February 29

From the Prologue

Barsanuphius was born a pagan in Palestine and was baptized in his eighteenth year and immediately was tonsured a monk taking the name of John. When he became known for of his virtuous life, Barsanuphius was elected archbishop of Damascus. He did not remain long at this position. Yearning for the reclusive, ascetically spiritual life, he secretly left Damascus and went to the wilderness of Nitria. Here, he presented himself as the monk Barsanuphius and immediately, was assigned, as an obedience, to be a water-carrier for the monastery. The former archbishop accepts this obedience with joy. With his wise reflections, meekness and diligence, Barsanuphius soon became a model example to all the monks. Only before his death was it revealed to the monks who this Barsanuphius was. Thus this saint, by his example, served as a reproach to the proud and power-loving and as a comfort to the humble and meek. He died peacefully and took up habitation with the Lord in the year 457 A.D.



Cassian numbered eight terrible passions

And still the ninth - impure thoughts.

In food and drink, Gluttony the first,

To the spirit and body, Promiscuity the second,

Avarice, shackles which tie one to the metal,

Anger, of man's heart the frost which freezes and constricts.

Melancholy, which erodes the soul; the insatiable worm,

Slothfulness, drowsiness to a soul, which spins [weaves] death,

Vanity, a serpent; a many headed serpent,

It is everywhere and nowhere, the grass conceals it,

Pride, a double-edged sword that cuts and hems,

Both the young and old mercilessly destroys,

And the ones vigorous, and arrogant [proud] because of strength,

And the spiritual elders, to themselves, dear.

Of all these passions, our defense God is

By the prayers of the holy Saint Cassian.

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