April 22

He who cultivates prayer has to fight with all diligence and watchfulness, all endurance, all struggle of soul and toil of body, so that he does not become sluggish and surrender himself to distraction of thought, to excessive sleep, to listlessness, debility and confusion…satisfied merely with standing or kneeling for a long time, while his intellect wanders far away….

Unless humility and love, simplicity and goodness regulate our prayer, this prayer–or, rather, this pretense of prayer–cannot profit us at all. And this applies not only to prayer, but to every labor and hardship undertaken for the sake of virtue…if we do not see in ourselves the fruits of love, peace, joy, simplicity, humility, gentleness, guilelessness, faith, forbearance and kindliness, then we endure our hardship to no purpose….if the fruits of love are not in us, our labor is useless….

The person who has surrendered himself entirely to sin indulges with enjoyment and pleasure in unnatural and shameful passions–licentiousness, unchastity, greed, hatred, guile and other forms of vices–as though they were natural. The genuine and perfected Christian, on the other hand, with great enjoyment and spiritual pleasure participates effortlessly and without impediment in all the virtues and all the supranatural fruits of the Spirit–love, peace, patient endurance, faith, humility and the entire truly golden galaxy of virtue–as though they were natural.

~St Makarios of Egypt (paraphrased by St Symeon Metaphrastis)

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