Macarius3What shall God do with him that gives himself up to the world, and is deceived by the pleasures of it, or drawn away with the hurry of earthly distractions?

The man upon whom he bestows the succors of his grace, is he who divorces himself from gross pleasures.

At all times forcibly urges his mind towards the Lord, both denying himself, and seeking after the Lord only.

This is the person whom God takes into his special care. He keeps himself disentangled from the snares of this world; that “works out his salvation with fear and trembling”.

With the utmost heed he passes through all the toils of the world, both seeking after the Lord for his assistance, and hoping in his mercy to be saved through grace.

Iron, or lead, or gold, or silver, when cast into the fire is freed from that hard consistency which is natural to it, being changed into softness, and so long as it continues in the fire, is still dissolved from its native hardness…

After the same manner the soul that has renounced the world, and fixed its desires only upon the Lord, and has received that heavenly fire of the Godhead, and of the love of the Spirit, is disentangled from all love of the world, and set free from all the corruption of the affections.

It turns all things out of itself, and is changed from the hardness of sin, and melted down in a fervent and unspeakable love for that heavenly Bridegroom alone, whom it has received.

But I tell you, that if these very brethren, so much desired by him, draw back from that love, he too is turned away from them.

For that very thing is the soul’s life and refreshment – namely, the hidden and unspeakable communion of the heavenly King.

The love of that fellowship which is in the flesh [i.e. marriage] causes a separation from father, mother, and brethren, and sets one at liberty from all love besides.

How much more shall they, as many as have been thought worthy to partake of that Holy Spirit, who is the heavenly object of our love, come entirely off from the love of the world?

How much more shall all things else appear to them as impertinent superfluities, in that they have been perfectly overcome with heavenly desire…?

There are their desires, there are their thoughts employed.

There do they live, there do their thoughts rove up and down; there is the mind continually taken up, being overcome with divine and heavenly love, and spiritual desire.

Macarius the Egyptian (c. 300-391); Spiritual Homily 3, 1-3, trans. by the Revd D.R. Jenning (with slight adaptations) @ Patristics in English Project.