Philokalia Ministries

Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Eighteen On the Kinds of Monks Part II

December 17, 2015

We continue to listen with Cassian and Germanus to Abba Piamun discuss the kind of monks - Cenobites, Anchorites, Sarbaites and a fourth category of monk who briefly enters the cenobitic life only to rapidly leaves the confines of communal discipline and obedience to an elder for a premature embrace of the life of seclusion. The distinctions made by Abba Piamun, however, merely serve as a backdrop to a greater discussion the necessary progress and formation that one must embrace before seeking a life a greater hiddenness and contemplation.  The conference is fraught with examples of the dangers of seeking to leap over the fundamental formation of the common life.  To do so, reveals a kind of pride or self-delusion; that one can enter into a higher state without having properly formed the mind and heart in humility and obedience.  

A rather lengthy discussion ensued among the group about the challenges of living in the world according to the wisdom put forward in the conference.  How does one gain or find the benefits of the cenobium while living in the world?  Where is the necessary formative influence of obedience to an elder to be sought?  How does one create a culture where the pursuit of holiness and purity of heart are the fundamental goals while living in the secular world?  

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