Feast of the Holy Matrona of Thessalonica
IT IS CLEARLY proved that perfection is not immediately arrived at by being stripped and deprived of all one’s wealth or by giving up one’s honors, unless there is that love whose elements the Apostle describes, which consists in purity of heart alone. For what else does it mean not to be envious, not to be boastful, not to be angry, not to do evil, not to seek the things that are one’s own, not to rejoice over iniquity, not to think evil and all the rest, if not always to offer God a perfect and utterly clean heart and to keep it unsullied by any passion?
For the sake of this, then, everything is to be done and desired. For its sake solitude is to be pursued; for its sake we know that we must undertake fasts, vigils, labors, bodily deprivation, readings, and other virtuous things, so that by them we may be able to acquire and keep a heart untouched by any harmful passion, and so that by taking these steps we may be able to ascend to the perfection of love.
—St John Cassian, The Conferences