May 8

Between the two desires of the flesh and the spirit, the will of the soul stands in the middle position, not free from blame, nor delighted with the wickedness of sin, nor finding content in the pains of virtue. It seeks relief from fleshly passions, but only on the condition of not bearing the consequent pains without which it is impossible to possess what the spirit longs for. It would obtain chastity of body without punishment of the flesh, purity of heart without the toil of watchings, it would abound in spiritual virtues and yet retain fleshly ease, it would possess the grace of patience with no irksomeness of contention, practice the humility of Christ, but with no loss of worldly honor; combine the simplicity of the religious life with the following of secular ambition. It desires to serve Christ to the accompaniment of praise and the favor of men; to profess the narrow way of truth without even the least offense to anyone, in a word, its aim is so to pursue the award to come, as not to lose that which is here and now.

Such a will can never bring us on to reach true perfection,…for when yielding up our wills to this condition, we are ready to allow ourselves to fall away little by little to such remissness, at once the urging of impulses of the flesh rise up, and wounding us with their vices and passions, they refuse altogether to allow us to remain in that state of purity wherein we delight, but drag us along that cold and thorny path of pleasure which we dread.

~St John Cassian (Conference with Abbot Daniel)



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