I have been reading and rereading the 59 pages of "Saint John Cassian on Prayer," translated by A.M. Casiday.
I take the book with me when I work out. My wife and I try to get some exercise at LA Fitness a few times a week in the evening (LA Fitness is a chain of sports clubs). We walk on the treadmills and I also use a few pieces of exercise equipment. I always have to move the pin that controls how much weight is being lifted from something like 200 lbs to something more my level — usually 30 to 40 lbs.
I walk slowly on the treadmill and it allows me to read while walking. The Cassian book is small, it’s paperback and only 59 pages, so it is easy to hold in one hand while I am trying not to fall off the treadmill.
After exercising, we spend some time in the sauna and the Cassian book goes right on in there with me. Other small books I have taken into the sauna have had glue binding. And yes, after a good hot sauna, the pages of those books begin to separate and come loose. But the Cassian book is stapled with two fine staples. It seems to thrive in the dry heat. So, with Saint John Cassian on Prayer and the sauna it does not take too much imagination for me to think that I am in the Egyptian desert in 400 AD and listening to Abba Isaac teach on prayer.
If you only know one thing about St. John Cassian (360-435 AD) — it should be that John Cassian’s accounts and interpretations were important in the “transmission of the culture of Egyptian monasticism into the early medieval west.”