June 5

The truly sincere and devout Christian who has tasted the sweetness of divine things, whose soul is infused and mingled with grace, and who has entrusted his whole being to the purposes of grace, hates every worldly thing. Whether it is gold or silver, honor or glory, esteem or praise, or anything else, he is superior to it, and none of these things is able to captivate him; for he has experienced other riches and another honor and glory, his soul is nourished by an incorruptible delight, and through the fellowship of the Spirit he has full and conscious assurance.

~St Makarios of Egypt

May 30

The communion itself of the Holy Spirit, celestial treasures, the dances and festivals of the angels–these things are clear only to those who have experience of them; to the uninitiated they are totally beyond comprehension. Thus you must listen with reverence to what is said about them, until through faith you are enabled to attain them; then you will know, with the actual experience of the soul’s eyes, in what blessings and mysteries the souls of Christians can share even during this present life. When in the resurrection their body becomes spiritual, it too is enabled to attain, behold and, so to speak, grasp these things.

~St Makarios of Egypt

May 29

If on hearing about the kingdom of heaven we are brought to tears, do not let us be content with these tears, or think that we hear well with our ears or see well with our eyes, and that we need nothing further. For there are other ears, other eyes, other tears, just as there is another mind and another soul. I am referring to the divine and heavenly Spirit, that hears and weeps, prays and knows, and that truly carries out God’s will.

When the Lord promised the great gift of the Spirit to the apostles, He said: “I am going; but the Intercessor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything” (John 14:26); and: “I still have much to tell you, but its burden is more than you can bear now. When, however, He who is the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12-13). He, therefore, will pray and He will weep. For, as St Paul says: “No one but the Spirit of God knows about the things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11).

When, as promised, on the day of Pentacost the Paraclete made Himself present and the power of the Holy Spirit came to dwell in the souls of the apostles, the veil of sinfulness was once and for all removed from them, their passions were annulled and the eyes of their heart were opened. Hencefore they were filled with wisdom and made perfect by the Spirit: through Him they knew how to carry out God’s will, and through Him they were initiated into all truth, for He directed and reigned in their souls.

Thus, when we are brought to tears on hearing God’s word, let us entreat Christ with unwavering faith and in the expectation that the Spirit, who truly hears and prays according to God’s will and purpose, will indeed come to us.

~St Makarios of Egypt

 

 

May 21

Just as the blessings promised by God are unutterably great, so their acquisition requires much hardship and toil undertaken with hope and faith. This is clear from Christ’s words: ‘If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me’ (Matthew 16:24); and: ‘He who does not hate father and mother, brothers and sisters, wife and children, and even his own soul, cannot be a disciple of Mine’ (Luke 14:26). Most people are so lacking in intelligence as to want to attain the great and inconceivable blessing of the kingdom of God, and to inherit eternal life and reign forever with Christ, while living according to their own desires–or rather, according to him who sows within them these clearly noxious vanities.

Those who reach the goal without falling do so through hating themselves and all worldly desires, distractions, pleasures and preoccupations, for this is what ‘denying oneself’ amounts to. Hence everyone expels himself from the kingdom by his own choice, through not embracing suffering and denying himself for the sake of the truth, but wanting to enjoy something of this world in addition to that divine longing, and not surrendering the whole inclination of his will to God.

~St Makarios of Egypt

May 19

It is significant how deeply attracted men are by the spectacle of an earthly king and how eagerly they seek after it; and how everyone who lives in a city where the king has his residence longs to catch a glimpse simply of the extravagance and ostentation of his entourage. Only under the influence of spiritual things will they disregard all this and look down on it, wounded by another beauty and desiring a different kind of glory.

If sight of a mortal king is so important to worldly people, how much more desirable must the sight of the immortal king be to those into whom some drops of the Holy Spirit have fallen and whose hearts have been smitten by divine love?

For this they will relinquish all amity with the world, so that they may keep that longing continually in their hearts, preferring nothing to it. But few indeed there are who add to a good beginning an equivalent end and who endure without stumbling until they reach it….those who wish to pursue the way with assurance to the end will not permit any other longing or love to intermingle with their divine love.

~St Makarios of Egypt

April 27

He who follows the spiritual path must pay great attention to discrimination, since the ability to distinguish between good and evil, and to scrutinize and understand the various tricks through which the devil by means of plausible fantasies leads most people astray, keeps us safe and helps us in every way….

For the devil cannot bring about love either for God or for one’s neighbor, or gentleness, or humility, or joy, or peace, or equilibrium in one’s thoughts, or hatred of the world, or spiritual repose, or desire for celestial things; nor can he quell the passions and sensual pleasure. These things are clearly the workings of grace. For the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace and so on (Galatians 5:22), while the devil is most apt and powerful in promoting vanity and haughtiness.

You know from its effect whether the intellectual light shining in your soul is from God or from Satan.

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

April 23

When people say that it is impossible to attain perfection, to be once and for all free from the passions, or to participate fully in the Holy Spirit, we should cite Holy Scripture against them…for the Lord said: ‘Become perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48), perfection denoting total purity…and St Paul is saying the same as Christ when he writes: ‘…so that we may present every man perfect in Christ’ (Colossians 1:28); and: ‘…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13).

Those who deny the possibility of perfection inflict the greatest damage on the soul in three ways. First, they manifestly disbelieve the inspired Scriptures. Then, because they do not make the greatest and fullest goal of Christianity their own, and so do not aspire to attain it, they can have no longing and diligence, no hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6); on the contrary, content with outward show and behavior and with minor accomplishments of this kind, they abandon that blessed expectation together with the pursuit of perfection and of the total purification of the passions. Third, thinking they have reached the goal when they have acquired a few virtues, and not pressing on to the true goal, not only are they incapable of having any humility, poverty and contrition of heart but, justifying themselves on the grounds that they have already arrived, they make no efforts to progress and grow day by day.

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

 

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)

April 19

The crown of every good endeavor and the highest of achievements is diligence in prayer. Through it, God guiding us and lending a helping hand, we come to acquire the other virtues. It is in prayer that the saints experience communion in the hidden energy of God’s holiness and inner union with it, and their intellect itself is brought through unutterable love into the presence of the Lord.

…Just as the work of prayer is greater than other work, so it demands greater effort and attention from the person ardently devoted to it, lest without him being aware the devil deprives him of it….he must keep strict watch, so that fruits of love and humility, simplicity and goodness–and, along with them, fruits of discrimination–may grow daily from the constancy of his prayer. These will make evident his progress and increase in holiness, thus encouraging others to make similar efforts.

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