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The Spiritual Declension of the Soul by Michael Durham
"A believer may pass through much affliction, and yet secure very little blessing from it all. Abiding in Christ is the secret of securing all that the Father meant the chastisement to bring us." -
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: The Conferences Of John Cassian
The Conferences Of John Cassian
The Second Part of the Conferences
XI. The First Conference of Abbot Chæremon.
Chapter I. Description of the town of Thennesus.
Chapter II. Of Bishop Archebius.
Chapter III. Description of the desert where Chæremon, Nesteros, and Joseph lived.
Chapter IV. Of Abbot Chæremon and his excuse about the teaching which we asked for.
Chapter V. Of our answer to his excuse.
Chapter VI. Abbot Chæremon's statement that faults can be overcome in three ways.
Chapter VII. By what steps we can ascend to the heights of love and what permanence there is in it.
Chapter VIII. How greatly those excel who depart from sin through the feeling of love.
Chapter IX. That love not only makes sons out of servants, but also bestows the image and likeness of God.
Chapter X. How it is the perfection of love to pray for one's enemies and by what signs we may recognize a mind that is not yet purified.
Chapter XI. A question why he has called the feeling of fear and hope imperfect.
Chapter XII. The answer on the different kinds of perfection.
Chapter XIII. Of the fear which is the outcome of the greatest love.
Chapter XIV. A question about complete chastity.
Chapter XV. The postponement of the explanation which is asked for.
XII. The Second Conference of Abbot Chæremon.
XIII. The Third Conference of Abbot Chæremon.
Chapter I. Introduction.
Chapter II. A question why the merit of good deeds may not be ascribed to the exertions of the man who does them.
Chapter III. The answer that without God's help not only perfect chastity but all good of every kind cannot be performed.
Chapter IV. An objection, asking how the Gentiles can be said to have chastity without the grace of God.
Chapter V. The answer on the imaginary chastity of the philosophers.
Chapter VI. That without the grace of God we cannot make any diligent efforts.
Chapter VII. Of the main purpose of God and His daily Providence.
Chapter VIII. Of the grace of God and the freedom of the will.
Chapter IX. Of the power of our good will, and the grace of God.
Chapter X. On the weakness of free will.
Chapter XI. Whether the grace of God precedes or follows our good will.
Chapter XII. That a good will should not always be attributed to grace, nor always to man himself.
Chapter XIII. How human efforts cannot be set against the grace of God.
Chapter XIV. How God makes trial of the strength of man's will by means of his temptations.
Chapter XV. Of the manifold grace of men's calls.
Chapter XVI. Of the grace of God; to the effect that it transcends the narrow limits of human faith.
Chapter XVII. Of the inscrutable providence of God.
Chapter XVIII. The decision of the fathers that free will is not equal to save a man.
XIV. The First Conference of Abbot Nesteros.
Chapter I. The words of Abbot Nesteros on the knowledge of the religious.
Chapter II. On grasping the knowledge of spiritual things.
Chapter III. How practical perfection depends on a double system.
Chapter IV. How practical life is distributed among many different professions and interests.
Chapter V. On perseverance in the line that has been chosen.
Chapter VI. How the weak are easily moved.
Chapter VII. An instance of chastity which teaches us that all men should not be emulous of all things.
Chapter VIII. Of spiritual knowledge.
Chapter IX. How from practical knowledge we must proceed to spiritual.
Chapter X. How to embrace the system of true knowledge.
Chapter XI. Of the manifold meaning of the Holy Scriptures.
Chapter XII. A question how we can attain to forgetfulness of the cares of this world.
Chapter XIII. Of the method by which we can remove the dross from our memory.
Chapter XIV. How an unclean soul can neither give nor receive spiritual knowledge.
Chapter XV. An objection owing to the fact that many impure persons have knowledge while saints have not.
Chapter XVI. The answer to the effect that bad men cannot possess true knowledge.
Chapter XVII. To whom the method of perfection should be laid open.
Chapter XVIII. Of the reasons for which spiritual learning is unfruitful.
Chapter XIX. How often even those who are not worthy can receive the grace of the saving word.
XV. The Second Conference of Abbot Nesteros.
Chapter I. Discourse of Abbot Nesteros on the threefold system of gifts.
Chapter II. Wherein one ought to admire the saints.
Chapter III. Of a dead man raised to life by Abbot Macarius.
Chapter IV. Of the miracle which Abbot Abraham wrought on the breasts of a woman.
Chapter V. Of the cure of a lame man which the same saint wrought.
Chapter VI. How the merits of each man should not be judged by his miracles.
Chapter VII. How the excellence of gifts consists not in miracles but in humility.
Chapter VIII. How it is more wonderful to have cast out one's faults from one's self than devils from another.
Chapter IX. How uprightness of life is of more importance than the working of miracles.
Chapter X. A revelation on the trial of perfect chastity.
XVI. The First Conference of Abbot Joseph.
Chapter I. What Abbot Joseph asked us in the first instance.
Chapter II. Discourse of the same elder on the untrustworthy sort of friendship.
Chapter III. How friendship is indissoluble.
Chapter IV. A question whether anything that is really useful should be performed even against a brother's wish.
Chapter V. The answer, how a lasting friendship can only exist among those who are perfect.
Chapter VI. By what means union can be preserved unbroken.
Chapter VII. How nothing should be put before love, or after anger.
Chapter VIII. On what grounds a dispute can arise among spiritual persons.
Chapter IX. How to get rid even of spiritual grounds of discord.
Chapter X. On the best tests of truth.
Chapter XI. How it is impossible for one who trusts to his own judgment to escape being deceived by the devil's illusions.
Chapter XII. Why inferiors should not be despised in Conference.
Chapter XIII. How love does not only belong to God but is God.
Chapter XIV. On the different grades of love.
Chapter XV. Of those who only increase their own or their brother's grievances by hiding them.
Chapter XVI. How it is that, if our brother has any grudge against us, the gifts of our prayers are rejected by the Lord.
Chapter XVII. Of those who hold that patience should be shown to worldly people rather than to the brethren.
Chapter XVIII. Of those who pretend to patience but excite their brethren to anger by their silence.
Chapter XIX. Of those who fast out of rage.
Chapter XX. Of the feigned patience of some who offer the other cheek to be smitten.
Chapter XXI. A question how if we obey the commands of Christ we can fail of evangelical perfection.
Chapter XXII. The answer that Christ looks not only at the action but also at the will.
Chapter XXIII. How he is the strong and vigorous man, who yields to the will of another.
Chapter XXIV. How the weak are harmful and cannot bear wrongs.
Chapter XXV. A question how he can be strong who does not always support the weak.
Chapter XXVI. The answer that the weak does not always allow himself to be borne.
Chapter XXVII. How anger should be repressed.
Chapter XXVIII. How friendships entered upon by conspiracy cannot be lasting ones.
XVII. The Second Conference of Abbot Joseph.
Chapter I. Of the vigils which we endured.
Chapter II. Of the anxiety of Abbot Germanus at the recollection of our promise.
Chapter III. My ideas on this subject.
Chapter IV. Abbot Joseph's question and our answer on the origin of our anxiety.
Chapter V. The explanation of Abbot Germanus why we wanted to stay in Egypt, and were drawn back to Syria.
Chapter VI. Abbot Joseph's question whether we got more good in Egypt than in Syria.
Chapter VII. The answer on the difference of customs in the two countries.
Chapter VIII. How those who are perfect ought not to make any promises absolutely, and whether decisions can be reversed without sin.
Chapter IX. How it is often better to break one's engagements than to fulfil them.
Chapter X. Our question about our fear of the oath which we gave in the monastery in Syria.
Chapter XI. The answer that we must take into account the purpose of the doer rather than the execution of the business.
Chapter XII. How a fortunate issue will be of no avail to evil doers, while bad deeds will not injure good men.
Chapter XIII. Our answer as to the reason which demanded an oath from us.
Chapter XIV. The discourse of the Elder showing how the plan of action may be changed without fault provided that one keeps to the carrying out of a good intention.
Chapter XV. A question whether it can be without sin that our knowledge affords to weak brethren an opportunity for lying.
Chapter XVI. The answer that Scripture truth is not to be altered on account of an offence given to the weak.
Chapter XVII. How the saints have profitably employed a lie like hellebore.
Chapter XVIII. An objection that only those men employed lies with impunity, who lived under the law.
Chapter XIX. The answer, that leave to lie, which was not even granted under the old Covenant, has rightly been taken by many.
Chapter XX. How even Apostles thought that a lie was often useful and the truth injurious.
Chapter XXI. Whether secret abstinence ought to be made known, without telling a lie about it, to those who ask, and whether what has once been declined may be taken in hand.
Chapter XXII. An objection, that abstinence ought to be concealed, but that things that have been declined should not be received.
Chapter XXIII. The answer that obstinacy in this decision is unreasonable.
Chapter XXIV. How Abbot Piamun chose to hide his abstinence.
Chapter XXV. The evidence of Scripture on changes of determination.
Chapter XXVI. How saintly men cannot be hard and obstinate.
Chapter XXVII. A question whether the saying: |I have sworn and am purposed| is opposed to the view given above.
Chapter XXVIII. The answer telling in what cases the determination is to be kept fixedly, and in what cases it may be broken if need be.
Chapter XXIX. How we ought to do those things which are to be kept secret.
Chapter XXX. That no determination should be made on those things which concern the needs of the common life.
The Third Part of the Conferences
XVIII. Conference of Abbot Piamun.
Chapter I. How we came to Diolcos and were received by Abbot Piamun.
Chapter II. The words of Abbot Piamun, how monks who were novices ought to be taught by the example of their elders.
Chapter III. How the juniors ought not to discuss the orders of the seniors.
Chapter IV. Of the three sorts of monks which there are in Egypt.
Chapter V. Of the founders who originated the order of Coenobites.
Chapter VI. Of the system of the Anchorites and its beginning.
Chapter VII. Of the origin of the Sarabaites and their mode of life.
Chapter VIII. Of a fourth sort of monks.
Chapter IX. A question as to what is the difference between a Coenobium and a monastery.
Chapter X. The answer.
Chapter XI. Of true humility, and how Abbot Serapion exposed the mock humility of a certain man.
Chapter XII. A question how true patience can be gained.
Chapter XIII. The answer.
Chapter XIV. Of the example of patience given by a certain religious woman.
Chapter XV. Of the example of patience given by Abbot Paphnutius.
Chapter XVI. On the perfection of patience.
XIX. Conference of Abbot John.
Chapter I. Of the Coenobium of Abbot Paul and the patience of a certain brother.
Chapter II. Of Abbot John's humility and our question.
Chapter III. Abbot John's answer why he had left the desert.
Chapter IV. Of the excellence which the aforesaid old man showed in the system of the anchorites.
Chapter V. Of the advantages of the desert.
Chapter VI. Of the conveniences of the Coenobium.
Chapter VII. A question on the fruits of the Coenobium and the desert.
Chapter VIII. The answer to the question proposed.
Chapter IX. Of true and complete perfection.
Chapter X. Of those who while still imperfect retire into the desert.
Chapter XI. A question how to cure those who have hastily left the congregation of the Coenobium.
Chapter XII. The answer telling how a solitary can discover his faults.
Chapter XIII. A question how a man can be cured who has entered on solitude without having his faults eradicated.
Chapter XIV. The answer on their remedies.
Chapter XV. A question whether chastity ought to be ascertained just as the other feelings.
Chapter XVI. The answer giving the proofs by which it can be recognized.
XX. Conference of Abbot Pinufius.
Chapter I. Of the humility of Abbot Pinufius, and of his hiding-place.
Chapter II. Of our coming to him.
Chapter III. A question on the end of penitence and the marks of satisfaction.
Chapter IV. The answer on the humility shown by our request.
Chapter V. Of the method of penitence and the proof of pardon.
Chapter VI. A question whether our sins ought to be remembered out of contrition of heart.
Chapter VII. The answer showing how far we ought to preserve the recollection of previous actions.
Chapter VIII. Of the various fruits of penitence.
Chapter IX. How valuable to the perfect is the forgetfulness of sin.
Chapter X. How the recollection of our sins should be avoided.
Chapter XI. Of the marks of satisfaction, and the removal of past sins.
Chapter XII. Wherein we must do penance for a time only; and wherein it can have no end.
XXI. The First Conference of Abbot Theonas.
Chapter I. How Theonas came to Abbot John.
Chapter II. The exhortation of Abbot John to Theonas and the others who had come together with him.
Chapter III. Of the offering of tithes and firstfruits.
Chapter IV. How Abraham, David, and other saints went beyond the requirement of the law.
Chapter V. How those who live under the grace of the Gospel ought to go beyond the requirement of the law.
Chapter VI. How the grace of the gospel supports the weak so that they can obtain pardon, as it secures to the perfect the kingdom of God.
Chapter VII. How it lies in our own power to choose whether to remain under the grace of the gospel or under the terror of the law.
Chapter VIII. How Theonas exhorted his wife that she too should make her renunciation.
Chapter IX. How he fled to a monastery when his wife would not consent.
Chapter X. An explanation that we may not appear to recommend separation from wives.
Chapter XI. An inquiry why in Egypt they do not fast during all the fifty days (of Easter) nor bend their knees in prayer.
Chapter XII. The answer on the nature of things good, bad, and indifferent.
Chapter XIII. What kind of good fasting is.
Chapter XIV. How fasting is not good in its own nature.
Chapter XV. How a thing that is good in its own nature ought not to be done for the sake of some lesser good.
Chapter XVI. How what is good in its own nature can be distinguished from other things that are good.
Chapter XVII. Of the reason for fasting and its value.
Chapter XVIII. How fasting is not always suitable.
Chapter XIX. A question why we break the fast all through Eastertide.
Chapter XX. The answer.
Chapter XXI. A question whether the relaxation of the fast is not prejudicial to the chastity of the body.
Chapter XXII. The answer on the way to keep control over abstinence.
Chapter XXIII. Of the time and measure of refreshment.
Chapter XXIV. A question on the different ways of keeping Lent.
Chapter XXV. The answer to the effect that the fast of Lent has reference to the tithe of the year.
Chapter XXVI. How we ought also to offer our firstfruits to the Lord.
Chapter XXVII. Why Lent is kept by very many with a different number of days.
Chapter XXVIII. Why it is called Quadragesima, when the fast is only kept for thirty-six days.
Chapter XXIX. How those who are perfect go beyond the fixed rule of Lent.
Chapter XXX. Of the origin and beginning of Lent.
Chapter XXXI. A question, how we ought to understand the Apostle's words: |Sin shall not have dominion over you.|
Chapter XXXII. The answer on the difference between grace and the commands of the law.
Chapter XXXIII. Of the fact that the precepts of the gospel are milder than those of the law.
Chapter XXXIV. How a man can be shown to be under grace.
Chapter XXXV. A question, why sometimes when we are fasting more strictly than usual, we are troubled by carnal desires more keenly than usual.
Chapter XXXVI. The answer, telling that this question should be reserved for a future Conference.
XXII. The Second Conference of Abbot Theonas.
XXIII. The Third Conference of Abbot Theonas.
Chapter I. Discourse of Abbot Theonas on the Apostle's words: |For I do not the good which I would.|
Chapter II. How the Apostle completed many good actions.
Chapter III. What is really the good which the Apostle testifies that he could not perform.
Chapter IV. How man's goodness and righteousness are not good if compared with the goodness and righteousness of God.
Chapter V. How no one can be continually intent upon that highest good.
Chapter VI. How those who think that they are without sin are like purblind people.
Chapter VII. How those who maintain that a man can be without sin are charged with a twofold error.
Chapter VIII. How it is given to but few to understand what sin is.
Chapter IX. Of the care with which a monk should preserve the recollection of God.
Chapter X. How those who are on the way to perfection are truly humble, and feel that they always stand in need of God's grace.
Chapter XI. Explanation of the phrase: |For I delight in the law of God after the inner man,| etc.
Chapter XII. Of this also: |But we know that the law is spiritual,| etc.
Chapter XIII. Of this also: |But I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.|
Chapter XIV. An objection, that the saying: |For I do not the good that I would,| etc., applies to the persons neither of unbelievers nor of saints.
Chapter XV. The answer to the objection raised.
Chapter XVI. What is the body of sin.
Chapter XVII. How all the saints have confessed with truth that they were unclean and sinful.
Chapter XVIII. That even good and holy men are not without sin.
Chapter XIX. How even in the hour of prayer it is almost impossible to avoid sin.
Chapter XX. From whom we can learn the destruction of sin and perfection of goodness.
Chapter XXI. That although we acknowledge that we cannot be without sin, yet still we ought not to suspend ourselves from the Lord's Communion.
XXIV. Conference of Abbot Abraham.
Chapter I. How we laid bare the secrets of our thoughts to Abbot Abraham.
Chapter II. How the old man exposed our errors.
Chapter III. Of the character of the districts which anchorites ought to seek.
Chapter IV. What sorts of work should be chosen by solitaries.
Chapter V. That anxiety of heart is made worse rather than better by restlessness of body.
Chapter VI. A comparison showing how a monk ought to keep guard over his thoughts.
Chapter VII. A question why the neighbourhood of our kinsfolk is considered to interfere with us, whereas it does not interfere in the case of those living in Egypt.
Chapter VIII. The answer that all things are not suitable for all men.
Chapter IX. That those need not fear the neighbourhood of their kinsfolk, who can emulate the mortification of Abbot Apollos.
Chapter X. A question whether it is bad for a monk to have his wants supplied by his kinsfolk.
Chapter XI. The answer stating what Saint Antony laid down on this matter.
Chapter XII. Of the value of work and the harm of idleness.
Chapter XIII. A story of a barber's payments, introduced for the sake of recognizing the devil's illusions.
Chapter XIV. A question how such wrong notions can creep into us.
Chapter XV. The answer on the threefold movement of the soul.
Chapter XVI. That the rational part of our soul is corrupt.
Chapter XVII. How the weaker part of the soul is the first to yield to the devil's temptations.
Chapter XVIII. A question whether we should be drawn back to our country by a proper desire for greater silence.
Chapter XIX. The answer on the devil's illusion, because he promises us the peace of a vaster solitude.
Chapter XX. How useful is relaxation on the arrival of brethren.
Chapter XXI. How the Evangelist John is said to have shown the value of relaxation.
Chapter XXII. A question how we ought to understand what the gospel says |My yoke is easy and My burden is light.|
Chapter XXIII. The answer with the explanation of the saying.
Chapter XXIV. Why the Lord's yoke is felt grievous and His burden heavy.
Chapter XXV. Of the good which an attack of temptation brings about.
Chapter XXVI. How the promise of an hundredfold in this life is made to those whose renunciation is perfect.
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