Fwd: How The Ancients Understood What It Means To Be A Monk
- --- In OrthodoxMartyria@yahoogroups.com, R Michael Zachary
How the Ancients Understood What It Meant to Be a MonkThis selection
is from St. Macarius the Great, born about A.D. 300. A former camel
driver, he spent most of his monastic life in Scetis where the
Coptic Monastery of St. Macarius stands to this day with a very
active community and monastic life.
BEGIN: One day, Macarius the Egyptian went from Scetis to the
mountain of Nitria for the offering of Abba Pambo. The old men said
to him, "Father, say a word to the brethren." He said, "I have not
yet become a monk myself, but I have seen monks. One day when I was
sitting in my cell, my thoughts were troubling me, suggesting that I
should go to the desert and see what I could see there. I remained
for five years, fighting against this thought, saying, perhaps it
comes from demons. But since the thought persisted, I left for the
"There I found a sheet of water and an island in the midst, and the
animals of the desert came to drink there. In the midst of these
animals I saw two naked men, and my body trembled, for I believed
they were spirits. Seeing me shaking, they said to me, 'Do not be
afraid, for we are men.' Then I said to them, 'Where do you come
from, and how did you come to this desert?'
"They said, 'We come from a monastery and having agreed to gather,
we came here forty years ago. One of us is an Egyptian and the other
a Libyan.' They questioned me and asked me, 'How is the world? Is
the water rising in due time? Is the world enjoying prosperity?'
"I replied it was, then I asked them, 'How can I become a monk?'
They said to me, 'If you do not give up all that is in the world,
you cannot become a monk.' I said to them, 'But I am weak, and I
cannot do as you do.' So they said to me: 'If you cannot become like
us, sit in your cell and weep for your sins.'
"I asked them, 'When the winter comes are you not frozen?' And when
the heat comes do not your bodies burn?' They said, 'It is God who
has made this way of life for us. We do not freeze in winter, and
the summer does us no harm.'
"That is why I said that I have not yet become a monk, but I have
seen monks." END
from, "The Desert Christian," by Sr. Benedicta Ward, New York:
MacMillan Publishing Co., 1975, pp. 125-126
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