Sf-IoanCasianWe must look not only at the thing which is done, but also at the character of the mind and the purpose of the doer.

You must weigh with a careful scrutiny of heart what is done by each man and consider with what mind it is done or from what feeling it proceeds.

[…] Our Lord and Saviour gives us a thorough lesson on the virtue of patience and gentleness, teaching us not only to profess it with our lips, but to store it up in the inmost recesses of the soul.

He offers us this summary of evangelical perfection, saying: “If any one smites thee on thy right cheek, offer him the other also” (Matt. 5:39).

[…] By this He desires entirely to remove all incitement to anger from the deepest recesses of the soul.

If your external right cheek has received a blow from the striker, the inner man also humbly consenting may offer its right cheek to be smitten.

It may submit and subject its own body to wrong from the striker, that the inner man may not even silently be disturbed in itself at the blows of the outward man.

[…] Evangelical perfection…teaches that patience must be maintained, not in words but in inward tranquillity of heart.

It bids us preserve it whatever evil happens, that we may keep ourselves always from disturbing anger.

By submitting to their injuries, we seek to compel those, who are disturbed by their own fault, to become calm…and so overcome their rage by our gentleness.

And so also we shall fulfil these words of the Apostle: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21).

It is quite clear that this cannot be fulfilled by those who utter words of gentleness and humility in such a spirit and rage that they not only fail to lessen the fire of wrath which has been kindled, but, rather, make it blaze up the more fiercely both in their own feelings and in those of their enraged brother.

But these, even if they could in some way keep calm and quiet themselves, would yet not bear any fruits of righteousness, while they claim the glory of patience on their part by their neighbour’s loss.

For this is to be altogether removed from that apostolic love which “Seeks not her own” (1 Cor. 13:5) but the things of others.

For apostolic love does not so desire riches in such a way as to make profit for itself out of one’s neighbour’s loss, nor does it wish to gain anything if it involves the spoiling of another.

John Cassian (c. 360-435): Conferences 16,22.