Again, Germanus and Cassian take up their discussion with Abba John about the end of the life of a cenobite and of the hermit. Both have been deeply humbled as their understanding of the necessity and importance of long formation in the cenobia for developing the capacity of pursuing the anchoritic life. Only by having lived in community and having crucified the ego and one's passions can one possibly pursue the life of greater solitude and contemplation. For it is in the deeper silence of the the anchoritic life that the once hidden passions will again emerge. In fact, some people become so savage due to the unbroken silence of the desert simply because they sought it in pride or prematurely. If one goes off to the desert with vices not yet attended to, only their effects will be repressed but the dispositions to them will not be extinguished.
A great deal of discussion focused on the applying the wisdom of the desert to the life of one seeking holiness while living in the world. Simplicity of life and clarity about the essential pursuit of purity of heart as well as emotional maturity were discussed at length in regard to how they apply to the married state, consecrated single life and the life of the secular clergy. One must cultivate a sensitive conscience through frequent examination and humble repentance. Prayer must be fostered not as a good activity but as the very source of life and holiness. Christians must once again foster a culture that is truly shaped by the gospel. They must also be attentive to the ways the Divine Physician provides for healing when spiritual guides our lacking.
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