St. Macarius the Great of Egypt
The Life of St. Macarius
St. Macarius is a fourth century saint from a small village in Egypt. In obedience to his parents, he married a young woman despite wishing to remain alone. However, he left to rest in the wilderness for a few days where he received a vision from the Cherubim showing him the entire desert and saying, “God has given this desert to you and your sons for an inheritance.” When he returned home his virgin wife had died. At that time, he knew it was time to leave the worldly life. He began attending church frequently and deeply studying the Holy Scriptures. After his parents death, he sought the guidance of a local elder who lived in the desert and guided him in watchfulness, fasting, prayer, and basket-weaving. Soon, he began to live in a cell near the elder who taught him with love.
The local people seeing his virtues told the bishop of St. Macarius, and he was ordained a priest, despite his protests. He was accused of seducing a woman from the nearby village and thus endured slander and torments. He was attacked and beaten by the villagers and he accepted this without a word. Instead, he sent the money from his baskets to the pregnant woman. When it was time for the child’s birth, the woman was unable to deliver the child until she confessed her lies against St. Macarius. When she did, the woman’s parents and many other locals sought his forgiveness, but he fled again to further into the desert inorder to avoid the praise of the town.
St. Macarius sought the wisdom of St. Anthony the Great and lived near him as a disciple for many years. Later, he was sent to the Skete monastery, and he became known as the “young elder.” He was a mature monk even though he was not even thirty years old. Eventually he became the abbot of the monks in the Skete desert. He remained close with St. Anthony the Great and was even present at his death.
Through his many years of ascetic practice, he was credited with many healings, and through his intercessions, the Lord raised the dead. His humility remained steadfast despite his recognition from many. One day, a thief came to his cell stealing his few worldly things. St. Macarius, without revealing himself as the owner, helped the thief tie the things to his donkey. The thief left, never knowing the saint’s generosity.
St. Macarius died at the age of 97. One of his disciples saw St. Macarius’ soul ascending to heaven. The demons yelled out to him, “You have conquered us, O Macarius!” He responded saying, “Blessed be the Lord Jesus Christ who has delivered me from your hands.”
Feast Day: January 19th
How can St. Macarius intercede for us?
Discussion around St. Macarius
- When life is busy and there are overwhelming deadlines, some of us have thought about escaping everything (A hut in the desert sounds appealing during finals week, no?). What were St. Macarius’ intentions when he left the world, and how can we apply those same goals to our lives in the world?
- St. Macarius is an excellent example of true humility. When we are overwhelmed by “busyness,” how can we use his example to draw closer to Christ? What is the role of humility when we feel like we are constantly rushing around?
- Despite being frequently sought out for his heavenly wisdom, St. Macarius stayed focused on a life of prayer, meditation, and silence. When our schedules seem to be filled with distractions that pull us away from those practices, what can we do to stay focused?
Learn his Troparion
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 has crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.
Troparion of St. Macarius – Tone 1