The Conferences Of John Cassian by John Cassian
Chapter XIII. A question how a man can be cured who has entered on solitude without having his faults eradicated.
Germanus: We very clearly and plainly see the proofs by which the signs of infirmities are inferred, and the method of discerning diseases, i.e., how the faults which are concealed in us can be detected: for our every day experience and the daily motions of our thoughts show us all these as they have been stated. It remains then that as the proofs and causes of our maladies have been exposed to us in a most clear way so their remedies and cures may also be shown. For no one can doubt that one who has first discovered the grounds and beginnings of ailments, with the approving witness of the conscience of those affected, can best discourse on their remedies. And so though the teaching of your holiness has laid bare the secrets of our wounds whereby we venture to have some hope of a remedy, because so clear a diagnosis of the disease gives promise of the hope of a cure, yet because, as you say, the first elements of salvation are acquired in the Coenobium, and men cannot be in a sound condition in solitude, unless they have first been healed by the medicine of the Coenobium, we have fallen again into a dangerous state of despair lest as we left the Coenobium in an imperfect condition we may not now that we are in the desert succeed in becoming perfect.