on May 1. 2010.
on May 1. 2010.
Elder Macarius's face was scarred by smallpox, he stuttered and was always poorly dressed, but he was distinguished by a very refined personality. He was born to a landed gentry family, loved music and was a talented violinist. After some years' experience in the world as a bookkeeper, in 1818 he entered upon the monastic path at the Ploshchansk Hermitage. There he formed ties with Elder Leonid and followed him to Optina.
With Elder Leonid's repose, the burden of the spiritual guidance of the skete fell to Elder Macarius. He was soft-spoken and emanated a quiet joy in the Lord. Like Elder Leonid, he used his gift of spiritual discernment to work numerous healings, especially of the demon-possessed. He also carried on a tremendous correspondence: his letters of counsel fill two volumes, each numbering a thousand pages.
Elder Macarius did not tolerate idleness among the brethren. He introduced various handcrafts: bookbinding and woodworking. He also adorned the skete with mass planting of flowers. His greatest contribution to Optina, however, was to initiate its work of publishing patristic texts. This was historically significant, since Peter's reforms had greatly curtailed such activity, which subsequent laws restricted to ecclesiastical print shops. The result was that many works of Holy Fathers existed only in manuscript form or in very limited editions. Meanwhile, the secular press was churning out translations of mystical-philosophical works from the West, some of them plainly hostile to Orthodoxy. With the blessing and earnest support of Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, and the active collaboration of the Orthodox writer and philosopher Ivan Kireyevsky, Elder Macarius began meticulously editing manuscripts translated from the Greek by Paisius Velichkovsky, which he had acquired in Ploshchansk, and other patristic manuscripts donated by various individuals, thus launching an undertaking which, in 50 years, produced more than 125 books in 225,090 copies. These were sent to libraries and seminaries all over Russia, putting into circulation the works of St. Isaac the Syrian, St. Symeon the New Theologian, St. Nilus of Sora, Elder Paisius (Velichkovsky), and others, and inspiring a growing circle of religiously inclined intelligentsia.
Counsels of Elder Macarius
“To your question as to what constitutes happiness in life—whether it is grandeur, glory and wealth, or a quiet, peaceful family life—I will tell you that I agree with the latter, and I will also add that a life spent with a pure conscience and with humility brings peace, tranquility, and true happiness, while wealth, honors, glory, and high position are often the cause of many sins and do not bring happiness.
“People for the most part desire and seek well-being in this life, and tend to avoid sorrows. This seems to be good and pleasant, but constant well-being and happiness are harmful to a person. He falls into various passions and sins and offends the Lord, while those who lead a life of sorrow attain salvation, and for this reason the Lord has called a merry life the broad path: For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat (Mt. 7:13), while the life of sorrow He called strait: Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Mt. 7:14). Thus, out of His love for us and seeing its possible benefit for those who are worthy of it, the Lord leads many people away from the broad path and places them on the narrow and sorrowful path, in order to arrange their salvation through their endurance of illnesses and sorrows, and to grant them eternal life.”
“You not only wish to be good and not do anything bad, but you also wish to see yourself as such. The desire is laudable, but the wish to see one’s own good qualities provides food for vanity. Even if we acted sincerely and correctly in all things, we still would have to regard ourselves as unworthy servants. However, being faulty in all things, we must not consider ourselves to be good even in our thoughts. For this reason we are embarrassed instead of being humble. For this reason God does not give us strength for the execution of things, in order for us not to have pride in ourselves, but to attain humility. And when we do attain it, then our virtues will be strong and will not allow us to be vain.”
“We, weak-minded people, thinking to arrange our possessions, bustle around, despair, deprive ourselves of rest, only in order to leave our children a good estate. But do we know whether it will be of benefit to them? A foolish son is not helped by wealth—it only serves to lead him into immorality. We must concern ourselves with leaving our children the good example of our lives and rearing them in the fear of God and His commandments—that is their primary treasure. When we seek the Kingdom of God and His truth, all that is needful here will also be added (cf. Mt. 6:33). You will say: but we cannot do this, the modern world requires different things now! All right, but have you borne your children for this world only, and not for the hereafter? Comfort yourself with the word of God: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. (Jn. 15:18), while the carnal mind is enmity against God. It is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (cf. Rm. 8:7). Do not desire earthly glory for your children, but that they may be good people and obedient children, and when God grants it—kind spouses and tender parents, concerned for those serving them, loving to all, and tolerant of their enemies.”
“You wish to get nearer to God and attain salvation. That is the responsibility of all Christians, but it is done only through the keeping of God’s commandments, which consist entirely of love for God and neighbors, and even stretch to love for one’s enemies. Read the Gospel and there you will find the way, the truth, and the life; preserve the Orthodox faith and the canons of the Holy Church; study the instructions contained in the writings of church pastors and teachers, and arrange you life according to these teachings. However, rules of prayer alone will not help us do good… I advise you to pay as much attention as possible to works of love for your neighbors, to your relations with parents, spouses, and children, and try to bring up your children in the Orthodox faith and good morality. The holy Apostle Paul, enumerating the different types of virtues and labors of self-sacrifice, says: “Even if I do such-and-such, but have no love, there is no benefit to me.”
- Part 3 - (mp3)
In this third group of sermons on the holy Book of Revelation Fr. Athanasios Mitilinaios analyzes the following scriptural issues:
- The Lampstands and the7 Stars A
- The Lampstands and the7 Stars B
- The Church of Ephesus
- The Church of Ephesus B
- The Churches of Ephesus and Smyrna
- The Churches of Ephesus and Smyrna B
- The Church of Smyrna A
- The Church of Smyrna B
and pray to God for me, to give my wretched soul salvation.
Believe me, all of you, my brethren, truly I'll explain,
in me is found abundantly the works I now will name.
If you would like to know which virtues I have called my own,
I'll tell you: naked is my soul of good in every form.
Utterly devoid of virtue, sentenced to be damned,
and by every purity most utterly abandoned.
Poverty past bounds is mine, and wounds and ill diseases,
and being lost forever in the folds of death's deep creases.
Severe insentitivity and stupor overcome me,
anger, pride, hard-heartedness and evil have undone me.
To virtue I am cold as ice, but warm to wickedness,
always ready for laughter's lure and for talkativeness.
Instead of being compunctionate I'm totally unfeeling,
instead of weeping constantly, I laugh, the wretched worldling!
But there is something yet, that hides so perfectly these evils.
How long will I so fool the world, though I am like the devils,
with my false piety, fake virtue and hypocrisy?
When the world regards me highly, I rejoice and boast,
but when they criticise me, even kindly, I am sad, and mope.
Whomever of you knows me, I exhort you to feel piety,
and when reminded of me, weep for my iniguity.
Beg our God that someday He enlightenment will send me;
and by your prayers, my brethren, I hope that He will save me,
and from my somber wickedness and evil, He will free me.
Prayer is trusting God. When your trust is completely in God, it is not even necessary to pray for something, for God takes over. It's just that one ought to wait with patience for
the fruit to ripen and fall off the tree. Therefore, parents, trust your children in God.
For you have given them only your flesh, but God has created their souls. So He is obliged to take care of them.
Another elder offered the following thoughts:
A child needs a lot of guidance and love. Watching television is destructive.
A man gives his flesh to his child. God creates a child's soul. When a child grows up, the parents are not responsible for him any longer. God assigns a guardian angel to every person born, to help him through his entire life. Therefore should we not trust in God ourselves?
You ought to help your children to a point. Beyond that, leave them under God's care. Their guardian angel is al- ways by them. One might say, 'If a person yields to temptation, his guardian angel stays away. But the angel does not despair; he stands nearby. Even when one goes astray, still God through the guardian angel sends good thoughts to that person.
We should not distance ourselves from God, for that is so painful. The guardian angel tries throughout one's life to introduce good thoughts, waits and suffers, is saddened when a man commits a sin, and stands before God empty-handed. Let us think about that! That alone creates such pain! If for only this reason, one should not distance himself from God's presence by refusing to do His will. Some angels with some effort, and some with none at all, present a man's soul to God. But other angels with great effort, torment and suffering come before God empty-handed. It is so painful. Imagine! It is worthwhile for one to strive with dignity so that his guardian angel might not be hurt. There are many people who have seen their guardian angel. If only one can see his angel, he will not ask for anything else. When we see little infants smile when sleeping, it is because they see their angel.
You ought to teach small children how to pray, for God answers their prayers. The children's prayer ought to enter their hearts. There is no benefit from a prayer unless it is from the depth of one's heart.
Try to help children when they are small with kindness, so that they experience a deeper meaning of life. Always treat them with kindness.
To his visitors an experienced ascetic gave good advice on raising children:
I am still sad because I did not go to confession until I was eighteen years old. I am still sad about it. When a child is about six to seven, it is time to see a spiritual father. Let it be so.
So, as soon as you return to your homes from the Holy Mountain, pay attention to your children, catechize them, and guard them, especially with your prayers. Pray as Patriarch Jacob prayed for his children. Pray like this 'Holy Theotokos, protect, help and oversee my children.' Also cross yourselves while praying and chant a hymn to Panagia. Watch over them. Make sure you know where they go at night and with whom they keep company. For bad company destroys good morals. Your child might be good, but someone else's might be a bad influence on him. This is my advice to all lay people.
After Sept. 11th, one company invited the remaining members of other companies who had been decimated by the attack on the Twin Towers to share their available office space.
At a morning meeting, the head of security told stories of why these people were alive... and all the stories were just about:
the 'L I T T L E' things.
As you might know, the head of the company survived
because that day his son started kindergarten.
Another fellow was alive because it was
his turn to bring donuts.
One woman was late because her
alarm clock didn't go off in time.
One was late because of being stuck on the NJ Turnpike
because of an auto accident.
One of them
missed his bus.
One spilled food on her clothes and had to take
time to change.
car wouldn't start.
One went back to
answer the telephone.
One had a
child that dawdled
One man was delayed by
A faulty traffic light
and didn't get ready as soon as he should have.
get a taxi.
The one that struck me was the man
who put on a new pair of shoes that morning,
took the various means to get to work
but before he got there, he developed
a blister on his foot.
He stopped at a drugstore to buy a Band-Aid.
That is why he is alive today.
Now when I am
stuck in traffic,
miss an elevator,
turn back to answer a ringing telephone...
all the little things that annoy me.
I think to myself,
this is exactly where
God wants me to be at this very moment..
So, the next time your morning seems to be
the children are slow getting dressed,
you can't seem to find the car keys,
you hit every red traffic light,
the traffic is slow for no reason;you pick the wrong lane and its not moving;
Don't get mad or frustrated;
God is at work watching over you.
May God continue to bless you
with all those annoying little things