Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saint Makários the Great of Egypt was born at the beginning of the 4th Century. As a child he worked with his father, who owned camels that were used to carry natron from the Wadi el-Natroun. His father was also the priest of the village in which the Saint was born and brought up. Already in his youth Saint Makários was known for his great wisdom and holiness of life, and so was called the young elder. After his father, he himself was ordained to serve as priest in the village.

At the age of about forty he retired to the desert at Skítis, which he helped to establish as a hermit community. After more than 1600 years, the Monastery of Saint Makários still exists as a cenobitic community at Skítis. One of the great monastic elders of our time, Abba Matta el-Meskeen, or Matthew the Poor, was instrumental in bringing about the current revival of life at the monastery. He lived there from 1969 until his blessed repose in 2006.

At Vespers for Saint Makários we chant of the struggles in self-restraint and non-possessiveness of this important founder of Christian monastic life:

Fourth Tone. Unto them that fear Thee.

Striving for the blessedness that far surpasseth the mind of
man, * thou didst reckon strict abstinence * as pleasure,
O wondrous one; * poverty as riches; * never to possess, as to have abundance in all things; * and moderation as glory passing great. * According to thy purpose, therefore, thou hast found thy desire on high, * O Makários, dwelling now * in the bright mansions of the saints.

Saint Makários is commemorated on 19 January/1 February.

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