We Made This World Look Absurd

VI.iii.15. The fathers said that a certain Macarius was the first to set up a monastery in Scete. That place is a long way off from Nitria, distant by a journey of about a day and a night. There are many dangers for those who would go there. None but the strong are able to survive in that harsh place; it is totally arid, furnishing nothing of what is necessary for life. This Macarius, a townsman, at one stage joined up with Macarius the Greater, and when they came to cross the Nile, it so chanced that they were able to board a sizeable ship along with two tribunes whose possessions proclaimed their importance. They had a bronze chariot, the horses had golden bridles. A number of soldiers were with them, their slaves had ornamental necklaces, some of them with golden girdles. When these tribunes saw the two old monks sitting in a corner dressed in rags they reverenced them for their poverty.
One of the tribunes said to them, “Blessed are you, for you have made this world look absurd.”
The Macarius who came from the town said, “We have indeed made this world look absurd, but this world makes you look absurd. For you must know that you did not realise the full import of what you have just said, since we are both us called ‘Macarius’, which does in fact mean ‘blessed’.” And the tribune so stirred by his words that he went back home, discarded his expensive clothing and became a monk after giving much alms.

De Vitis Patrum Vi, Libellus 3

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