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Fifty Spiritual Homilies Of Saint Macarius The Egyptian

We ought to pray to God continually and with attention.

1. IT behoves us to pray, not by bodily habit, nor with a habit of crying, nor by a custom of silence, or of bending the knees, but soberly, taking heed to our minds, to wait upon God, until He shall come to us and visit the soul through all its modes of egress and its paths and senses, and so to be silent when we ought, and to cry out when we ought, and to pray with loud crying, so long as the mind is strong towards God. As the body, when at work, is entirely occupied with the work on which it is engaged, and all the members of it help one another, so let the soul be entirely given up to asking and love towards the Lord, not wandering and carried about with thoughts, but with all its might endeavouring and gathering itself up with all its thoughts, and bent upon waiting for Christ.

2. And thus will He lighten upon it, teaching it the true asking, giving it the pure spiritual prayer, which is worthy of God, and the worship which is in spirit and in truth. But as one who has taken up the profession of merchandise is not content with a single device for getting gain, but presses forward to increase and multiply his gain in every direction, after one device pursuing another, and then running on to another expedient, and always shying off from what is unprofitable, runs to that which is more lucrative; so let us also fit our souls out with versatility and skill, to obtain the great true gain, even God, who teaches us truly to pray. In this way the Lord rests upon the soul’s good intention, making it a throne of glory, and sitting and resting upon it. That was what we heard from the prophet Ezekiel, concerning the spiritual creatures harnessed to the chariot of the Lord. He represents them to us as eyes all over, as the soul is that carries God, or rather is carried by God; it becomes all eye.

3. As a house that has its master at home is full of all orderliness and beauty and seemliness, so the soul which has its Lord with it, and abiding in it, is full of all beauty. It has the Lord with His spiritual treasures for its inhabitant and its charioteer. But woe to the house whose master is away, and whose lord is not present. It is desolate, and broken down, full of all uncleanness and disorder. There, as the prophet says, sirens and demons dwell. In the deserted house are cats and dogs, and all uncleanness. Woe to the soul that does not arise from its grievous fall, nor receive the fair Master of the house, even Christ, for its inhabitant, but remains in its uncleanness, and has within it those who persuade and compel it to have enmity with its own Bridegroom, and desire to corrupt its thoughts from Christ.

4. But when the Lord sees that to the best of its ability the soul recollects itself, always seeking and waiting for the Lord night and day, and crying to Him, even as He commanded to pray without ceasing in everything, He will avenge it, as He promised, cleansing it from the evil within it, and will present it unto Himself a bride without blemish and without spot.

Now if you believe that these things are true, as indeed they are, take heed to yourself, whether your soul has found the light to guide it, and the true meat and drink, which is the Lord. If you have not, seek night and day, that you may receive. When you see the sun, seek the true Sun, for you are blind. When you behold the light, look into your soul, whether you have found the true Light, the good Light. All the things which meet the senses are a shadow of the true realities of the soul. There is another man within, besides the man who is seen; and eyes, which Satan has blinded, and ears, which he has deafened; and Jesus came to make this inward man whole. To whom be the glory and the might, with the Father and the Holy Ghost for ever. Amen.

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