Cassian and Germanus move deeper into the Egyptian desert in search of a larger and more perfect group of holy men. The meet Abba Piamun, the elder and priest of all the anchorites living a more solitary life there under his guidance. Before speaking to them about the various kinds of monastic life, Piamun discusses the necessary dispositions that would make a journey such as their's fruitful. There had been many before Cassian and Germanus who simply came to Egypt to satisfy their curiosity but lacking the necessary desire to embrace the teachings of the elders and to imitate their lives. They must approach the spiritual life as anyone seeks to acquire a skill in some art; they must give themselves over to the pursuit fully. They must seek to imitate fully and faithfully the elders rather than simply to discuss or analyze everything that they see or hear. In other words, they must not cling to or trust their own judgment for they will only come to the point where even things which are very beneficial or salutary will seem useless or harmful to them. Letting go of all obstinacy they must seek to become docile and allow the truth to emerge through their experience over time.
How different this is from the modern Christian. Often we want to be convinced of the truth or experience the fruits of faith and religious discipline while eluding the necessary obedience and docility. We want to be sold on why we should want to embrace the ascetic life rather than humbly seeking the counsel and guidance of others.
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