Sf-IoanCasianIt is a sure sign of a mind that is cold and proud, if it receives with disdain and carelessness the medicine of the words of salvation, although it be offered with the zeal of excessive persistence. For “a soul that is full jeers at honeycomb; but to a soul that is in want even little things appear sweet” (Prov. 27:7).

And so, if these things have been carefully taken in and stored up in the recesses of the soul and stamped with the seal of silence, afterwards, like some sweet scented wine that makes glad the heart of man, they will, when mellowed by the antiquity of the thoughts and by long-standing patience, be brought forth from the jar of your heart with great fragrance.

And, like some perennial fountain, they will flow abundantly from the veins of experience and irrigating channels of virtue and will pour forth copious streams as if from some deep well in your heart.

For that will happen in your case, which is spoken in Proverbs to one who has achieved this in his work: “Drink waters from your own cisterns and from the fount of your own wells. Let waters from your own fountain flow in abundance for you, but let your waters pass through into your streets” (Prov. 5:15-16).

And according to the prophet Isaiah: “Thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a fountain of water whose waters shall not fail. And the places that have been desolate for ages shall be built in thee; thou shalt raise up the foundations of generation and generation; and thou shalt be called the repairer of the fences, turning the paths into rest” (Isaiah 58:11-12).

And that blessedness shall come upon you which the same prophet promises: “And the Lord will not cause thy teacher to flee away from thee any more, and thine eyes shall see thy teacher. And thine ears shall hear the word of one admonishing thee behind thy back: This is the way, walk ye in it, and go not aside either to the right hand or to the left” (Isaiah 30:20-21).

And so it will come to pass that not only every purpose and thought of your heart, but also all the wanderings and rovings of your imagination will become to you a holy and unceasing pondering of the Divine law.

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 14,13.