MAXIMUS THE CONFESSOR
I am planning to spend a lot of time writing about St. Maximus the Confessor, reflecting on his teaahings on love. He wrote 400 "paragraphs" on love, and this is the first:
""Love is a holy state of the soul, disposing it to value knowedge of God above all created things. We cannot attain lasting possession of such love while we are still attached to anythnig worldly."
If love at its highest level is what you want - in the likeness of God - it means you must ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any other love that goes beyond just a natural affection for something created, so that it is really an idol, loved more than is right and stands in the way of real knowledge of God. Loving nature and the beauty of God's creation is not evil. But loving it more than knowing God prevents you from loves highest development. Evils - the passions - are ALWAYS a barrier against knowing God and the perfect love he wants to reveal - WITHOUT ANY EXCEPTIONS. We can love God very much even in the midst of our sins and our struggle against passions....he is endlessly patient and knows our weakness, but love comes down to a decision, and then a daily struggle to do what love requires ....with regard to our neighbor but also with regard to God.