Letters of Elder Macarius of Optina

St. Macarius of Optina

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

+In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Glory to Thee, O Lord, Glory to Thee. Lord, our God, if I have sinned this day in any way, by word, deed or thought, forgive me everything as a Good and Loving God. Grant me a peaceful and undisturbed sleep; deliver me from every attack and influence of the Evil One. Raise me up at the appropriate time to glorify You, for You are Blessed, together with Your Only-begotten Son, and Your All-Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


[Saint Symeon the New Theologian]

"When the heart is praying, the mind must be within the heart to always revolve around it and protect it, and from there within, from the depths of the heart, the mind will offer up prayers to God. And when from within the depths of the heart the mind tastes and sees that the Lord is Good and delights therein, the mind will no longer wish to leave the place of the heart. And then the mind will want to say the same words spoken by the Apostle Peter: "It is good for us to be here" (St. Matthew 17:4).


[Saint Irenaios]

"To as many as continue in their love towards God, does He grant communion with Him. Now, communion with God is Life and Light and the enjoyment of all the benefits which He has in store. But on as many as depart from God, He inflicts separation from Himself, which they have chosen of their own accord. Now, separation from God is death, and separation from Light is darkness; and separation from God results in the loss of all benefits which He has in store. Now, as good things are Eternal and without end with God, so the loss of these is also eternal and never ending."



On February 13th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Our righteous Father Martinianus of Caesarea in Palestine; Holy Apostles and Martyrs Aquila and Priscila, disciples of Saint Paul; our Righteous Father Evlogius, Archbishop of Alexandria; two Saints, a father and his son, were perfected in martyrdom by crucifixion; our Righteous Father Symeon the Myrrh-streamer, founder of the venerable Monastery of Hilandar; Saint Modomnoc, Bishop of Ossory in Ireland.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Apostles, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Archbishops, Holy Bishops, O Christ Our God have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

OUR HOLY FATHER MARTINIANUS. The life of this Saint is wonderful beyond measure and is worth reading in full. What did he not endure to fulfill the Law of God? At the age of eighteen, he went off into a mountain in Cappadocia called the Ark and there spent 25 years in fasting, vigils and prayer, and struggling with manifold temptations. When a woman came to tempt him and he saw that he would fall into sin with her, he leapt barefoot into the fire and stood in it until the pain brought forth tears from his eyes and he had killed all lust within himself. When other temptations arose, he fled to a lonely rock in the sea and lived there. When, though, in a shipwreck, a woman swam to the rock, he leapt into the sea intending to drown himself. But a dolphin took him upon its back and brought him, by God's Providence, to the shore. He then decided to make nowhere his permanent home but to travel incessantly. Thus he passed through 164 towns in two years, exhorting and advising the people. He finally arrived in Athens, where he fell asleep in the Lord in the year 422 A.D.


Holy Epistle Lesson: I John 1:8-10; 2:1-6
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Mark 13:31-37; 14:1-2


"The brothers surrounded the same Abba (Father) John who was at the point of death and ready to depart eagerly and joyfully to God.  They asked him to leave them a concise and salutary saying as their inheritance, which would enable them to become perfect in Christ. Groaning he said to them, 'I have never done my own will, nor taught anything which I had not previously carried out.'" (The Sayings of the Desert Fathers)


On Dependence on grace

"When the enemy (Satan) inserts despair into your heart, conjuring up in your mind thoughts of past sins so black that there can be no hope of pardon, refrain from weighing your own merits against your sins. Think only of the merits of Christ our Lord: the only merits that afford our salvation. Remember, too, that Mother Church prays for all sinners, at every Divine Eucharist.

On Wealth

"In ancient times, following the call of God, many men left the world. Using, with God's help, the weapon of humility, and following, with God's help, a rule of life entirely shaped in view of one end, they overcame all needs of the flesh. Requiring nothing of the world, they sought no riches. But their virtue attracted crowds of others, who hoped to find the way to salvation under the guidance of those who had forsaken the world."

On the Passions

"Our passions are indeed our most pitiless tormentors. So unrelenting are they even the humbled sinner who, having recognized them for what they are, wishes to free himself of their domination and decides to leave them and face the light, even though he is still tormented and tortured by their murky brood. They pursue him long."

On Anger

"Guard against despondency. Courageously fight your fits of rage; never despair of overcoming them. This rage is one of your worst passions, but you could not wish to cure yourself of it if you did not see it. Therefore, the children who call forth these fits are God's instruments for your correction. Thank them for it, in the core of your heart."

On Pride

"Saint John Climacus relates that a saintly old Egoumenos (Abbot) once set about curing one of his spiritual sons of the vice of pride. When the old man (Gerondas) at last ceased speaking, the young one meekly remarked, 'Forgive me, Father, but of this vice of pride there is no trace in me.' To which the old man retorted, 'And what do you think could better prove its hold on you than these proud words, advanced so meekly?'"

On Prayer

"Be sure that when, in solitude, you pray in a manner which calls forth the sweetness and the tears that you delight in, God is ill pleased. Be sure that sweetness and tears, unaccompanied by a sense of the deepest humility, are nothing but temptations. Pray simply. Do not expect to find in your heart remarkable gift of prayer. Consider yourself unworthy of it  Then you will find peace. Use the empty cold dryness of your prayer as food for your humility. Repeat constantly: I am not worthy; Lord, I am not worthy! But say it calmly, without agitation. This humble prayer, unlike the sweet one you delight in, will be acceptable to God."

Illusion on Prayer

"As you advance in prayer and spiritual reading, the tempter incessantly warring against you invents more subtle forms of guile. You say that, lately, you often sense the presence of our Lord in your room; then, filled with a joyous tremor, you must fall on the ground at His feet. Your descriptions show that you imagine you see Him as a physical form, physically present in your room: a most dangerous illusion! So are those which you describe as the presence of your guardian Angel and of this or that Saint, and all you say of your intercourse with them. Saint Paul says that Satan can fashion himself into an Angel of Light. Satan dos this in order to confuse and confound the inexperienced, and the Fathers are emphatic in guarding beginners against placing any faith at all in such illusions. It is particularly dangerous for you."

On Vainglory

"Vainglory and pride are very like each other. But vainglory incites us to show off our piety or intelligence and to put much store by the opinion others hold of us; it makes us love praise and go out of our way to get it, and fills us with false shame; whereas pride is chiefly manifested through anger and embarrassment, through the despising, condemnation, and humiliation of others, and through holding oneself-one's own actions and achievements-in high esteem. Pride has made great men-men spiritually great-fall very low. All human misfortunes and all un-Christian actions spring from pride; all good comes from humility."


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George