Prologue Search

1. Our Holy Father John Casein.

This great spiritual guide was born in Rome of eminent parents. In his youth he studied the secular disciplines, especially philosophy and astronomy. After that, he gave himself entirely to the study of Holy Scripture. He moved from the good to the better, and, desiring higher and higher steps to perfection, Casein left Rome for the East, to learn more and attain this greater perfection. He went to Bethlehem, then lingered in Egypt, at Nitric, among outstanding spiritual athletes from whom he learned to exercise himself in all the virtues. In Constantinople, he became a pupil of St John Chrysostom and was ordained by him to the diaconate. He finally returned to the West and settled near Marseilles, there founding two monasteries, one for monks and one for nuns. At the request of the monks, Cassian wrote many books, among which the ones on the lovers of the spiritual life are especially helpful: 'Eight books on the struggle against the eight chief passions' (The Institutes). His book against the Nestorian heresy (On the Incarnation of the Lord), which he wrote at the request of Archdeacon (later Pope) Leo, is very important. He served the Lord faithfully and enriched many by his wisdom, then entered into eternal rest in 435. St Cassian's relics are preserved to this day in Marseilles.

2. Our Holy Father Barsanuphius.

Born a pagan in Palestine, he was baptised at the age of eighteen and immediately became a monk, receiving the name John. When his virtuous life became known, he was chosen as Archbishop of Damascus, but did not stay long in that position. Yearning after a solitary spiritual asceticism, he secretly left Damascus and went to the desert of Nitria. There he presented himself as the monk Barsanuphius, and was immediately given the obedience of water-carrier to the monastery. The one-time archbishop joyfully received this obedience. By his learned discourses, his meekness and his zeal, he quickly became a model example to all the monks. Only at the time of his death was it revealed to the monks who Barsanuphius was. And so this saint used his own example as a lesson to the proud and to lovers of power, and as a comfort to the humble and meek. He entered peacefully into rest and went to the Lord in the year 457.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK