Thursday, 7 February 2013

St Macarius the Great- The gifts of grace are preserved by a humble mind...

HOMILY 6: The gifts of grace are preserved by an humble mind, and a ready will; but destroyed by pride and sloth.

1. THE souls that are lovers of truth and of GOD, and desirous to put on CHRIST completely, though they may suffer in some measure a state of emptiness; yet being wholly nailed to the cross of CHRIST, they perceive, day after day, an experimental sense of their advances towards the spiritual Bridegroom. And being wounded with an heavenly desire, and hungering after righteousness, they have an insatiable longing for the Spirit to shine out upon them. And though they are thought worthy to receive, through faith, the knowledge of Divine mysteries, or are made partakers of the gladness of heavenly grace, yet they have no confidence in themselves: but the more of spiritual gifts they enjoy, the more insatiable is the heavenly desire they are filled with; the more they are sensible of the spiritual progress in themselves, the more hungry and thirsty are they after the increase of grace; and the richer they spiritually are, by so much the more do they seem to themselves to be in want, and are carried out with a spiritual desire after the heavenly Bridegroom, as says the wise man, a They that eat me shall yet be hungry, and they that drink me shall yet be thirsty." 2. Souls like these, that have a fervent and insatiable love for the Lord, are thought worthy of the redemption from vile affections, and receive the irradiation and presence of the Holy Spirit, which is unspeakable, and the mystical fellowship in the fullness of grace. But as many souls as are destitute of manly vigor and activity, are still but as in the flesh, having never entertained any hopes of receiving the sanctification of their heart through patience and long- suffering, nor of enjoying the fellowship of the Spirit, with the utmost sensation and assurance: these, after having been once thought worthy of Divine grace, have yet been insensibly circumvented by the evil one, and so have given themselves over to carelessness and remissness. And the reason is evident; after they have received the grace of the, Spirit, and actually enjoyed the comfort of grace in rest and spiritual sweetness, they trust in it; they are lifted up, and take no farther care, being neither of a contrite heart, nor humble mind; neither have they waited with all diligence and faith, to be perfectly filled with grace but instead of that, they were full, they were completely satisfied, and rested in the first consolation of grace. The progress such souls made tended more to elevation than humility; so that they were stripped again of that very gift, which before was vouchsafed to them, through their careless contempt of any thing farther, and the vain swelling of their own opinion.

3. The soul that is truly a lover of GOD, and a lover of CHRIST, though it does righteous works without number, demeans itself however, as if it had wrought just nothing at all, through the insatiable love it bears to the Lord. And though by fastings and by watchings it has even macerated the body, it applies itself to the pursuit of the virtues still, as if it never had begun before to take the least pains about them. Though it has been thought worthy of the several gifts of the Spirit, or favored with revelations and heavenly mysteries; yet, by reason of its immense love for the Lord, does it seem to itself as if it had just nothing in possession: but hungering and thirsting through faith and love, it is carried on insatiably in the persevering spirit of prayer-to the mysteries of grace, and to every degree of virtue. And being wounded by the heavenly Spirit, continually exciting an inflamed desire after the heavenly Bridegroom, and longing to be completely admitted to the mystical and inexpressible communion with him in the sanctification of the Spirit; having the face of the soul unveiled, and looking with a steady eye upon the heavenly Bridegroom, face to face, in the light which is spiritual, and not to be expressed; it mixes with him in all the fullness of assurance; becomes conformable to his death, ever waiting in the abundance of desire to die for the sake of CHRIST, and expecting to obtain, under the conduct of the Spirit, an entire redemption from sin, and the darkness of the affections that being purified by the Spirit, sanctified in soul and body, it may be made a vessel clean prepared for the susception of the heavenly ointment, and the residence of CHRIST, the true and heavenly King. And then is the soul filled with the heavenly life, and becomes the pure habitation of the Holy Spirit.

4. But these are heights which the soul does not reach all at once;, but through many labors and conflicts, with variety of trials and temptations, it receives spiritual growth and improvement, till at last it comes to an entire exemption from its old affections; holding out, with a cheerful and noble obstinacy against every succeeding temptation, it is then thought worthy of great honors and spiritual gifts, and becomes an inheritor of the heavenly kingdom in CHRIST JESUS our Lord to whom be glory for ever. Amen.


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