St. Macarius the Great on Apophatacism

The following quotation and icon were originally post by Moses at The Burning Bush. Thank you Moses.

But if man were to begin to investigate the mind of God and say: “I have discovered something and truly understand it,” the human mind would be found transcending the mind of God. Truly you wander far into error in such thinking. For the more you wish through knowledge to search and penetrate God, the more deeply you descend away from him and you comprehend nothing.

Those visits of God to you that happen each day, they are so mysterious and incomprehensible. You can receive them only with gratitude and belief. Have you been able to know your own soul from the moment of your birth until now? Tell me, then, from morning to night what are the thoughts that spring up in you? Tell me your thoughts over three consecutive days. If, then, you cannot understand the thoughts of your own soul, how can you scrutinize the thoughts of God and his very mind?

St. Macarius the Great in Fifty Spiritual Homilies.



  1. Karen Armstrong in her latest book The Case for God says that the western church started going off the rails theologically when it got away from the apophaticism of the eastern churches. I don’t always agree with Armstrong, but on this issue I think she’s right on target.


    1. Joe, I agree – we need to recover apophatacism, mystery, and a deeper sacramental understanding. All those point to and carry us to the interior life. Good to hear from you. Peace, Mike


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