Thursday Apr 16, 2015
Conferences of St. John Cassian - Conference Eleven on Perfection Part II and Conference Twelve Intro.
Cassian and Germanus came to the end of their conference with Abba Chaeremon on Perfection discussing the various ranks of perfection that depend on an individual's virtue, will and ardor. We are challenged by God to go from the heights to sill higher places, driven by love. The greatest perfection is to share in the sonship of Christ; to be motivated by love in all things. The only fear we are to have is the fear that is a part of the nature and disposition of love itself - a fear of not doing the will of God or of losing a life a virtue through negligence. We must be preoccupied with a concerned devotion not only in every action but also in every word, lest our ardor become to the slightest extent lukewarm.
From this, we moved on to consider the distinct connection between perfection and chastity which is the subject of Conference Twelve. Chastity, an inner tranquillity and peace and freedom from impurity is a means to an end for Cassian; a means to love with the perfection and purity of heart he has described. It is possible to eradicate impurity through ascetical practices strengthened by the grace of God. There is a difference between abstinence and chastity. With abstinence there can be a gnawing longing for the thing struggled against; whereas with chastity there is a love of purity for its own sake that penetrates into the unconscious and touches even the involuntary movements of the flesh.
Discussion then ensued regarding the profound depth psychology of the desert fathers and how this differs from modern, secular psychological thought and practice as a means of healing.
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