Father Cassian is a monk who tries to “listen with the ears of his heart” (RB, Prol). If there was such a thing as a religious personality indicator, it would reveal that he is a man of the heart, with preferences of the pastoral, spiritual, and devotional bent, rather than that of the mind, with its philosophical or intellectual leanings. It would indicate that his preoccupations with the rosary, silent prayer, helping others, and spiritual reading leave little room for his other interests (besides reading about the St. Louis Cardinals), such as philosophy, apologetics, literature, pop culture, or even most of the news. Years of such listening to God with his heart in his private time has turned this once very social extravert into less of a personality and more of a listener, but even a reduced repertoire of knowledge from which to entertain can not remove the personableness and charm from someone who developed it long ago. He’s not an introvert now though, for he is frequently among the last to leave a lunch table or social hour, and his sensitivity to the needs of other people, especially guests, is another characteristic trait of his love for people. It is easy to see how a man of simple interests and playfulness found one of his favorite activities to be teaching Sunday school to Kindergarteners, 1st, 3rd, and 4th graders, which was also a perfect match for his love of the theology of spiritual childhood.
Before he became a “learnedly ignorant” contemplative, to borrow a term from St. Gregory the Great’s description of St. Benedict, he honed his skills of the heart in business psychology at PricewaterhouseCoopers / IBM Consulting, with clients such as NASA and the Department of Health and Human Services. Seeing God work small but respectable achievements through him has motivated him even more to cooperate as best as possible in moving along St. Benedict’s ladder of humility. He hopes that greater acceptance of his nothingness will help him to focus better on 1) other people, allowing God’s grace and special gifts to benefit them more freely, and 2) God, forming a foundation for a self-forgetfulness that will mature, God willing, into contemplative union with the He who is so fascinated with him that He never takes His eyes off of him and is Himself so unutterably superb that He must hide Himself for now.
Father Cassian is currently studying at the Angelicum in Rome, working towards ordination, and is living at Collegio San Anselmo, the Benedictine house of studies in Rome.