Saturday, May 15, 2010

Encounter Between St. Pachomius and St. Macarius

St. Pachomius the Great (Feast Day - May 15)

Below is an excerpt from Palladius' Lausiac History which speaks of the encounter between St. Pachomius the Great and St. Macarius of Alexandria:

Having heard that the monks of Tabennisi had a splendid rule of life, he [Macarius] changed his clothes and put on the secular garments of a workman, and went a fifteen days' journey to the Thebaid, traveling through the desert.

And having come to the Monastery of the Tabennesiots he asked for their archimandrite, Pachomius by name, a man of great reputation and possessing the gift of prophecy, ­though the story of Macarius had not been revealed to him.

So meeting him he said: "I pray you, receive me into your monastery that I may become a monk."

Pachomius said to him: "You have already reached old age, and you cannot be an ascetic. The brethren are ascetics and you cannot endure their labors. You will be offended and will depart, cursing them."

And he did not receive him either the first day or the second, till seven days had passed. But he persisted in waiting, fasting (all the time), and at last he said to him: "Receive me, father, and if I do not fast as they do and work, order me to be driven out." He persuaded the brethren to admit him; now the total number (of the occupants) of the first monastery was 1,400 men and remains so up to this day.

Well, he entered. When a little time had passed, Lent came on and he saw each man practicing different ways of asceticism,­ one eating in the evening only, another every two days, another every five, another again standing all night but sitting down by day. So having moistened palm­ leaves in large numbers, he stood in a corner and until the forty days were completed and Easter had come, ate no bread and drank no water, neither knelt down nor reclined, and apart from a few cabbage leaves took nothing, and them only on Sunday, that he might appear to eat. And if ever he went out in obedience to nature, he quickly came in again and took his stand, speaking to no one and not opening his mouth but standing in silence. And, apart from prayer in his heart and the palm­ leaves in his hands, he was doing nothing.

All the ascetics therefore, seeing this, raised a revolt against the superior, saying: "Where did you get this fleshless man from, to condemn us? Either drive him out, or know that we are all going." Pachomius, therefore, having heard the details of his observance, prayed to God that the identity of the stranger might be revealed to him.

And it was revealed; and he took him by the hand and led him to the house of prayer, where the altar was, and said to him, "Here, good old man, you are Macarius and you hid it from me. For many years I have been longing to see you. I thank you for letting my children feel your fist, lest they should be proud of their ascetic achievements. Now go away to your own place, for you have edified us sufficiently. And pray for us." Then he went away, as asked.

St. Macarius of Alexandria (Feast Day - January 19)

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