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Selected quotes from St. John Cassian

"A worker takes the trouble to get hold of the instruments that he requires. He does so not simply to have them and not use them. Nor is there any profit for him in merely possessing the instruments. What he wants is, with their help, to produce the crafted objective for which these are the efficient means. In the same way, fasting, vigils, scriptural meditation, nakedness, and total deprivation do not constitute perfection but are the means to perfection. They are not themselves the end point of a discipline, but an end is attained through them. To practice them will therefore be useless if someone instead of regarding these as means to an end is satisfied to regard them as the highest good. One would possess the instruments of a profession without knowing the end where the hoped-for fruit is to be found."

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"Therefore, there is no other way of attaining to spiritual knowledge except by following this order, which one of the prophets has neatly expressed: 'Sow for yourselves unto righteousness; reap the hope of life; enlighten yourselves with the light of knowledge' (Hosea 10:12). First, then, we sow for ourselves unto righteousness - that is, we must increase practical perfection by works of righteousness. Then we must reap the hope of life - that is, we must gather the fruit of spiritual virtues by expelling our carnal vices. Thus we shall be able to enlighten ourselves with the light of knowledge."

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"The mind of the righteous man, then, must not be like wax or some other soft material, which always gets its form and shape from the mark that is stamped on it and that remains there until it receives the impression of another mark. Thus it never keeps its own character and always takes on the form of whatever is stamped on it. On the contrary, our mind must be like a kind of adamant seal, so that it always retains its own character inviolable and shapes and transforms whatever happens to it into its own likeness, without, however, being stamped itself by the things that happen to it."