More from Pseudo-Macarius from Homily 5: The great difference between Christians* and men of this world. For the latter, imbued with the spirit of the world, are in heart and mind held captive by earthly shackles. Christians, however, are possessed by a love for their heavenly Father. They keep him alone before their eyes in all their desires.
"...when we read in Scripture how such and such a just man pleased God, how he was made a friend and companion of God and how all the fathers were considered friends and participators of God, we forget one thing: What great afflictions they had to suffer, how much they had to endure on behalf of God, with what great courage they struggled and fought battles! We congratulate them and we wish to enjoy rewards and honors equal to theirs. We desire ardently to receive their outstanding gifts, but we fail to notice their labors, struggles, afflictions, and crucifixions. We eagerly want honors and dignities such as they received from God, but we are not ready to accept their labors and struggles."
"Blessed Apostle Paul, in describing the heavenly treasure, that is, the grace of the Spirit, explains also the multitude of tribulations and at the same time shows what each one ought to strive for while in this life: 'We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made by hands, eternal in Heaven' (2Cor 5:1).
"Therefore, let all strive and labor with all the virtues and let them believe that they, even here, may possess that house. For even if the house of our body is dissolved, we have no other house to which the soul can turn. It is said: 'If, being clothed, we shall not be found naked' (2 Cor 5:3), naked, that is, of the communion and fellowship of the Holy Spirit in which the faithful soul can alone find rest."
"How, therefore, ought each of us to believe and to strive and to be dedicated to live a full virtuous life? With much hope and endurance we should now desire the privilege of receiving that heavenly power and the glory of the Holy Spirit interiorly in the soul so that then, when our bodies will have been dissolved, we may receive what shall clothe and vivify us. It says, 'If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked' (2 Cor 5:3), and 'He shall bring to life our mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in us' (Rom 8:11)."
"Therefore, each one of us should strive and make every effort to pursue diligently all virtues. We ought to believe and seek from the Lord that the inner man receive even now this glory and that we may participate in the holiness of the Spirit so that, purged from all sordid traces of evil, we may receive also in the resurrection what will clothe our bodies as they rise naked, what will cover over any deformity, will vivify and transform them in the heavenly kingdom forever."
This morning, when discussing with a young friend across the many miles that separate us physically, we came up with a challenge to pray and ask His Real Presence to take away whatever attachments we have to temporal loves and passions that are hindering us--and that He knows we can handle their being removed. (We added this latter part due to the reality that we might tend to exceed in our zeal and desires, what we can humanly part with at this stage of our spiritual lives--for He knows best.)
But we are willing and desirous, and we plan to point out to one another (accountability!) what is at the root of any unhappiness or upset, for there surely always be at the root some attachment or other to a temporal love. In fact, we challenged one another, there and then on the phone, to come up with just ONE temporal love that we could honestly say or prove does not hinder us in some way, does not trip us up in the mind and emotions. We could find NONE.
Perhaps you readers might want to join in our prayer and challenge to let go of whatever temporal loves that attach us and hinder us from love of God above all else--and limit us then from His perfect love that will filter and project, then, onto and in all His created souls and creation.
*Pseudo-Macarius was writing in a region and time period in which there was not the divergence among Christians as in our time period and cultures. Today's Christians are diverse in degrees of following Christ; for example, some are termed "devout" or "orthodox," and others are termed "Christian in name only." We Christians today could some of us find ourselves in Pseudo-Macarius' category of "men of the world." Or perhaps today he'd have three categories: "Christians," "lukewarm/worldly Christians", and "men of this world."