St Macarius of Egypt: Has the Paraclete Established Boundaries for Your Heart?

Feast of the Holy Hieromartyr Dorotheus of Tyre

Macarius_Square_2.jpgABBA MACARIUS said: The wiles of the Enemy are those called “night” and “darkness,” as Paul said, “We do not belong to night, nor do we belong to darkness, but we belong to the day” (1 Th. 5.5-8), for indeed the Son of God is the day and the Devil is the night.

But if the heart passes by these wars, once again they besiege the combatant out of ill-will and then they begin to wage war on him with fornication and taking pleasure with children. On account of these wars, therefore, the heart is enfeebled so that it is impossible for the person to safeguard his purity as they make him aware of the seconds and minutes and the hardships of leading a life of virtue and how hard life is. As a result, great suffering and weariness come over the body.

But if the heart grows weary in these matters and becomes enfeebled on account of the sufferings caused by these wars, if the person drives evil away from his heart and cries out to God, groaning in his soul and suffering, then the good God who has compassion for his creature sends a holy power that takes possession of the heart and gives him weeping and rejoicing and relief. As a result, he becomes stronger than the enmity opposing him and his enemies are unable to prevail against him because they are afraid of the power that has come upon him. As the apostle Paul proclaims, “Strive so that you may receive power” (Acts 1.8 and Lk. 13.24). For this is the power that Peter spoke about when he said, “There is an inheritance that is imperishable and incorruptible that is watching over you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith” (1 Pet. 1.4).

When the good God sees that the heart is strong against enmity, then he begins to withdraw the power from him. Seeing his free intention, and making use of fear, God suddenly allows enmity into him in order to wage war against him with defilements and with the pleasure that comes from seeing and spiritual vanity and haughtiness. The person is like a rudderless ship drifting here and there.

When the heart grows very weary on account of enmity, then God, who is good and has compassion for his creature, once again sends him the holy power and it strengthens his soul and heart and body and all his other members beneath the yoke of the Paraclete, as our Savior Jesus Christ says: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Mt. 11.29).

Then the good God begins to open “the eyes of the heart” (Eph. 1.18) in order for the person to acknowledge and honor God with humility and contriteness of heart, as David says: “A sacrifice to God is a contrite and humble heart” (Ps. 51.17). For from the sufferings caused by the wars, humility and contrition take root in the heart.

Then the power reveals heavenly things to the mind and heart and reveals the songs and glory that will come to those who persevere, and the power also reveals that if the person endures numerous sufferings, these are insignificant compared with the honor that God will give to him, as the apostle once again says: “The sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us” (Rom. 8.18). Then they begin to reveal the punishments before the heart and those who are being punished and many other things, all of which I am not able to declare.

And the Parclete establishes boundaries for the heart, that is, those things that make the soul and the other members pure, and establishes great humility and watchfulness and an understanding of watchfulness, and the placing of oneself beneath all of creation, and the ability not to be concerned about the evil deeds of any person, and keeping the eyes pure, and guarding the tongue (Jas. 3.5, 8), and keeping the feet pure, and working righteousness with the hands, and worshiping with prayers, and mortification of the body, and the ability to keep vigil for God. These things are determined for him in moderation and with consideration, not to cause confusion but to bring about what is godly and proper.

—St Macarius the Spiritbearer, The Virtues of Saint Macarius

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