Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cassian on Free Will

"Between these two desires [the flesh and the spirit], then, the free will of the soul occupies a somewhat blameworthy middle position and neither delights in the disgrace of vice nor agrees to the hardships of virtue. It seeks to refrain from fleshly passions in such a way that it would by no means wish to endure those necessary sorrows without which the desires of the spirit cannot be laid hold of--hoping to obtain bodily chastity without disciplining the flesh, to acquire purity of heart without the exertion of vigils, to abound in the spiritual virtues while enjoying fleshly repose, to possess the grace of patience without the aggravation of any contrariness, to practice the humility of Christ without jettisoning worldly honors, to pursue religious simplicity along with secular ambition, to serve Christ to the accompaniment of human praise and acclamation, to be strictly truthful without the least offense to anyone. Finally, it prefers to pursue future goods in such a way as not to lose present ones....
"While this salutary conflict is stirred up within us every day to our benefit, we are driven to...acquire purity of heart not at leisure or at ease but with constant toil and a contrite spirit."

St. John Cassian--Conference IV.12: On the Flesh and the Spirit

1 comment:

Jorge Sanchez said...

When I was at the Monastery last week, I was struck that the short reading at Compline was from the Institutes, as I'd only ever heard Scriptural readings at Compline. I found the reading that night particularly affecting.

Cassian is powerful; thank you for sharing.

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If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.


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