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Life and guidance of the Holy Fathers
An extraordinary and irresistible impression was produced by St. Macarius on all who came into contact with him. Divine grace transfigured his whole being. It could be noticed in his glance, in his speech, and in that extraordinary love which poured out upon all around him. His word, even the simplest, was always uttered with authority. It created and built. Filled with divine wisdom and power, it penetrated to the very depth of the human spirit. Even those who didn’t know St. Macarius recognized him instantly amidst other monks by his extraordinary appearance.
For sixty years St. Macarius lived in his desert of Scetis, and at the age of 90 he departed to the Lord. Not long before his death, there appeared to him from the world above his Abba Anthony the Great, chief of the desert dwellers, and Pachomius the Great, founder of the coenobitic monasteries in Egypt. They said, “Rejoice, Macarius; the Lord Jesus Christ sent us to announce to you your joyful death. On the ninth day after today you will depart into eternal life. On that day we shall come again to you and with joy shall take you with us, so that together with us you might appear before the Lord’s Throne and enjoy immortal life.” St. Macarius summoned the brethren. He instructed them to preserve strictly the rules of the fathers and the traditions of the monks, placed the more experienced and advanced brethren as teachers among them, blessed all, bade farewell to them, and in solitude began to prepare for his departure.
On the day of his death a Cherubim appeared to him with a multitude of angels and said: “Arise, O follower of the Lord, and come with us into eternal life.” The Cherubim indicated to him the throngs of saints who had come out to meet him: “Behold the assembly of apostles, behold the throng of prophets, behold the multitude of martyrs, behold the choir of holy hierarchs, fasters, monks and righteous men. Give Unto me now your soul, which I was commanded by God to preserve during its earthly life.” With the words, “Into Thy hands, 0 Lord, I commend my spirit,” St. Macarius departed to the Lord.
He beholds the soul and sees all that takes place in it. He indicates to it the path to perfection. He is entirely caught up in contemplation of God and in exaltation. To him the great Secrets of the world above are open.His writings speak to us chiefly of deification. He develops the philosophy of communion with God, although he built no philosophical system. “Genuine philosophy is ascetical doing, the acquisition of the Spirit of Wisdom and Reason. A God-bearing contemplator or seer of mysteries is a true wise man or lover of wisdom (philosopher).” He speaks of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. External labors — fasting, vigil, prayer — are only means to this and are not in themselves an end. This teaching of the acquisition of the Holy Spirit comes down through the centuries to our own great Seraphim. In the renowned Conversation with Motovilov St.Seraphim reveals to our whole contemporary world this ancient yet all-but-forgotten teaching…
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.
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