Featured Saint 12/1/22

St Macarius the Great

Claim to fame: St. Abba Macarius the Great (295-392 A.D.; also known as Macarius of Egypt) was among the most authoritative Desert Fathers of Egypt, and a disciple of St. Anthony the Great.

“Fifty spiritual homilies” of St. Macarius of Egypt is an authoritative patristic source. “The Homilies are well described as “spiritual” Homilies. That is their purpose and their character. They are not dogmatic; they are not controversial; they are not expository; they are not concerned with the politics or the expansion of the church; they have little to say about the Christian’s duty to his fellow-men. They have but one object, to help to bring individual souls to God in perfect self-subdual and absolute devotion.

The current Coptic Orthodox Monastery of St. Macarius the Great, which lies in Wadi Natrun, the ancient Scetis, 92 kilometers from Cairo on the western side of the desert road to Alexandria, was founded in 360 A.D. by the saint, who during his lifetime was spiritual father to more than four thousand monks of different nationalities – Egyptians, Greeks, Ethiopians, Armenians, Nubians, Asians, Palestinians, Italians, Gauls and Spaniards.

Quote: “The soul that really loves God and Christ, though it may do ten thousand righteousnesses, esteems itself as having wrought nothing, by reason of its insatiable aspiration after God. Though it should exhaust the body with fastings, with watchings, its attitude towards the virtues is as if it had not yet even begun to labour for them.”

Fun fact: It once happened that an unmarried pregnant girl accused him of fathering her child. The pious saint did not protest; he quietly accepted the responsibility she had unjustly laid on him, and was attacked and beaten by the villagers and the girl’s family, who demanded that he support her. He did so, selling the baskets that he wove and giving the money to her parents. When the time came for the girl to give birth, she was in great agony and cried out that it was not St. Macarius, but another man who was her baby’s father. As soon as they heard this, the villagers felt ashamed of the way they had treated the saint, and went to ask his forgiveness. When they arrived at his little hut, they found it completely empty; he had fled from their praise and flattery.