Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume XI/John Cassian/Conferences of John Cassian, Part I/Conference III/Chapter 5
How the first of these calls is of no use to a sluggard, and the last is no hindrance to one who is in earnest.
Of these three calls then, although the two former may seem to rest on better principles, yet sometimes we find that even by the third grade, which seems the lowest and the coldest, men have been made perfect and most earnest in spirit, and have become like those who made an admirable beginning in approaching the Lord’s service, and passed the rest of their lives also in most laudable fervour of spirit: and again we find that from the higher grade very many have grown cold, and often have come to a miserable end. And just as it was no hindrance to the former class that they seemed to be converted not of their own free will, but by force and compulsion, in as much as the loving kindness of the Lord secured for them the opportunity for repentance, so too to the latter it was of no avail that the early days of their conversion were so bright, because they were not careful to bring the remainder of their life to a suitable end. For in the case of Abbot Moses, who lived in a spot in the wilderness called Calamus, nothing was wanting to his merits and perfect bliss, in consequence of the fact that he was driven to flee to the monastery through fear of death, which was hanging over him because of a murder; for he made such use of his compulsory conversion that with ready zeal he turned it into a voluntary one and climbed the topmost heights of perfection. As also on the other hand; to very many, whose names I ought not to mention, it has been of no avail that they entered on the Lord’s service with better beginning than this, as afterwards sloth and hardness of heart crept over them, and they fell into a dangerous state of torpor, and the bottomless pit of death, an instance of which we see clearly indicated in the call of the Apostles. For of what good was it to Judas that he had of his own free will embraced the highest grade of the Apostolate in the same way in which Peter and the rest of the Apostles had been summoned, as he allowed the splendid beginning of his call to terminate in a ruinous end of cupidity and covetousness, and as a cruel murderer even rushed into the betrayal of the Lord? Or what hindrance was it to Paul that he was suddenly blinded, and seemed to be drawn against his will into the way of salvation, as afterwards he followed the Lord with complete fervour of soul, and having begun by compulsion completed it by a free and voluntary devotion, and terminated with a magnificent end a life that was rendered glorious by such great deeds? Everything therefore depends upon the end; in which one who was consecrated by a noble conversion at the outset may through carelessness turn out a failure, and one who was compelled by necessity to adopt the monastic life may through fear of God and earnestness be made perfect.
- Moses. This Abbot is possibly a different person from the author of the first two Conferences, who had in his youth been a pupil of Antony; whereas the one here mentioned only took the monastic life out of fear of death on a charge of murder. He is mentioned again in Conferences VII. xxvi., XIX. xi., and some account of him is given in Sozomen H.E. VI. xxix.
- Calamus, mentioned again in the Institutes X. xxiv. (where see note), and cf. Conf. VII. xxvi.; XXIV. iv.