The Motif of Light and Darkness in the Mysticism of Pseudo-Macarius

Andrzej Uciecha


The aim of this article was to familiarize the reader with the imagery of light, particularly its role in the development of ascetic discipline and early Christian mysticism. The vehicle for this exploration is an analysis of selected texts from the spiritual collection of the monk and hermit Pseudo-Macarius (Symeon of Mesopotamia). In Macarius’s theology of light one may find clear references to the thought of Origen, as well as the influence of other Church writers representing the heritage of both Greek Alexandrian tradition and Syrian thought. The theological message of Symeon of Mesopotamia should be read in the pneumatological context. The fundamental truth of his spiritual homilies is communion in Holy Spirit and the reception of His fullness. In the article, the author seeks to elucidate and interpret the spiritual tradition known to researchers as une mystique pneumatique. The homilies of Macarius significantly contributed to the dissemination of this pneumatological mysticism throughout the Greek and later Byzantine world. The interesting apologetic themes appear on the margins of the main subject of the works and are very superficially discussed in the context of the general polemics with heresies.


Pseudo-Macarius, Symeon of Mesopotamia, early Christian mysticism, light and darkness, pneumatology

Baehrens W.A. (red.), Origenes Werke (GCS 8; Leipzig: J.C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1925).

Collectio I: Sermones LXIV Makarios/Symeon. Reden und Briefe, Die Sammlung I des Vaticanus Graecus 694. I. Logoi 1-29; II. Logoi 30-64 (red. H. Berthold) (GCS I/1-2; Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1973).

Collectio II: Homiliae spiritales Die 50 geistlichen Homilien des Makarios (red. H. Dörries – E. Klostermann – H.M. Kroeger) (PTS 4; Berlin: De Gruyter, 1964 ) (PG 34, 449-822).

Collectio III: Sermones XLIII Neue Homilien des Makarius/Symeon (red. E.Klostermann – H. Berthold) (TU 72; Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1961) = Pseudo-Macaire, Oeuvres spirituelles. I. Homélies propres à la Collection III (tł. V. Desprez) (SCh 275; Paris: Cerf, 1980).

Collectio IV: ms. Parisinus Graecus 973 (X) [26 Logoi powtórzone w Collectio I] = 150 chaptires de saint Macaire (tł. J. Touraille) (Philocalie des Pères Neptiques 5; Bellefontaine: Abbaye de Bellefontaine, 1984).

Grzegorz z Nyssy, Homilie do Pieśni nad Pieśniami (tł., wstęp, przypisy M. Przyszychowska) (ŹMT 43; Kraków: WAM, 2007).

Grzegorz z Nyssy, In Canticum Canticorum (red. H. Langerbeck) (Gregorii Nysseni Opera 6; Leiden: Brill, 1960).

Grzegorz z Nyssy, In Canticum Canticorum Homiliae. Hom. 2 (PG 44, 805 CD. 808B).

Orygenes, Komentarz do Pieśni nad Pieśniami (Orygenes, Komentarz do Pieśni nad Pieśniami. Homilie o Pieśni nad Pieśniami [tł. S. Kalinkowski] [Kraków: WAM, 1994]).

Pseudo-Macarius, The Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter (red. G.A. Maloney) (New York: Paulist Press, 1992).

Pseudo-Makary/Symeon Egipski, „Homilia IV (49). Chrześcijanie powinni z gorliwością i roztropnością biec w wyścigu życia na arenie tego świata (Collectio I et II, CPG 2410 et 2411: Cursum stadii huius mundi attente et accurante absolvere oportet christianos)” (tłum. A. Jasiewicz), Vox Patrum 30/55 (2010) 903-917. DOI:

Strothmann W. (red.), Die syrische Überlieferung der Schriften des Makarios. I-II. Syrischer Text und Übersetzung (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1981).

Strothmann W. (red.), Schriften des Makarios/Symeon unter dem Namen des Ephraem (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1981).

Crouzel H., Orygenes (tłum. J. Margański) (Bydgoszcz: Homini, 1996).

Deschepper J.-P., [rec.] „Pseudo-Macaire, Oeuvres spirituelles. I. Homélies propres à la Collection III (wstęp, tł. i komentarz V. Desprez) (SCh 275; Paris: Cerf, 1980)”, Revue Philosophique de Louvain. Quatrième Série 82/54 (1984) 269-270.

Desprez V., Początki monastycyzmu (tł. J. Dembska) (ŹM 22; Kraków: Tyniec, 1999).

Guillaumont A., „Situation et signification du ‘Liber Graduum’ dans la spiritualité syriaque”, Symposium Syriacum 1972, célébré dans les jours 26-31 octobre 1972 à l’Institut Pontifical Oriental de Rome. Rapports et Communications (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 197; Rome: Pontificium Institutum Orientalium Studiorum, 1974) 311-322.

Gribomont J., „Macaire (Syméon)”, Dictionnaire encyclopédique du christianisme ancien (red. A. Di Berardino) (Paris: Cerf, 1990) II, 1509-1510.

Miquel P., „Les caractères de l’expérience spirituelle selon le Pseudo-Macaire”, Irénikon 39 (1966) 497-513.

Maloney G.A., Why Not Become Totally Fire? Power of Fiery Prayer (New York and Mahawah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1989).

Przeździecki J., „Anapausis w pismach Pseudo-Makarego”, Vox Patrum 28/52 (2008) 893-906.

Szczur P., „Symeon z Mezopotamii, Makary z Mezopotamii, Pseudo-Makary”, Encyklopedia katolicka (red. E. Giglewicz et al.) (Lublin: Towarzystwo Naukowe KUL, 2013) XVIII, 1308-1310.

Klostermann R.A., Die slavische Überlieferung der Makariusschriften (Göteborg: Elander, 1950).


Uciecha, A. (2016). The Motif of Light and Darkness in the Mysticism of Pseudo-Macarius. Verbum Vitae, 29, 297–319.

Andrzej Uciecha


The author(s) grant (s) to the Licensee a non-exclusive and royalty-free license in accordance with the provisions of the Appendix: LICENSE TO USE THE WORK