John Cassian: born Scythia Minor 360, died Marseilles 435
Author of The Institutes and The Conferences of the Fathers
In Conferences IX and X on Prayer, Cassian transmits the wisdom of the Christian Desert on prayer. It was in the Tenth Conference that John Main recognised the Christian tradition of meditation which became the foundation of his major work. The complete Conferences of Cassian may be accessed here.
It was with a very wonderful astonishment that I read, in his Tenth Conference, of the practice of using a single short phrase to achieve the stillness necessary for prayer:
“The mind thus casts out and renounces the rich and ample matter of all thoughts and restricts itself to the poverty of a single verse”
In reading the words and in Chapter X of the same Conference on the method of continual prayer, I was arrived home once more and returned to the practice of the mantra. (John Main, The Gethsemani Talks, Medio Media 2007)