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Germanus and Cassian continue their conversation with Abba John who in many ways is unique.  He began his life in the Cenobium, became an anchorite, and then returned to the common life of the Cenobium after many years in solitude.  Abba John experienced the desire and the fruit of the life of deep solitude as an anchorite - intimacy with God and theoria or contemplation.  However, after many years of solitude distractions and concerns began to weigh upon him so much so that he was losing the simplicity of life and freedom that allows for undistracted contemplation.  There was a relaxation, among many of the anchorites, of the simplicity necessary for such a life and an over-concern for carnal realities began to emerge; too much of a focus on bodily comfort and the variety and plentitude of food.  Too much concern was focused on the morrow rather that God in the present moment.  What may seem to be a slight regression in practice to us made an enormous difference for those who were to be seeking God in radical simplicity in order to be free emotionally and spiritually to be raised up to the heights of prayer.  Abba John, therefore, wisely and humbly made the decision to return to the Cenobium where he could live with a greater freedom from such concerns because of the nature and support of the common life as well as live under obedience to a superior and so be conformed to Christ more perfectly.  

Lengthy discussion then ensued regarding how such principles could be applied to contemporary life and the pursuit of holiness in the world.  How do we regain our simplicity and clarity of focus on living the Christian life in a world that thrives on distraction and a busyness that crowds out solitude and prayer?  The loss of a larger Catholic culture and its formative effects has been immeasurable.  Individuals and families live in isolation and find themselves walking in lockstep with those living in and formed by modern worldly sensibilities.  If the family is the domestic Church then should it not possess more in common with the cenobium?  Should not an environment be sought and created that nourishes the faith, the pursuit of holiness and a life of simplicity where prayer can emerge and shape one's existence?
The renewal of Christian culture is something that will likely take place by slowly building that which will endure; not necessarily by appealing to modern sensibilities but living the gospel fully and embracing the love of the Cross. Cassian's writing remains ever relevant because it approaches the human person in relation to God not in a superficial fashion but as the deep mystery in which we must be fully immersed.    
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