09 March 2009

In the World but Not of the World

If… you are unable to abandon everything which the world offers, you must so hold those things that are of this world, that you may not be held by them in the world; that earthly interests may be possessed, not be the possessor. If your mind is bound by the love of earthly things, it may itself rather be possessed by its own possessions.

Let temporal possessions be what you use, eternal things what you desire. Let temporal goods be for use on the way; eternal goods be desired for when you arrive at your goal. Let the eyes of our minds gaze straight ahead of us, while they are focused intently on the goal to which we shall come.

My brethren, we do not take it upon us to say that you should give up everything, but yet, even while holding to all things, you can if you wish, leave them, if you so handle temporal matters as to strive with the whole mind to eternal aims… Have all earthly… things for use and not as objects of… desires… Let there be nothing to hold back the desire of your mind, let not the love of anything in this world entangle you.

If the good is loved, then let the mind delight in better goods, that is, in heavenly. If evil is feared, let eternal evils be put before the mind, so that when it sees there in heaven both a greater abundance of what it loves and of what it fears, it will no longer cling here on earth.

To carry out these things we have a Mediator between God and men, our Helper, through Whom we shall more quickly obtain everything, if we burn with true love for Him, Who lives and reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

~Saint Gregory the Great, Lib. II, Hom. XXXVI~