LENTEN FIRE: March 21

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers 

Abba Macarius welcomes rebuke

It was said about Abba Macarius that if a brother came to him fearfully as though to a saint and great old man, he would say nothing to him.  But if one of the brothers heaped scorn on him, saying, “My father, when you were a camel-driver and stole nitre and sold it, didn’t the guards beat you?”  If someone said these words to him, he would speak with him with joy about whatever he asked him.

Imitate the dead

A brother paid a visit to Abba Macarius and said to him, “Tell me a word: How can I be saved?”

The old man said to him, “Go to the tombs.  Curse the dead.  Throw rocks at them.”

The brother left.  He cursed the dead and threw rocks at them, and when he returned to the old man, the old man said to him, “They didn’t say anything to you, did they?”

The brother said to him, “No, my father.”

The old man said to him, “Go tomorrow and glorify them, saying, ‘You are apostles, you are saints and righteous.'”

He returned to the old man and said to him, “I glorified them.”

The old man said to him, “They didn’t say anything to you, did they?”

He said, “No.”

The old man said to him, “You have seen how you cursed them and they did not say anything to you, and how you glorified them and they did not respond at all.  It should be the same with you, too: if you wish to be saved, go, be dead, having no regard for people’s contempt nor for their honors, like the dead,, and you can be saved.”

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