African Saints (from the Prolouge of Ohrid)
- Theodulus (Jan. 14) 5th Century, Son of Nilus of Sinai
- Paul of Thebes (Jan. 15) 3rd & 4th Century, Lived in the deserts of Upper Egypt surrendering his part of an earthly inheritance for the sake of Christ. His asceticism made a heavy impression on Anthony the Great. Paul reposed in 342 after living 113 years.
- Anthony the Great (Jan. 17) 250-356 AD, The father of Christian monasticism. Upon hearing the Gospel reading, Go sell all you have and follow me, Anthony gave away his inheritance and lived as a hermit in prayer and fasting. Athanasius’s book, The Life of St. Anthony the Great, influenced many men and women to either come to the deserts of Egypt, or live as monks and nuns where they were.
- Achillies the Confessor (Jan. 17) 5th Century, hermit of Egypt
- Athanasius the Great (296-373) & Cyrill Archbishops of Alexandria (Jan. 18) As a deacon, Athanasius helped to defeat the Arian heritics at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 and wrote the original Creed of the Church. He succeeded Alexander as the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa and was persecuted for not giving into false doctrine. He was a friend to Anthony and other Desert Fathers. In 367, Bishop Athanasius gave a list of 27 books for all of his clergy to preach and teach from. These books were canonized as the New Testament by a Council in Carthage in 398. Cyril is also celebrated on June 9th.
- Macarius the Great (Jan. 19) Died 390, Withdrew to the wilderness of Egypt after the death of his wife. In the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Macarius was known to have a level of humility that confounded demons. Because of his virtuous life, a cherubim showed him the Kingdom of Heaven. He was visited by Anthony and Pachomius nine days before his death.
- Macarius of Alexandria (Jan. 19) Died 393, A former fruit vendor was baptized at the age of 40. Along with Macarius the Great, the Alexandrian was one of the first disciples of Anthony. Macarius became the Abbot of “The Cells” Monastery between Nitra and Sketis.
A Word from the Fathers & Mothers It’s not hard to find advertisements for celebrity ministers promoting their events. Television, social media, and other forms of communication are plastered with well dressed men and women promising life changing conferences, sermons and songs. There is not an apostle, bishop, prophet, or other preacher of some sort that does not do this according to their budget.
Father Nathaniel Johnson reminded us at the 2014 St. Moses the Black Conference that the Desert Fathers didn’t go around advertising who they were. But, they led spiritual lives so influential and powerful that they drew people to them. After harsh treatment and being proved innocent of impregnating a young woman, Macarius the Great ran away from the attention of his former persecutors. Humility like his was becoming more of a rarity in a world that was rapidly becoming Christian for self-serving and superficial reasons.
“Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
A demon confronted Abba Macarius with frustration, “All that you do, we do. You fast, we don’t eat. You pray in all night vigils, we don’t sleep. You have one advantage over us that we cannot conquer.” “What is that,” the old man asked. “Your humility, because of that we can do nothing to you.” From the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, Macarius the Great #11, #35.
Yes, we all want people to attend Bible studies, worship services, and special events. Let’s be cautious that we live the life. Even if no one attends what we have planned, there will be an audience of the One who sees and hears us at all times.
One thought on “Dispatch from the Desert: January 13th to 19th, 2020”
Thank you for sharing these. It’s thought provoking to consider how LITERALLY these holy people took the words of God. It can get to be a habit to turn everything into a metaphor, or a “deeper meaning,” instead of literally just going and doing what it said.