Oct 16th, 2014 by philokalia
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Seven on the Changeableness of the Soul and on Evil Spirits Part IV
Oct 13th, 2014 by philokalia
The group considered the closing sections of Conference Seven with Abba Serenus. The Divine Physician often will allow demons to afflict souls for the purposes of correction and at times that affliction will be severe; especially among the holy ones whose sin might seem slight in the eyes of the world but yet prevents the spiritual perfection to which God calls them. Serenus reminds Cassian and Germanus of the importance of praying ceaselessly for those who are afflicted and of encouraging frequent Communion as a means of spiritual healing.
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Seven on the Changeableness of the Soul and on Evil Spirits Part III
Oct 2nd, 2014 by philokalia
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Seven on the Changeableness of the Soul and on Evil Spirits Part II
Sep 27th, 2014 by philokalia
Germanus and Cassian continue to engage the elder Serenus about the action of evil spirits. Serenus with great patience and eloquence shows them that evil spirits only have the power to incite and that we as human beings remain capable of either rejecting or accepting their suggestions. We either choose to be deceived or fail quickly to oppose them. So called "possession" is only due to the weakening of the body that comes from the acceptance and embrace of sin; much akin to the effects of wine or fever on the human person. God alone is incorporeal and has access to the deepest part of our soul. Evil spirits, however, discern from bodily gestures and from perceptible movements whether temptation or suggestion has taken hold of the heart: for example, when a person has been silent, or sighing with a certain indignation, or his face pale or blush and thus they have a subtle knowledge of who is given to what vice.
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Seven on the Changeableness of the Soul and on Evil Spirits
Sep 18th, 2014 by philokalia
Cassian and Germanus seek out the guidance of the elder Serenus, whose name captures his character. Serenus had attained great purity of heart, peace, and freedom from the carnal desires of the flesh. Cassian and Germanus come to him in a state of despair; for although having labored for years they found their thoughts wandering and pulling them back to the things of the world and the passions. In their desolation they had begun to give up any hope of attaining such virtue and complain to Serenus that it is their nature that has prevented stability of mind and heart. Serenus in both his teaching and example is becomes the cypher though which we are meant to come to understand both the path to and nature of purity of heart. It is desire and thirst for God alone that can bring us to this freedom. Faith, Hope and Love are the weapons we use to engage in the battle (the theological virtues that have God as their end) and the depths of the heart is purified by the sharp sword of the Spirit. Once again the discussion was thoughtful and enriching and Cassian’s insights immeasurably valuable.
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Six on the Slaughter of Some Holy Men Part IV and On Evil Spirits Part I
Sep 4th, 2014 by philokalia
Aug 28th, 2014 by philokalia
We continue to make our way through Cassian's analysis of the spiritual life and its trials. As we approach the end of the Sixth Conference, Cassian makes it clear that there is no unchanging state in the spiritual life. We are either seeking God and growing in virtue (driven by desire) or we are being drawn deeper into the life of sin. Love of God, desire for the Beloved, must draw us on through the life of grace. With an intensity of mind, we must pursue what lies ahead and not let ourselves be molded and shaped by the things of the world. We must be held by God and shaped in accord with His wisdom and will.
Aug 21st, 2014 by philokalia
The group continued its discussion of the sixth conference following the elder’s teaching on the necessity of trials in the spiritual life as a means of purification from sin. One must seek to trust in the wisdom of God as he finds himself afflicted for the sake of correction or to burn away the dross. At times one will undergo trials for the sake of the glory of God, to manifest the power of his grace through his endurance. In the most challenging section of the conference, the elder tells Cassian and Germanus that there are those so hardened in their sin that they are beyond the remedy of chastisement and who must be abandoned to the darkness of the sin and the full consequence of the loss of communion with God. Having failed to respond to God’s remedy, they must be abandoned to the desolation of their choosing with the hope that its emptiness will stir them at last to conversion or simply be a warning to others.
Aug 15th, 2014 by philokalia
The group continued this week following Cassian’s discussion with the elder Theodore about the ability to be “ambidextrous” in the spiritual life; that is, the importance of being able to remain at peace in the face of prosperity or adversity. Our chief desire should be to avoid sin and to trust that God, in his providence, can make all things work for the good of those who love and obey Him. A lengthy discussion ensued about how such an understanding of things changes our approach to life and what we value. The group also discussed the experience of suffering in relation to Cassian’s teaching.
Aug 7th, 2014 by philokalia
Tonight we began reading Conference 6 on the Slaughter of Holy Men where Cassian introduces us to the meaning of suffering and affliction. It is by no means an easy journey. Cassian slowly constructs a foundation upon which we can build. The only real good is virtue and the only evil is vice and separation from God. This is the frame, perhaps unfamiliar and uncomfortable to the modern mind and sensibilities, within which we are to shape our understanding of life. Ultimately affliction is only understood in light of Christ’s immersion in the affliction of our sin and entering into the depths of the hell that it places a soul. He enters into the depths through love in order that we might rise to the heights through love. We meet most intimately and powerfully in that place of affliction – the Cross. It is these realities that we will be unpacking in the weeks to come.