Wednesday of the II Week of August From the Conferences of St John Cassian, Abbot
There are many kinds of friendship and companionship which unite men in very different ways in the bonds of love. Among all these there is one kind of love which is indissoluble, where the union is owing not to the favour of a recommendation, or some great kindness or gifts, or the reason of some bargain, or the necessities of nature, but simply to similarity of virtue. This, I say, is what is broken by no chances, what no interval of time or space can sever or destroy, and what even death itself cannot part. This is true and unbroken love which grows by means of the double perfection and goodness of friends, and which, when once its bonds have been entered, no difference of liking and no disturbing opposition of wishes can sever.
This, as we said, is the sure and indissoluble union of friendship, where the tie consists only in likeness in goodness. For the Lord makes men to be of one mind in an house. And therefore love can only continue undisturbed in those in whom there is but one purpose and mind to will and to refuse the same things. And if you also wish to keep this unbroken, you must be careful that having first got rid of your faults, you mortify your own desires, and with united zeal and purpose diligently fulfil that in which the prophet specially delights: “Behold how good and joyful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
This should be taken of unity of spirit rather than of place. For it is of no use for those who differ in character and purpose to be united in one dwelling, nor is it an hindrance for those who are grounded on equal goodness to be separated by distance of place. For with God the union of character, not of place, joins brethren together in a common dwelling, nor can unruffled peace ever be maintained where difference of will appears. For this reason we said that the full and perfect grace of friendship can only last among those who are perfect and of equal goodness, whose likemindedness and common purpose allows them either never, or at any rate hardly ever, to disagree, or to differ in those matters which concern their progress in the spiritual life.
Responsory. I beseech you, brethren, || by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; * Be you perfect in the same mind, and in the same judgment. V. Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity. * Be you perfect … Glory be … Be you perfect …