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HOMILIES ST ISAAC First Epistle Saint Makarios   2/12/2020 12:00 πμ
Makarios The Great). [451]










APPENDIX C – The First Syriac Epistle of Saint Makarios of Egypt.

(Translated from the Syriac text edition by W. Strothmann in Die syrische Uberlieferung der Schriften des Makarios 1 (Wiesbaden, 1981) pp. 74-84).




Abba Makarios writes to all his beloved sons, exhorting and greeting them before all else. When a man wishes to know himself, to seek God, and to repent of what he has done in the time when he was heedless, God by His grace gives him sorrow over his former deeds.

Hereafter God, in His tender mercy, gives him bodily hardship through fasting and vigil, through a multitude of many prayers and renunciation of the world. And he grants him to bear abuse, to despise bodily comforts, and to love weeping more than laughter.

After this a man is given mourning, weeping, humility of heart and of body, and the ability not to see another man's failings, but only his own. Further he is granted to recollect the day of his departure from this world and how he must needs come before God, to have always before his eyes the torments to come, and to have depicted before his heart the glory and honor which those who love God will receive.



But though God delights him with these things, He also puts him once more to the test, whether he will abstain from his own wishes and will stand up against things that make war with his heart, the same which formerly defeated him. Then he will be given the ability to vanquish the pleasure of diverse foods which make the heart impotent, such that he cannot complete his brief fast. The demons place before a man's eyes the weakness of his body and the length of the time, saying: 'How long can you endure this labor? Your body is weak, and great labor is required of a man to have God dwelling in him, and especially in you, who have committed many sins. How many of these will God forgive you?'




[452]

But if they surmise that his heart has not accepted their words, they come again to the man under various pretexts of righteousness, saying, 'Although you have sinned, you repented of your sins.' Then they cause him to remember certain men who sinned and did not repent, thus sowing vainglory in his soul.

Not only this do they do, but they also cause men to give him empty honor. They advise him to undertake works that surpass his strength to bear, sowing in his heart thoughts of asceticism, vigil, and of many other things that are outside due order, which I am unable to enumerate, and they represent to him that they are easily accomplished.

This they do hoping to be able by these things to turn him aside, as it is said in the Proverbs, 'Turn not aside, neither to the right hand nor to the left' (Proverbs 4:27).






Now if the good God sees that a man's heart has not inclined to any of these things (as David said, indicating the same, 'Thou hast proved my heart, Thou hast visited it in the night, Thou hast tried me by fire, and unrighteousness was not found in me' (Psalms 16:3)), then God will help him and deliver him. Why does he say 'in the night' and not 'in the day'? Because the enemy's deceptions are a night, as Paul also said, 'We are not children of the night but children of the day' (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:5), since the Son of God is the Day, but Satan is night.

But if the heart traverses these warfares, the demons begin to war against him with fornication and lust for men. By these conflicts the heart is weakened, such that the work of preserving chastity seems extremely difficult to him and he thinks that he will be unable to do it. They beset him with the length of time and the toil of this virtue, saying, 'There is much work in preserving this', and they bring bodily infirmity upon him.



If the heart is frightened by these things, and is enfeebled by these warfares, then the merciful God sends to him a holy power and steadies his heart. God gives him weeping, consolation, and repose of heart, such that he becomes stronger than his enemies and they dare not afflict him, being afraid of the power that dwells in him (Cf. Homily 39; 'On the Second Method of the Devil's Warfare'). This also Paul says, 'Strive, and ye shall receive power.' This is the power concerning which Peter spoke, saying, 'An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith' (1 Peter 1:4-5).

Afterward, when the good God sees that a man's heart has been strengthened against the enemy, He takes away the [aforesaid] power from time to time. He permits that enemies be loosed upon him to strive with him through licentiousness, the pleasures of the eyes, vainglory, and pride. Thus a man becomes like a ship without a rudder drifting and striking hither and thither.

Now when the heart is weakened and enervated by these things, the good God once again cares for His creation and sends him again that holy power. Thus he braces his






[453]

heart, soul, body, and the rest of his members under the yoke of the Comforter, as our Lord said, 'Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart' (Matthew 11:29).

Then the good God begins to open the eyes of a man's heart to enable him to know that He is the man's Helper (Literally; Supporter). Hereafter the man knows to render honor unto God with much humility and with a contrite spirit, as David says, 'A sacrifice unto God is a humble spirit' (Psalms 50 (51):17 in the Peshitta). For it is by the labors of these warfares that the heart acquires humility and contrition.

Then this power begins to reveal heavenly things before the heart, and how one should chant hymns, and what future honors are to be received by those who have persevered. It reveals to him that however many labors a man accomplishes, they are small in comparison with that which God will bestow on him, as the Apostle says in Scripture, 'The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us' (Romans 8:18). Further this power begins to reveal the torments of those who are tormented and many other things whereof I cannot now speak, because it is not the time to speak of them all.



Then the Comforter sets rules (or boundaries) for the heart of the pure soul, such that a man places himself beneath all creation, such that he does not look at the iniquities of men, that he gazes straight ahead with his eyes, that he keeps guard over his tongue,




that he stretches out his foot straight before him and applies his hands to righteousness, that he abides continually in prayer, that he is humble of body, and that he is persistent in vigil. These he places in a man with measure and discernment; not with confusion, but with good order.

If, however, the mind despises these commandments and rules of the Spirit, the [holy] power forsakes the man. Then the heart will undergo warfare and confusion, and the passions of the body will trouble him through the motions sown by his enemies.

But if the heart turns back and lays hold of the commandments of the Spirit given in a man's behalf, then he will know that constant abidance with God is itself his rest, even as David said, 'I cried unto Thee, and Thou hast healed me' (Psalms 29:2).

It is, however, my opinion that unless a man acquires great humility in his heart and his body, reckons himself as nothing, sets reproach at naught, constrains himself, holds death before his eyes day in and day out, and renounces all fleshly things, he cannot lay hold of the commandments of the Spirit.

[[Understanding cannot enter you unless you practice stillness. Stillness gives

birth to




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offspring amid afflictions. Afflictions beget diligence. Diligence begets weeping. Weeping begets fear. Fear begets humility. Humility begets a man's vision of God. Vision begets love. And love begets health of soul. Whoever wishes to enter into these good things must pray without ceasing, prepare his soul for death, weep and mourn, determine what separates him from God and desist from it, and must hate the world and all that is in it. Then God's grace will gladly receive him]], (The passage in double brackets is found only in two Syriac MSS and is lacking in the Greek).






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HOMILIES ST ISAAC FROM THE SEVENTH CENTURY
-FROM THE SEVENTH CENTURY.

7:1The noetic renewal of the saints is the crown of the intellect and the understanding which have communion with God through the revelation of His glorious mysteries, but the universal renewal is the general resurrection of all.
HOMILIES ST ISAAC FROM THE SEVENTH CENTURY
HOMILIES ST ISAAC Epistle to Abba Symeon


Part II – An Epistle to Abba Symeon of Caesarea.
(The Greek printed text addresses this epistle to Symeon the Wonderworker, while the Greek manuscripts have Abba Symeon of Caesarea. Judging merely by the content of the epistle it seems most unlikely that it was written to Saint Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain (Near Antioch) who is also called the Wonderworker).

Your Epistle, O Holy Man, is not simply written words, but as in a mirror you have depicted therein and made manifest your love for us. As you think us to be, so have you written; and you have shown by your very actions that you love us exceedingly, so that on account of your great love, you forget our measure. For that which it were meet for us to write to your holiness and to ask, so as to learn the truth from you (if we were solicitous over our own salvation), this you have anticipated and written to us by reason of the magnitude of your love. But probably you did this with the art of [[divine]] philosophy, so that by means of the subtle and spiritual questions you ask me, my soul

HOMILIES ST ISAAC Epistle to Abba Symeon
HOMILIES ST ISAAC First Epistle Saint Makarios
Makarios The Great). [451]



APPENDIX C – The First Syriac Epistle of Saint Makarios of Egypt.
(Translated from the Syriac text edition by W. Strothmann in Die syrische Uberlieferung der Schriften des Makarios 1 (Wiesbaden, 1981) pp. 74-84).

Abba Makarios writes to all his beloved sons, exhorting and greeting them before all else. When a man wishes to know himself, to seek God, and to repent of what he has done in the time when he was heedless, God by His grace gives him sorrow over his former deeds.
Hereafter God, in His tender mercy, gives him bodily hardship through fasting and vigil, through a multitude of many prayers and renunciation of the world. And he grants him to bear abuse, to despise bodily comforts, and to love weeping more than laughter.
After this a man is given mourning, weeping, humility of heart and of body, and the ability not to see another man's failings, but only his own. Further he is granted to recollect the day of his departure from this world and how he must needs come before God, to have always before his eyes the torments to come, and to have depicted before his heart the glory and honor which those who love God will receive.
HOMILIES ST ISAAC First Epistle Saint Makarios
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