Saturday, 4 June 2011

St. Macrina the Younger

St. Macrina the Younger (drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer)

What follows is a “pious” account of the life of St. Macrina the Younger with brief mention of her various saintly, family members. Try not to let the sweetness of the account bother you; instead, try to get a sense of how this family approached the living out of their faith in the early, tumultuous years of the Church.  The information is based on the panegyric [extravagant praise delivered in formal speech or writing] authored by St. Gregory of Nyssa, her brother.

Saint Macrina the Younger was born about 330; died 379. She was the eldest child of Basil and Elder Emmelia, the granddaughter of St. Macrina the Elder, and the sister of the Cappadocian Fathers, Sts. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa.

St. Basil the Great (drawing by S. Thayer)
The last-mentioned has left us a biography of his sister in the form of a panegyric ("Vita Macrinae Junioris"). She received an excellent intellectual training, though one based more on the study of the Holy Bible than on that of profane literature. When she was but twelve years old, her father had already arranged a marriage for her with a young advocate of excellent family. Soon afterwards, however, her affianced husband died suddenly, and Macrina resolved to devote herself to a life of perpetual virginity and the pursuit of Christian perfection. She exercised great influence over the religious training of her younger brothers; especially St. Peter of Sebaste, afterwards Bishop of Sebaste, and through her St. Gregory received the greatest intellectual stimulation. On the death of their father, Basil took her, with their mother, to a family estate on the River Iris, in Pontus (part of modern day Turkey). Here, with their servants and other companions, they led a life of retirement, consecrating themselves to God. Strict asceticism, zealous meditation on the truths of Christianity, and prayer were the chief concerns of this community. Not only the brothers of St. Macrina but also St. Gregory of Nazianzus and Eustathius of Sebaste were associated with this pious circle and were there stimulated to make still further advances towards Christian perfection. After the death her mother Emmelia, Macrina became the head of this community, in which the fruit of the earnest Christian life matured so gloriously. On his return from a synod of Antioch, towards the end of 379, Gregory of Nyssa visited his deeply venerated sister, and found her grievously ill. In pious discourse the brother and sister spoke of the life beyond and of the meeting in heaven. Soon afterwards Macrina passed blissfully to her reward. Gregory composed a "Dialogue on the Soul and Resurrection" (peri psyches kai anastaseos), treating of his pious discourse with his dying sister. In this, Macrina appears as teacher, and treats of the soul, death, the resurrection, and the restoration of all things. Her feast day is celebrated in the Orthodox Churches on July 19th.


Now for something completely different...  well, not really!  I just want to show you another drawing of Calla lilies.  I think by now everyone knows how much I love the look of Calla lilies.  I keep drawing them and every so often I decide to delight you (burden you, maybe) with another example.  Here is one of my more recent drawings.

Calla lilies Zantedeschia (drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer)

I must have at least 10 more photos of Calla lilies that I want to use for models for drawing so prepare yourselves.  Sometime in the near future I should do an entire posting just of various drawings of Calla lilies!


Now let me show you some photos of swans I came across recently.  Like Calla lilies, they are so elegant with their long necks and quiet gliding -- sort of like Calla lilies in motion!

What a life!
How lovely that must be for the youngsters.  It is kind of like having your very own gondola.  You could pretend you were gliding along the canals of Venice!

Staying close to Mama!
 Here we have what appears to be a mother swan, known as a pen with a group of her young.  The young are generally called either cygnets or swanlings.  So, playing with the "game of venery", the accepted term for a group of adult swans is a "wedge of swans" which I do not find too appealing.  I do not know of any official terms for the youngsters so I have made up my own.  The young can either be a "clutch of cygnets" or a "surfeit of swanlings" (this would fit for most swan families as there are often between 6 or 8 swanlings).  If anyone out there cares about such things, please let me know what you think and what terms you would suggest.


At the moment, Suki is considering whether to crawl into her favourite sleeping place in the back of the closet or beg for some more food!  I, on the other hand, am feeling rather weary as I just finished a marriage preparation class with a very nice young couple.  I do enjoy giving these classes, but these days they do tire me out somewhat.

My sister with two of her grandchildren

My sister and her husband flew in for a visit this past Wednesday.  They live in Tennessee.  It was so wonderful to see them both again.  We had a good visit and now I miss them very much.  It is interesting how precious such visits are the older you get.  Our family was as dysfunctional as it gets, but I ended up with two wonderful sisters in spite of it all.  What a blessing they have been for me.  God is so good.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Ascension.  I wish you all a holy and blessed feast day.

May the peace of God be with us all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also want to tell you that your St. Macarina story and drawing are beatuful.
And, I enjoyed very much the post about your cats. Ah, how the time passes by ...
Dimitrije loves all your cats. Suki seems to be his favourite. He loves yellow cats and would have picked Mr. Ginger, had he not been behaving so badly.