The group considered the final paragraphs of Conference Six; reflecting in particular on the effects of diligence and negligence on the spiritual life. Cassian’s elder reminds him and us that we should call no person blessed until after his or her death. Virtue acquired by the grace of God and asceticism must be preserved with the same concern and effort with which it was obtained. Spiritual carelessness is like a leaky roof through which there are tiny leaks of passion that penetrate the soul. Left unattended they weaken the structure of the virtues and afterward they pour in a heavy shower of sinfulness.
As we began the introductory material of Conference Seven on Demons we considered the modern tendency to psychologize spiritual afflictions, labeling them as such, and how this weakens the soul. It often leads one to excuse oneself (ex causa); that is, free themselves from the charge of the spiritual warfare that is necessary and from the desire and the intensity of mind that would lead them otherwise to reach out for God and His help. Cassian reminds us that the demons’ knowledge of the secrets of the mind is not infallible; it is instead a clever deduction from our observable behaviors.
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