and we must not disturb this principal of charity for the sake of these secondary things. If this remains whole and unharmed within us it will never be lost even if we have to omit some lesser observance. It will not help us to fulfil all of them if we lack the principal thing, charity, for the sake of which all else is undertaken.


A worker does his best to get hold of the tools for his craft, not just to have them without using them, nor because their usefulness lies in possessing them, but in order with their help to attain the skill and accomplish the craft for which they are the means. So fasting and vigils, meditation on Scripture, destitution and deprivation of all possessions are not perfection, but the the tools of perfection. They are not themselves the goal of the craft but the means to it. He who concentrates the eyes of his heart on these exercises misunderstands them as if they were the highest good and does not make efforts to reach the goal for which they are undertaken; he has the tools of his craft but does not know their purpose!

So anything which troubles the purity and tranquillity of our heart must be avoided as hurtful, even if it seems useful and necessary. With this rule we can escape the mistakes and digressions and make straight for the goal we desire.

2. Asceticism and Contemplation


To cling always to God and the things of God must be our chief effort and the steadfast purpose of our heart. Any diversion, however impressive, must be regarded as secondary, unimportant and perhaps dangerous.

Cassian gives as an example the biblical passage about Martha and Mary.


You see that the Lord gives theoria as the principal good, that is divine contemplation. It follows that the other virtues, although necessary, useful and good, are put in second place since they are done for the sake of this one necessary thing. When the Lord says: "You are anxious and troubled about many things, but few things are necessary, or only one" he puts the highest good not in activity however praiseworthy and abundantly fruitful, but in contemplation of himself which is indeed simple and one; he shows that few things are necessary for perfect blessedness, by which he means this theoria. First one first reflects on some of the saints; from contemplating them, the one who is making progress goes on with God's help to the one, the sight of God alone. Passing beyond the activities and services of the saints he will feed on the beauty and knowledge of God alone. "Mary therefore chose the the good part which shall not be taken away from her".


We must look at this carefully. When the Lord says: "Mary has chosen the good part", although he does not mention Martha, and does not seem to criticize her in any way, yet in praising the one, he implies that the other is inferior. When he says: "which shall not be taken away from her", he shows that Martha's part can be taken away (for a bodily service cannot last for ever), but Mary's role never ends.


Cassian and Germanus were very moved at the thought that all their asceticism, their good deeds and fraternal charity would not last. Moses however said they would not be taken away, but that they are all done for the sake of charity, and that charity alone remains whereas everything else that which belongs to this life will pass away.

In thinking about contemplation, we move on to the things that hinder it:

3. Distractions.


Germanus - How is it that in spite of ourselves and without our being aware of it, useless thoughts steal upon us in such a subtle and hidden way that it is very hard not only to chase them away but even to realise they are there and take hold of them? Is it possible for the mind ever to be free of them and never suffer such invasions?


Moses - It is indeed impossible for the mind to remain undisturbed by many thoughts, but it is possible for one who tries to accept or reject them. Their origin does not depend entirely on us, but we can choose to approve and welcome them.

Although I said it is impossible for the mind not to give way to these thoughts, but they must not be attributed completely to chance or to spirits which force themselves upon us; otherwise we would have no free will and could not correct ourselves. No, we are able to improve the quality of our thoughts and to let either holy and spiritual or earthly and carnal thoughts stay in our minds.

That is why frequent reading and continual meditation on Scripture are part of prayer so that our memory may be spiritually inclined; singing the psalms brings constant compunction so that the mind is matured, no it longer hankers after earthly things but contemplates heavenly things. If we drop these, the mind, hardened by vices, is soon carried away by the flesh and falls.


This activity of the heart can be compared to millstones which are turned by the falling water. These millstones cannot stop so long as they are driven by the pressure of water. However the miller can decide whether to grind wheat or barley or darnel. They can only grind what is fed by the miller.

In the same way, in this life the mind turns under the flow of unwelcome temptations, it cannot free itself from the torrent of thoughts. But its zeal and diligence take care which can be admitted and cultivated. If, as I said, we constantly meditate on Holy Scripture and remember spiritual things, long for perfection and hope for future blessedness, then surely the thoughts that arise will stay with us. If, on the contrary, through laziness or carelessness, we spend time in useless gossip, if we are caught up in worldly cares and anxieties, then darnel will invade our hearts, and as our Lord and Saviour said, where our treasure, that is our attention, lies, there must our heart be too.

4. Discernment of thoughts


We should know that our thoughts have three sources: God, the devil, and ourselves...


We must keep a close watch on this threefold source of our thoughts, and exercise a wise discernment as they surface in our hearts, considering first their origin, their causes and

author so that we may then decide what action to take. In this way we will become what the Lord calls 'skilled money-changers' who are able to tell pure gold from that which has not been fully tested. Their trained eye can detect a copper coin trying to imitate precious money by a bright golden covering. Not only can they recognise coins bearing the head of usurpers, but they can even spot those which bear the head of the rightful king but are fakes. They test them on scales to see that they are the correct weight.

The gospel shows us by their example that we must observe the same precautions in spiritual matters. Whatever thought creeps in must be most carefully tested...


5. Conclusion: Master-Disciple relationship


The old man saw how astonished and enthusiastic we were. Admiring our longing, he stopped talking for a moment, and then continued: "My sons, it was your zeal which led me to speak for so long, a kind of fire took hold of my thoughts. But to make sure that you thirst for the teaching of perfection, I will say a few words on the excellence and beauty of discretion which is first among all the virtues, and tell of its greatness and value, not only by examples from daily life, but also by the old sayings and opinions of the Fathers.

I remember that often when people asked me with sighs and tears for a talk about it, and I was eager to teach them. But I could not; ideas, even words failed me. I had to send them away without any consolation. By this we can see that the grace of the Lord inspires a speaker according to the merits and desires of those who are listening.





1. Introduction

2. Perfection of heart = Continual prayer - praktike

3. Dispositions for prayer

a Silence

b Comparison with a feather

c What weighs down the soul

d The work of the devil

4. The different kinds of prayer

a Prayer surpasses all manner of classification

b The classification of Paul

c In practice there is no rule.

d The example of the Lord

e Beholding God alone

5. The prayer of the Father

6. The prayer of fire

7. The gift of tears

8. What enables our prayer to be heard

9. The gospel precepts

a enter into our room

b pray with the door closed

c in secret

10. Prayer should be frequent and short.


1. Digression on Theophilus, Serapion and the anthropomorphists

2. The purity of prayer - 2 degrees:

a In the plain = praktike

b On the mountain = theoretike

3. Prayer makes us one.

a it divinises us

b the aim of the solitary is continual prayer

4. How shall we control our thoughts?

5. Melete: "O God, come to my assistance, Lord, make haste to help me!"

6. It will bring us to spiritual poverty

a spiritual hedgehog

b spiritual deer

c the prayer of fire

7. How to avoid distractions: Vigils, meditation, intercessions

8. Conclusion






Institutions 4: 32-35



The introduction shows how difficult it is to enter the life of the monastery (see the plan of the Institutes: ten days of probation). We do not take the decision to enter lightly.

Cassian emphasises the last end, as does Benedict later; heaven or eternal suffering. This influences whether we follow good ways or evil ways. This Jewish theme of the two ways with which the psalter begins recurs all through Jewish-Christian literature.

We commit ourselves to the service of Christ. Benedict calls it fighting under the true King, Christ the Lord.

Setting out for perfection

2 & 3.

To understand 'the gravity of profession', we must turn to the gravity of the cross of Christ.

The renunciation implied by leaving the world in symbolised by the cross, sign of dying to oneself. The cross is a symbol; it must not be taken literally, as did some monks, according to Cassian (Conf. VIII: 3,5,). It is a visible sign of invisible realities, a 'sacramental'. It is the sign of our death to the world. The nails signify 'fear of the Lord'; a loving fear, a fear mingled with love as expressed by these sayings: "the attention of the heart turned towards its destination", "the eyes of the soul fixed upon that place where at every moment we are hoping to go". Here we have the theme of vigilance so dear to the Desert Fathers. This loving fear means that " our will and desires" are no longer fixed upon our own cravings, but on the crucified. The example of the crucified Christ is given as a model of detachment from the world. Underlying all this is the theme of martyrdom with which we dealt in the first chapter.

Though St Benedict speaks little of the cross, it is not difficult to find this approach in the Rule which includes faith, hope and charity.


Now he deals with the requirements for remaining faithful to this renunciation. In this passage the phrase "be careful" occurs three times, underlining the triple renunciation to which one must consent on entering the monastery:

The first is detachment from material possessions; the wealth which is compared to the tunic one takes off (ref. Mt 24:18). Here again, with the word nuditas, there is the underlying theme of spiritual combat (wrestlers fought naked), and of martyrdom.

The second detachment is from possessions of the heart ("remember"=re-corderis=take to heart). There are the words: "cares and anxieties" which remind us of amerimna. Here again is a reference to the Gospel (Lk. 9:62).

The third detachment is from one's own self. Notice that the "the appreciation of the psalms and our manner of life" which is a good thing, can lead to pride which is a bad thing. This reminds us that the Desert Fathers presented pride as the hardest vice to root out, precisely because it can arise from our very progress.

The vow of poverty corresponds to the first detachment, chastity to the second and obedience to the third.

At the end of this paragraph on detachment from oneself there is a phrase summing up all that has been said about the 3 detachments clearly defined as a stripping, a "nakedness", a theme we have met before. "Which you have professed before God and his angels" is taken up by St Benedict (Ch 58:17-18). Monastic profession is therefore a stripping for combat.

Then follows a paragraph insisting on humility, as would Benedict, and which also underlines the need for constant advance, otherwise one "falls back into a worse state". This idea will be taken up by Bernard who says: "One who does not go forward slides back".


The same idea is followed here. Note that one makes profession "of the humility and poverty of Christ". The same idea: profession = stripping.

At the beginning of each paragraph the serpent is mentioned, in reference to Gen.3:15: "he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heal". The head of the serpent signifies thoughts, which must be disclosed to the abba. Here we have the teaching of the Desert Fathers: revealing what is in one's heart assures victory over thoughts, which St Benedict also teaches.


The conclusion of the first part is this: we prepare our souls for temptations and trials, and strive for perfection.

We find these ideas in many places in the Rule: "Narrow is the way which leads to life" (5:11). "Let us prepare our bodies and souls for the struggle"(Prologue); "Let him be told all the hardships and difficulties on the road which leads to God" (Ch.58), and Ch.7, the fourth degree.

Ascent towards charity


The study paper 4 deals with this chapter, and the explanations will be found on p. 39 and TABLE 13, p.38.

Here we need only add a few words on the last paragraph. It is found almost word for word in the Rule. It is interesting to study the parallel texts in Latin of Cassian and Benedict. There is a significant change: "love of goodness" becomes "love of Christ", a mark of the Christ-centred spirituality of Benedict.


Now Cassian gives us a practical method for our journey towards perfection: to be blind, deaf and dumb, and he adds: an obedience full of "simplicity and faith".

Cassian is very realistic, experience has taught him that a community is not perfect: "few men have been purified". That is why he recommends a young person to be guided by the example of one or two (in practice the novice master and abbot). This too is very close to the spirituality of the desert. There will be a different emphasis when we come to study Basil and Augustine.


The fourth point is obedience "in all simplicity and faith", which assumes no murmuring. The last paragraph of 10 assures us that our perseverance depends on this.

11: shows the importance of our freedom in the quest for virtue.



Conference 1 - Abba Moses


1. Goal, Objective, Means.


In the first part, Cassian makes a clear distinction between the goal and the objective, giving three examples: the farmer, the merchant and the soldier, in which at first sight, objective and goal seem to be confused. Then he clarifies that the goal, the "Kingdom of God" is to be distinguished from the objective (scopos) which consists in a "steadfast purpose in the soul" that is purity of heart.


Then he distinguishes the means, the "secondary things" which help us to attain this objective. These secondary things are subordinate to our objective - purity of heart, which is charity. Thus asceticism must not be sought for its own sake, but as a means to attain charity.

Asceticism and contemplation


By the example of Martha and Mary Cassian enlarges upon this point, proving that asceticism is subordinate to contemplation, the "better part".

In no. 9, as a good disciple of Evagrius, Cassian distinguishes two kinds of contemplation: one where the intellect is active and uses ideas in order to pray: "one reflects on some of the saints"; and the other consists in "the sight of God alone", a contemplation without ideas, a simple and loving gaze upon God.

In no.10, he maintains, obviously, that asceticism is necessary; through it we can attain to contemplation, just as it is thanks to the activity of Martha that Mary can contemplate. Asceticism is only exercised in this life, while contemplation "never ends".



At the request of Germanus, abba Moses begins by giving a general principle: the origin of distractions do not come from ourselves, but what does depend on us is whether we accept or reject them.

However we must not be too hasty in saying that they do not depend on us. For we are free and must make an effort not to allow them to become settled in our memory too quickly. Here we find the role of lectio divina which is to feed to the mind so that distractions cannot enter too easily. The purpose of asceticism and prayer is also to direct our soul towards God.

Then Cassian gives the example of millstones which are constantly turning, kept in motion by the force of the water; but one can feed them with either good grain or bad.

Discernment of thoughts


Thus it is important to know how to discern one's thoughts. Here too we have an echo of the teaching of the Desert Fathers; the abba must form the younger man in discernment of thoughts. They can have three causes and we must know how to distinguish between them.

To become "skilled money-changers" according to the "precept of the Lord", is an allusion to what are called 'logia agrapha' (unwritten words), that is sayings of the Lord which are not in the Gospels, but are found in other sources. For example, the Acts of the Apostles gives us one: "There is more happiness in giving than in receiving" (20:35). That of "skilled money-changers" has been preserved for us by Clement of Alexandria; it passed to Origen and then to Cassian. It is very probably true.







1) Why is Cassian's life so interesting?

Both because of the place in which he was born (at the frontier between the Greek and Latin worlds) and by the circumstances of his life: he lived the cenobitic life and as a hermit, he was a disciple of Evagrius, he had contact with four great patriarchs of the Church of that time, and he was a diplomat; in this way he acquired unusual human experience in many fields.


2) What are Cassian's principal writings? What do these titles mean?

* The Cenobitic Institutes, which describe the manner of life of cenobites.

* The Collations, which means 'collections', or Conferences, meaning 'to bring together', hence 'Interviews'.


3) Cassian set out the development of the spiritual life in a schematic way. What comes first? Where does this lead us? At what stage do we find humility?

Cassian places the 'fear of God' first; and he always works towards charity as the final goal. Humility comes half-way; it is the fruit of the fear of God and renunciation. For St Benedict humility is the principal virtue which embraces the whole of the ascetic endeavour.


4) What difference does Cassian make between the objective and the goal?

The goal is our final destiny, the life of blessedness.

The objective, 'scopos', is the direction in which we must look and what we must aim for in order to arrive at 'purity of heart' which leads to the perfection of charity.


5) What attitude does he recommend towards distractions?

Distractions initially do not depend on us, what does on us is whether we welcome them or not. What also depends on us is whether we give them free rein by letting our minds wander. To lessen distractions, we should fill our memory with reading, meditation on Scripture, and singing the psalms.


6) In text 9, p37 the two stages of contemplation of Evagrius are found again, are they not?

Yes, here are the two stages of Evagrius: the active ('phusike'): " one listens to holy people"; and 'theoria': "one rises up to the One", looking at God alone._






In chapter 7 of the discourse of Pinufius, you will have recognized the source of chapter 7 in the Rule of St Benedict: the degrees of humility.

Try to make a table with three parallel columns; in the first write this text of Cassian, in the second, the degrees of humility from the Rule. In the third column put the third ladder which Cassian gives as a summary at the end of the discourse of Pinufius, text 12. Then link up the different degrees by arrows. Some interesting conclusions can be drawn from this.

For example, notice where humility comes in each of the three columns. Where does one start from, and where does one go to? There are ten degrees in Cassian and twelve in Benedict. Why is this? There are differences in the order of degrees. Why is this?

See TABLE 13. It can be photocopied and the corresponding terms in each of the three columns connected by arrows in different colours.

Cassian makes the fear of the Lord the starting point. It is this which marks the first step of detachment from possessions, corresponding to entrance into the novitiate. Humility is the third step; one is then being formed in the cenobitic life. In this way renunciation and humility are bound together. It is the same movement of abasement in two stages; the first leads to the second.

Humility is the fruit of outward renunciation: in itself it is an interior renunciation. These are the first two renunciations which Cassian presents in Conference 3 (6-10). Humility normally opens out into charity; it is the very door to charity.

In the second schema, Pinufius introduces and develops 4 steps between humility and charity:

Humility Ŝ mortification of the will Ŝ overcoming vices Ŝ acquisition of virtues Ŝ purity of heart Ŝ charity.

As in Evagrius, purity of heart is the crown of praktike and brings us to charity.

Whereas in Cassian humility is one of the main steps on the way to charity; for Benedict the ladder of humility encompasses the whole of asceticism. The importance which he gives it means that it cannot be only a connecting link.

Perhaps the importance given to humility by Benedict comes from meditation on the Scriptures: "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled" - "Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart" - "and many other texts: The self-abasement of Christ is found everywhere in the Gospel and also in Paul.

So too in the Rule humility has a central place because it is in imitation of Christ who humbled himself. Thus the supreme place given to humility in Benedict comes from a spirituality centred on Christ.

In support of this, we can see that the degrees on the ladder of humility as presented by Cassian are rather indications by which humility can be recognised. They refer to an overall picture of deeds and attitudes in relation to our neighbour.

Benedict's view is a more God-centred; it is remembrance of the commandments of the Lord and the thought of God beholding us that motivates the first degree. In the second and third degrees, he mentions the imitation of the Lord. In the fourth, one bears suffering for the Lord. It is the same in the fifth and sixth, God is mentioned in the scriptural quotations.

Moreover other observations can be made:

In Benedict, nuditas, renunciation, does not appear in the ladder. It comes later in chapter 33 of the Rule.

The degrees 2 & 3 in Pinufius concerning formation of the young by an abba, which, as we have seen, was characteristic among the Desert Fathers, only comes in one degree in Benedict (5).

On the other hand, the single degree that Cassian the anchorite devotes to silence (9), is divided by St Benedict (9-11) who is writing a rule for cenobites where there is greater opportunity for breaches of silence.




Cassian 1


Cassian 2

1 Fear of the Lord
through which:
purification of vices
practice of virtues
penetrate the spirit


1. Fear of the Lord


= entrance into noviciate Detachment from possessions
Detachment from affections
= Presence of God
= vices overcome
2. compunction of heart
3 HUMILITY = Cenobitic life
Detachment from self
2 Detachment from self-will 3. Renunciation
1 Mortif. self-will 3 Obey without murmuring 4 HUMILITY
2 Hide nothing from abba 4 Accept injuries patiently 5 Willing mortification
3 Follow abba's judgment 5 Hide nothing from abbot 6 Reject vices
4 Obey without rancour
with patience
6 Content with least
as a poor workman
7 Growth of virtue
5 Accept injuries 7 Consider oneself last of all 8 PURITY OF HEART
6 Obey the common rule 8 Obey the common rule  
7 Content with least
as a poor workman
9 Keep silence  
8 Declare onself last of all 10 Not much laughter  
9 Silence - few words 11 Few words  
10 Not laughing easily 12 Humble attitude