Abba Abraham continues to engage Germanus and Cassian about their desire to return home to be near their relatives. He warns them that the promise of being taken care of by others will draw them away from the particular hardship and asceticism necessary to live the life of true solitude and to remain focused upon God alone. Freedom to study and pray unimpeded is not the extent of the solitary life. It is also not to be drawn into the affairs of others, good or bad, but rather to remain within one's cell and to limit one's thoughts to God. Acedia, or a kind of listlessness will draw them out from the solitude especially when the environment and the freedom to engage others are there as a temptation. The Egyptian monks have already built up a strong constitution in avoiding this vice and the pathless environment of the desert makes it unattractive to relatives and the curious alike. One must learn to trust solely in the providence of God to provide for their needs and to satisfy the desires of their hearts. Having chosen the solitary life the must see themselves as dead to the world and to all but God.
We now enter into the final Conference with Cassian and Germanus as they speak with Abba Abraham. The name proves apropos given the fact that his task will be to reinculcate in his two charges the spirit that motivated the great Patriarch to heed God's command "Leave your country, your family and your father's house for the land I will show you." Cassian and Germanus were longing for home; hoping their relatives would provide them with the means to support themselves in a life of solitude, prayer and study. Pridefully they also believe that they will be able to convert these same relatives if they are more present to them. Abba Abraham works swiftly to dismantle the obvious self deception implicit in their plan and rather bluntly accuses them of slothfulness.
After a brief hiatus, the group came to the end of Conference 23. Once again we found ourselves grappling, along with Cassian and Germanus, with the fact that despite the holiness and perfection that one may reach, our weakness and sin draws us away from living in a constant state of communion with God. Created to live in a constant state of receptivity our sin leads to a flighty wandering of the mind and a turning away from God in a multitude of ways - even during the time of prayer.