Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Holiness is a family project

Sorry for being a touch late with this: had the eye exam today, then afterwards couldn't post until the dilation drugs wore off..... in seven to ten business days I can pick up my new glasses and not have to use a magnifying glass on the daily paper anymore!

So, the first of the two fabulous saints remembered today:

Today is the memorial of St. Macrina the younger. She's called the younger to distinguish her from her holy paternal grandmother, St. Macrina the elder.

But, they were not the only heroically virtuous ones in their family. In their family, heroic virtue was a family project.

Both of the younger Macrina's parents are saints: St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia.

All three of her younger brothers are also saints: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Peter of Sebastea. Some sources also say that St. Gregory Nazianzen was her cousin and foster-brother, raised in the household. Gregory may have been a popular name in the family because the elder Macrina was a disciple of St. Gregory the Wonderworker.

But back to today's member of the family, the younger Macrina. Born in about 327, she had as normal of a childhood as was possible when Mom, Dad, and Grandma are all certifiable Saints, growing up pretty, pious, and learned under the tutulege of her Mom and Grandma, both of whom beside being holy were also noted scholars. At age twelve, the standard age in those days, she was betrothed to a Christian lawyer, but the young gentleman died before the wedding, and she then refused all other suitors.

About this time, her Dad died, and then a few years later, her Mom, and she, with her Grandma's help, dedicated herself to the upbringing and education of her younger brothers and cousin, seeing them all safely launched into holy and learned adulthoods. Once this duty was done, she entered a cenobium for women (we'd say "monastery" these days, but monasteries hadn't been invented yet.....) that her Mom had founded after Dad died, where she lived a life of intense prayer as its amma until her death in 379. Her kid brother St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote her biography.

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