Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spiritual Instructions of Elder Macarius, by One of His Spiritual Children

"Whatever Fr. Macarius advised, he always put humility at the forefront of his counsels; from that virtue he brought forth all the subsequent virtues which make up the character of a true Christian. Here is the essence of the lessons Fr. Macarius taught to all who thirsted for his instructions and edification: to examine your conscience; to continually struggle with your passions; to cleanse your soul of sins; to love God in the simplicity of your heart; to believe in Him without calculating; to have unceasingly before you His limitless mercy, and with all the strength of your soul to praise Him and bless Him in all of life's unpleasant circumstances; to look for your own guilt, and forgive any trespass of your neighbor against you in order to obtain God's forgiveness for your sins; to try to establish love for your neighbor in yourself; to preserve peace and tranquility in your family and acquaintances; to recall more often the commandments of God and to try to fulfill them, as well as the decrees of the Church; if possible, to go to confession and partake of the Holy Mysteries several times a year; to observe all four fast periods, as well as Wednesdays and Fridays; to attend Vigil and Liturgy on every feast day; to say morning and evening prayers and even a few psalms every day, and, if time allows, to read a chapter of the Gospels or the Epistles of the Apostle; to pray every morning and evening for the repose of the departed and the salvation of the living, and, at the beginning of this prayer, to pray with reverence for the Sovereign Tsar and all the Royal Family. If, under whatever circumstances, then reproach yourself so as to sincerely repent, and make a firm resolve not to fail likewise in the future. Pray even for those against whom you bear some ill will, for this is the surest means toward reconciliation in Christ."

For most of us, this is the kind of instruction we need. Reading lofty passages from the fathers and trying to practice advanced forms of prayer will only wear most of us out or lead us to delusion. I have found this passage extremely useful and hope that others will as well. It is taken, as so many of my posts, from an appendix to "Elder Macarius of Optina" published by St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood. In case you have not heard me say this before, I cannot recommend the Optina elders series enough. Of course, as in all things, ask and respect the wishes of your spiritual fathers.

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