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The Egypts Desert Fathers – Humility

March 31st, 2009 by Fr. Vasile

st_macarius_the_greatAn old man was asked What is humility? and he said in reply Humility is a great work and a work of God. The way of humility is to undertake bodily labour and believe yourself a sinner and make yourself subject to all. Then a brother said What does it mean to be subject to all? The old man answered To be subject to all is not to give your attention to the sins of others but always to give your attention to your own sins and to pray without ceasing to God.

An old man said Every time a thought of superiority or vanity moves you examine your conscience to see if you have kept all the commandments whether you love your enemies whether you consider yourself to be an unprofitable servant and the greatest sinner of all. Even so do not pretend to great ideas as though you were perfectly right for that thought destroys everything.

As abba Macarius was returning to his cell from the marsh carrying palm-leaves the devil met him with a sharp sickle and would have struck him but he could not. He cried out Great is the violence I suffer from you Macarius for when I want to hurt you I cannot. But whatever you do I do and more also. You fast now and then but I am never refreshed by any food; you often keep vigil but I never fall asleep. Only in one thing are you better than I am and I acknowledge that. Macarius said to him What is that? and he replied It is because of your humility alone that I cannot overcome you.

The old men used to say When we do not experience warfare we ought so much the more to humiliate ourselves. For God seeing our weakness protects us; when we glorify ourselves he withdraws his protection and we are lost.

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  • What I read gave me a great lesson;I know Ive never been humble

    in my life. I am a stubborn person but I always pray to be humble…

    Pray for me

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