Europe shivers thanks to a weather front which has been nicknamed the Beast from the East. The cold has even reached us here at Sleepy Towers in central Bucharest. I've had to shut my kitchen window for the first time since I arrived in August.
I thought it was time to mention to my reader a Feast from the East. For Eastern Christianity tomorrow (this being a non-leap year) is the feast of St John Cassian (or Sfântul Cuvios Ioan Casian Românul as they call him here): he is a local boy who went West and his influence on Western Christianity is immense. His writings influenced St Benedict, St Philip Neri and Bl John Henry Newman, to name a few. His Conferences are my constant companion out here. They are ever fresh with insight into the human condition and our "battles" with God, and we do fight God so much, whoever said grace was irresistible didn't have a clue. St John Cassian understands people because he loves them because he loves God. It is all very simple and his writings have a simplicity and logic that later writers writing about the care of our bodies and souls can sometimes lack. Don't expect to be taken to any great mystical heights in his writings, I suffer from vertigo and I simply don't like that style of writing. God is to be found in the ordinary, gravity bound, everyday world of working-for-a-living and bashing demons.
He is a great gift from the East to the West.
Pertinent to today's sorry situation in the Church, it is worth remembering that though the West considers him a saint, he was never quite free of the taint of heresy (something the Orthodox do not accuse him of). I am increasingly frustrated with the Catholic chattering classes accusing such and such a person of heresy as if burning at the stake were too good for them. You can be a saint and never lose the stain of associated heresy......
The old Patristic works (and Cassian's writings are very old) are ever fresh. That is because they are holy. "Behold I make all things new" is a mark of holiness, because it is mark of Christ himself. This is something the our current band of polyester Revolutionaries and wannabe paradigm-shifters in the Church don't get. They are hooked on freshness like salesmen for a new brand of washing powder. But they associate freshness with what is current, rather than finding it in what is old and what is timeless. And all because they are hooked on the notions of progress, evolution and a linear expression of time that simply aren't born out by Tradition, Holy Scripture or Modern Science.
St John Cassian, pray for us.