St. Macarius the Great of Egypt
Commemorated on January 19
Saint Macarius of Alexandria, Saint Mark Eugenikos, Archbishop of Ephesus, St Anthony of Martqopi the Founder of Monasticism in Georgia, Saint Anthony the Stylite of Martomq’ophi (Martkob),Saint Macarius the Roman, Martyr Euphrasia, Saint Arsenius, Archbishop of Kerkyra (Corfu), Saint Macarius the Faster of the Near Caves of Kiev, aint Macarius the Deacon lived in the Far Caves of Kiev, Blessed Theodore of Novgorod the Fool-For-Christ, Saint Sava of Storozhev and Zvenigorod.
The birth of St. Macarius was foretold to his father by the Patriarch Abraham, who appeared to him in a dream, and then by an angel as well. Likewise in a dream an angel appeared to the Presbyter Abraham when he was sick, healed him and, predicting the birth of a son, said, “He will be a dwelling of the Holy Spirit and will bring many to God.” The new-born son was given the name Macarius, which signifies “blessed.”
This “chosen vessel” was distinguished by an extraordinarily sensitive conscience.
Macarius prayed fervently that the Lord would send him a wise instructor in the spiritual life. By Divine inspiration there came to church an ascetic of fair appearance, with long hair and a beard, with a body weakened by ascetic labors.There Macarius met him… The elder advised Macarius not to postpone his intention to devote himself wholly to the monastic life. Macarius accepted the advice. Having given away all his possessions, he returned to the anchorite, who, accepting him with love, instructed him in the monastic life and in basket-weaving. He settled him in a separate: cell not far from himself where Macarius gave himself zealously over to ascetic deeds, advancing rapidly in the spiritual life.
A few days after his ordination as a deacon he left and settled near another village.
Here there came upon him a difficult trial which he bore with extraordinary good-heartedness, which testified of the already high degree of his spirituality. In this village a girl, being pregnant, under the influence of the evil spirit slandered Macarius, saying that he was the Cause of her sin. The enraged parents together with their fellow-villagers subjected him to beating and tortures. Leaving him scarcely alive, they obligated him to furnish support for the girl. Meekly and without murmuring, St. Macarius bore all this and began to work all the harder saying to himself: “Now Macarius you have a wife and children, and therefore you have to work day and night to furnish their support.”
When it came time for the girl to give birth, the just judgment of God overtook her for several days she was in terrible torment and could not be delivered of her burden. Then she understood that this was a punishment for her slandering of an innocent man. She acknowledged everything and indicated the one who was really guilty. Heating this, all were greatly frightened, fearing God’s chastisement for wronging the righteous one, and, bothered by their conscience, they decided to go to Macarius in order to obtain forgiveness for themselves. A friend of Macarius with joy forewarned him of this. But Macarius, who had willingly accepted dishonor, did not desire to receive honors and glory. At night he secretly left for the desert of Nitria.
There he lived and labored in asceticism in a cave for some time, and then went to St. Anthony in the desert of Pharan.
The biographer of St. Macarius, speaks of how he performed numerous miracles and freed so many from evil spirits that to describe it all would require a whole book.
ABBA Macarius constantly instilled the idea that the foundation of everything is humility: “If we see that anyone exalts himself and becomes haughty because he is a participant of grace, then even were he to perform signs and raise the dead, if he does not acknowledge his soul to be dishonored and debased, and himself poor in spirit and vile, he is robbed by malice and does nor know it.”
“I am not yet a monk, but I have seen monks,” said Abba Macarius to the Nitrian brethren..
The gift of love in St. Macarius attained the highest degree. His love for his neighbor was revealed especially in his condescension to the weaknesses of others. By the testimony of the elders of Scetis, he was as it were an “earthly god” just as God, they said, while seeing the whole world docs not chastise sinners, so also Macarius covered up men’s weaknesses, which as it were he saw without seeing, and’ heard without hearing.
St. Macarius, pray to God for us! let God’s light illumine our hearts. Pray that our days are filled with humility, and that we learn to love others in charity, just as God loves us. Pray that we can learn to live out our Christian vocation in all times and places, and in all circumstances.
Apolytikion St. Macarius the Great of Egypt in the First Tone
Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Makarios, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.