‘Just as the blessings promised by God are unutterably great, so their acquisition requires much hardship and toil undertaken with hope and faith. This is clear from Christ’s words: “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24); and: “he who does not hate father and mother, brothers and sisters, wife and children, and even his own soul, cannot be a disciple of mine” (Luke 14:26). Most people are so lacking in intelligence as to want to attain the great and inconceivable blessing of the kingdom of God, and to inherit eternal life and reign for ever with Christ, while living according to their own desires - or rather, according to him who sows within them these clearly noxious vanities.’
St. Symeon Metaphrastis
It is necessary to hate sin, and to hate the occasion of sin to truly be pure of heart. To die to the world, to gain Christ.
In other words, to gain Christ we often have to hate good things because they get in the way between us and Christ, and because we love them and prefer them to Christ – and so we must reject them vehemently so that we can truly love Christ interiorly, rather than merely being a facade or whitewashed tomb.
It is not evil to hate good things, it is a necessary interior adjustment so that a person only loves Christ, and that when a person perceives any good thing, he perceives it properly instead of focusing on it.
This hatred is not an intellectual desire that people come to evil, but an interior adjustment to break our own evil attachments. It is an intellectual and emotional repelling, rather than desiring for these things, a disgust to replace disordered attachment.
We ultimately have to give up every single thing we have – some perhaps we will gain back, though we will no longer perceive these things the same way – but we must give up all to God to break our attachment to it, and to put it to the test in regards to the ways it may and does make us sin.
This is why fasting and generally living a life with few belongings, for the most part only that which is necessary, mortification, etc. is so important.
The devil teaches self indulgence in the sensual pleasures, often under the guise of Christianity, as a false ‘angel of light’ or ‘wolf’. Many popular books and teachers promote these subjects. But the people who do so are anti-Christ, not Christians, awash in the world.
St. Padre Pio met at least two different blind people in his life – Both asked to be healed. One, a Jew, he healed, but only after he had been baptized and so acquired spiritual sight. The other, he refused, telling that person that if he gave the man his sight, he would lose his soul.
Physical mutilation is normally a sin so we are not allowed to indulge in it even slightly without extenuating circumstances.
But cutting off everything that is not a part of our body, there is nothing wrong with that at all.
Music, friends, family, good deeds, small things and large – anything that gets between a person and God – must go. Nothing is as important as Him.
‘For even His chastisements and His punishments are the greatest part of His beneficence, the greatest form of His providence. Whenever therefore thou seest that famines have taken place, and pestilences, and drought and immoderate rains, and irregularities in the atmosphere, or any other of the things which chasten human nature, be not distressed, nor be despondent, but worship Him who caused them, marvel at Him for His tender care.’
St. John Chrysostom
‘A great help to advancement in spiritual life is to have a friend whom you will permit to inform you of your faults.’
St. Ignatius of Loyola