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Insights into the early Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers
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Several of the desert personalities are described and quoted in the pages of In the Heart of the Desert. Below are descriptions of just two of these fascinating holy desert dwellers, with the text excerpted from Fr. Chryssavgis’ book:

Abba Macarius of Egypt

Macarius the Great was born around the year 300 in Egypt. His worldly profession was as a camel-driver and trader. He was an ordained priest and one of the founders of monasticism in Scetis.He died in the year 390. Forty-one sayings have been preserved under Macarius’ name.Abba Macarius is characterized by a sense of refinement, resignation, and renunciation.He was known for “receiving all the brothers in equal simplicity,” for working miracles, but especially for his inclusive love.
They said of Abba Macarius the Great, that he became, as it were, a god upon this earth; because, just as God protects the world, so Abba Macarius would cover the faults he saw, as though he did not see them, and those he heard, as though he did not hear them.

Amma Syncletica

One of the three women that feature in the Sayings is Amma Syncletica. [She was] born in 380 in Alexandria, of a wealthy and well respected pious family.She died around the year 460. Twenty-seven of her sayings are preserved.Amma Syncletica rejects any sharp distinction between those who live in the desert and those who live in the city. The goal is the same for all, even if the way differs for some.
Amma Syncletica said: “There are many who live in the mountains and behave as if they were in the town; they are wasting their time. It is possible to be a solitary in one’s mind while living in a crowd; and it is possible for those who are a solitaries to live in the crowd of their own thoughts.”
Moderation and balance generally seem to characterize the sayings of this desert amma.Everyone has the potential for such balance, she believes.
Amma Syncletica
(Amma is the Coptic word for "mother" or "elder." The similar term abba means "father" or "elder.")
Amma Syncletica was noted for her "gentleness, patience, and moderation."
This icon is from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston.
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