Teacher, sister, friend

Daily Reading for July 19 • Macrina, Monastic and Teacher, 379, and Adelaide Teague Case, Teacher, 1948

On one of the banks of the river was the abode of a society of holy women under the spiritual guidance of Emmeline, the mother, and Macrina, the sister, of Gregory. Basil had returned from his journeying in the monastic regions of Egypt and the East, had brought back the best hints he had gathered, and applied them with his excellent judgment. It was one of those institutions that seemed to be founded and sustained in the spirit of serene devotion. The foolish austerities of ascetics were not suffered to extinguish the tenderest sensibilities; nor did a stupid inactivity, engendered by a morbid enthusiasm, forbid the exercise of the delightful office of charity. Not only were the souls of the residents entranced by prayer, by retirement within the still chambers of meditation, and by morning and evening melodies; but the study of the sacred narratives and of good men’s works, the labor of the hands, and the interchange of friendly deeds, made up the cheerful and instructive round of each day’s occupations.

Already Basil had gone out, bearing the message of life. He was now pleading for the sublime principles of purity, beneficence, and forgiveness before the mixed populace, the noble and the servile, the thoughtful and the worldly, the fortunate and the distressed, at Caesarea—the same crowded capital where he was, a few years previous, pleading their secular interests in the presence of human tribunals. . . .

“Are there tidings from Caesarea?” asked Macrina, as the old pilgrim, who was the only bearer of news to the solitaries, presented himself at the entrance to the coenobium. Her eye fell upon the well-known scroll of her brother Basil; and bestowing the usual blessing, the welcome and the reward upon the worn traveler, she hurried with it to her mother’s apartment, to rejoice or to weep over its communications. “The evil god of ambition hath gained the heart of our brother,” commenced the epistle. It proceeded to relate how Gregory had left the sacred office for a return to his profane studies, and had become an instructor in oratory. . . .The grief of his loving guardians was intense. It was as if he had renounced forever the name and hopes of a Christian; and their tears fell for him as for one lost from the number of the faithful. . . . But with the hoping and trusting Macrina some relief always came to the darkest apprehensions. . . .“To prayer, then, for the mistaken wanderer! Let our love utter itself in supplication. Pray that, having clothed himself with the saint’s robe, he be not suffered to turn unto idols. Pray that he put not the excellency of speech and the words that man’s wisdom teacheth above the simple but divine instructions of the Redeemer. Pray that his faith fail not. And may He who keepeth his children’s way send us answers of peace!”

Their intercessions and remonstrances, with the earnest arguments of the Bishop and the stern rebukes of Basil, finally prevailed. The joyful hour when they learned the resolve of the eloquent youth to bring his whole heart’s gift to the consecrated service, was recompense enough for their weepings and forebodings. He seemed himself to confess from whom came the most effective persuasions, by repairing himself immediately to the side of those gentle counselors. Among these influences he strengthened his purposes, and prepared himself for the trying struggles into which his fresh determinations must bear him.

From “Macrina, the Sister of Gregory” by F. D. Huntington, D.D., in The Church Monthly, volume 1 (April 1861).

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