Wednesday, May 14, 2003

How Abba Macarius came to become an elder at Scetis: the scarlet A for Accused is not only of our days, or of St. Gerard Majella's day, but from much, much earlier.

Abba Macarius said this about himself: "When I was young and was living in a cell in Egypt, they took me to make me a cleric in the village. Because I did not wish to receive this dignity, I fled to another place. Then a devout layman joined me; he sold my munual work for me and served me. Now it happened that a virgin in the village, under the weight of temptation, committed sin. When she became pregnant, they asked her who was to blame. She said, 'the anchorite.' Then they came to seize me, led me to the village and hung pots black with soot and various other things round my neck and led me through the village in all directions, beating me and saying, 'This monk has defiled our virgin, catch him, catch him!' and they beat me almost to death. Then one of the old men came and said, 'What are you doing, how long will you go on beating this strange monk?' The man who served me was walking behind me, full of shame, for they covered him with insults also, saying, 'Look at this anchorite, for whom you stood surety; what has he done?' The girl's parents said, 'Do not let him go till he has given a pledge that he will keep her.' I spoke to my servant and he vouched for me. Going to my cell, I gave him all the baskets I had, saying, 'Sell them, and give my wife something to eat.' Then I said to myself, 'Macarius, you have found yourself a wife, you must work a little more in order to keep her.' So I worked night and day and sent my work to her. But when it came time for the wretch to give birth, she remained in labor many days without bringing forth, and they asked her, 'What is the matter?' She said, 'I know what it is; it is because I slandered the anchorite, and accused him unjustly; it is not he who is to blame, but such and such a young man.' Then the man who served me came to me full of joy, saying, 'The virgin could not give birth until she had said "The anchorite had nothing to do with it, but I have lied about him." The whole village wants to come here solemnly and do penance before you.' But when I heard this, for fear people would disturb me, I got up and fled here to Scetis. That is the original reason why I came here."

[Sayings of the Desert Fathers(alpabetical collection)]

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