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The Venerable Saint Macarius of Egypt

On February 1st (January 29th, old style) the Church commemorates the great desert-dweller, the venerable Saint Macarius of Egypt.

St. Macarius was born in 301 A.D. in Egypt, on the western shore of the Nile, in a pious family. Having dedicated himself to a truly Christian life from childhood, upon the death of his parents he departed into the desert of Nitrea, and from thence, in obedience to an angels revelation, into the Scythian desert, where he excelled in prayer and monastic life.

One time he came across the devil, who carried a scythe, with which he wished to strike the holy man, but could not. The devil then said to St. Macarius: Macarius! You are causing me great grief, because I am unable to vanquish you. Here I am, doing everything that you are doing. You are keeping fast - and I am not eating at all; you are keeping awake - and I never sleep. There is one thing, however, in which you surpass me. And what is that? - asked the saint. Your humility, - replied the devil. - It is for this reason that I cannot cope with you.

The venerable Saint Macarius of Egypt
The venerable
Saint Macarius of Egypt.

When St. Macarius reached the age of 40, he received from God the gifts of miracle-working, prophecy and power over the evil spirits. At the same time he became a priest and the abbot of his monastery. The power of the saints grace was so great, that he could even resurrect the dead. A multitude of people came from everywhere to visit St. Macarius - for spiritual benefit, for instruction, for the healing of illnesses.

Once the brothers asked the saint: Tell us, father, how should we pray? St. Macarius gave them the following instruction: A prayer does not require many words, but one should simply lift ones arms and say: Lord! In whatever way You wish and see fit - have mercy upon me. If the enemy should raise a storm of sin in your soul, you should simply say: Lord, have mercy! The Lord knows what is beneficial for us and will have mercy upon us.

St. Macarius died peacefully at the age of 90.

From the spiritual writings of St. Macarius the Great

The visible world, from kings to beggars, is in a state of agitation, dissension, struggle, and not one of them understands the cause of it, i.e. the evil that occurred as a result of Adams sin, the sting of death; for the sin that came into the world, as some sentient force and the very essence of Satan, sowed all manner of evil: it secretly acts upon mans soul and mind, and battles with him by means of thoughts. People do not realize that they commit evil, being motivated by a certain alien force; on the contrary, they believe that evil is a natural occurrence and that they commit it through their own reasoning, but those who keep Christs peace and enlightenment in their minds, know from whence this evil and these battles arise.

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