January 16, 2021 - Toba 8, 1737
Consecration of St. Macarius
On this day, the church of St. Macarius, in the monastery known after his name, was consecrated by the hand of Abba Benjamin, 38th Pope of Alexandria. This took place when El-Moquakas was appointed as a ruler and patriarch over Egypt by Emperor Heraclius. Both of them believed in the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon. El-Moquakas started to persecute the Christians of Egypt (the Copts) because they refused to follow him. He pursued Pope Benjamin, the legitimate Pope of Alexandria, who took flight to upper Egypt. He moved from one church to another and from one monastery to another, confirming his flock in the faith. He did this for ten years, until the Arab conquest of Egypt and the death of El-Moquakas. When Abba Benjamin returned to his throne, the elders of the wilderness of the holy desert of Scete (Scetis) asked him to consecrate for them the new church that they built there in the name of St. Macarius. He went with them joyfully. As he approached the monastery, the monks received him with palm fronds and olive branches, just as the city of Jerusalem received Christ when He entered it.
When he was consecrating the church and as he was starting to consecrate the altar, he saw the Hand of Christ anointing the altar with him. He fell upon his face in great fear, and one of the Cherubim raised him up and comforted him. Abba Benjamin said, Truly this is the house of the Lord and this is the door of heaven. He looked to the west side of the church and he saw an elder standing there with reverence and awesome appearance, and his shining face looked like an angel. He said to himself, Truly, if there a chair became vacant, I would make this man a bishop. The angel told him, Would you make this man a bishop?, and he is St. Macarius, the father of Patriarchs, bishops, and all the monks. He has come today in the spirit to rejoice with his children, and this place will be forever filled with righteous monks, and it will never be short of leaders and spiritual fruits. St. Benjamin said, Blessed is he and blessed are his children. The angel said, If his children obey his commandments and follow his orders, they will be with him in glory, but if they disobey, they will have no share with him.
Then St. Macarius said, Do not decide, my lord, what would happen to my children this way. For if one grape in a bunch remains, the blessing of the Lord will be on it. For if their love for one another remains among them, I believe that the Lord will never keep them away from His Kingdom. St. Benjamin was amazed and marvelled at the abundant mercy of St. Macarius. He wrote what had taken place and placed it in the church as a perpetual memorial. He asked the Lord Jesus Christ that his departure might take place on a similar day. This was fulfilled, and he departed on the eighth day of Tubah, after he had been on the throne for 39 years. The altar in which he saw the Lord Christ was named after him. May his prayers be with us. Amen.