Spiritual Gifts

Optina Patericon


You write that you are sorry that you have no tears to cleanse away your sins. Tears are a gift of God, which like all spiritual gifts are born from humility. But seeking untimely exalted spiritual gifts without first purifying oneself or preparing oneself for them through humble activity, fulfilling Christ’s divine commandments and patiently enduring sorrows, is not only useless—even worse, it is harmful…

I will also tell you not to seek lofty gifts, spiritual exaltation and consolations—they are granted according to the measure of our humility. Is it possible for us to enter the Heavenly Bridal Chamber and delight in His supper while we are wearing an unclean tunic of the passions? Let us cleanse it with repentance and humility, and leave it up to God’s will, when it will please Him to lead us into His Chamber; but we shall consider ourselves unworthy of it…

Although you sometimes have consoling feelings and tears, you should not rely on them or consider them anything great. Rather humble yourself even more, supposing that you are not worthy to be given such things. The higher were the lives of holy fathers, the more they denigrated and humbled themselves, and their humility drew even more of God’s grace and gifts …

Perhaps you are troubled that you find no lofty feelings of love and contrition during prayer. These and similar feelings are gifts or rewards from the Lord to the worthy and humble. But we see from examples that many who have received gifts and enjoyed them to their satisfaction… then fell because of their pride, or what is even more dangerous, became deluded by their change for the better or holiness, lost their minds and became incurable in that delusion. Pride steals upon one so subtly that it is hardly noticed… it is untimely to give [spiritual gifts] before the time—it would not bring benefit, only destruction.

St. Macarius of Optina
Translation by Nun Cornelia (Rees)



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