“Perfect Christians who have been permitted to arrive at measures of perfection and to come very near the King, these are continually consecrated to the cross of Christ. As in the days of the prophets the unction was more precious than all things else, since unction made them kings and prophets, and now spiritual men, who are anointed with the the heavenly unction, become Christs according to grace, so that they too are kings, and prophets og heavenly mysteries. These are sons and lords and gods made prisoners and captives. …
“If the anointing of oil, which came from a material plant, a visible tree, had such force that those who were anointed received dignity beyond dispute—for it was a fixed rule, so that they were appointed kings; David, for instance, after being anointed, immediately fell into persecutions and was afflicted, and then after seven years became king—how much more do all who are anointed in mind and the inner man with the hallowing and cheering oil of gladness? The heavenly spiritual oil receive the stamp of that kingdom of the imperishable and everlasting power, the earnest of the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. He is called the comforter because he comforts those who are in affliction.” ~St. Macarius the Egyptian
Measures of Perfection
The truth is, nobody can be perfect on Earth, Christian or otherwise. But that doesn’t mean we should throw in the towel and just be barbarians. We can aim for perfection. We can become more perfect over time. Even if we can’t reach that goal during our life on Earth, we can make the effort to get as close as possible. Then we have less work to do after we die and find that the journey continues even after physical death, which it does. Only the perfected get into Heaven, no exceptions. So we should work towards that goal at all times.
When St. Macarius says we come “very near the King” when we do that, he isn’t referring to some earthly king, but to the true King in Heaven, which is God. God is, by definition, the perfect being, so the more we become perfected, the closer we get to God. Perfection is not, as some spiritual gurus claim, an unattainable goal so not worth pursuing. It is a valid goal and worth aiming for. And as someone once said with regard to goals, “aim high so even if you don’t reach the goal, you have still done well”. That, I think makes sense with the pursuit of perfection as well as all other goals we have in life.
Only One Perfection
I think that possibly some say that perfection is unattainable, so not worth bothering with, is that they are looking at perfection in various fields and earthly things such as the perfect surgeon, the perfect lawyer, the perfect teacher, and so on. It is true that one can never claim perfection in such things because there are no set criteria for it, and someone else will always come along and do better. So there is really only one perfection, and that is spiritual perfection. This perfection consists of reaching the highest state of consciousness and becoming one with The Source, one with God and the Angels in heaven. Nothing can ever be higher than that, so there is no fear that a greater perfection will come along and outdo it. It cannot happen! Becoming one with God is the only true perfection, and it is the perfection that St. Macarius, and all legitimate spiritual teachers, encourage us to pursue, and pursue with great effort. It is very much worth achieving.
Consecrated to the Cross of Christ
Many interpret this as meaning that they should worship Christ as God, but that is not what it means at all. It means they should awaken and develop the Christ Consciousness, or Christ Self, that is within each of us, though dormant. Jesus taught this to his apostles and hinted at it in some of his public speeches. He knew that what he did was not unique. He told his disciples they could do as he did, and more, if they only learned to believe. He also indicated, however, that it is made more difficult if you are surrounded by non-believers, even if you believe. It is like a person in a mental hospital who believes he is Robin Hood. He doesn’t become Robin Hood because no one else believes it, and his own belief is really not that strong. Jesus had awakened the Christ within, so his believe was strong and backed by great power and energy, the energy of the Spiritual Sun, so he was able to still do some miraculous things even when surrounded by doubters. But he could have done much more if the doubters had become believers. This awakening the Christ Consciousness is a major step in achieving ultimate perfection.
Anointing with Oil
I doubt that St. Macarius believed that anointing with oil, no matter how holy or blessed the oil, really had much effect on a person’s spiritual growth toward perfection. He does add that being anointed by the mind the inner man is more effective. I think he is speaking allegorically and was well aware that it was the Light of the Spiritual Sun that was the true “oil” that awakened the spirit and soul and set us off on the journey toward achieving Christ Consciousness and ultimately, perfection.