Theologian Thursday: Macrina the Younger (327-379)

Added on by Keegan Osinski.
This week's post concludes my series on the Cappadocians. Even though she's certainly not a "Father," Macrina had a significant influence on the education and edification of her brothers Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, and their partner in crime heresy-fighting Gregory of Nazianzus.

Not only that, but there is a bakery in Seattle from which I'd LOVE a t-shirt/mug/something. I really need to go. Maybe when I'm [hopefully] up there for the meeting of the Wesleyan Theological Society next year (fingers crossed/that's a blog post for later).

Anyway. On to the good stuff.

(image from here)
Macrina was educated in the Bible and the ways of the Church by her mother Emily, and, after the man to whom she was betrothed died before they were married (and before she even knew she was betrothed to him, interestingly enough), she decided to remain a virgin and commit herself to a life of service. She helped her mother raise and teach her nine younger siblings, as well as found two monasteries on their estate in Pontus, and was a constant source of stability and comfort through various deaths in the family. When her mother died, she gave all the money of the family estates to the poor, and lived with the nuns, teaching and working in the community.

After Basil died, she also fell ill, and her brother Gregory came to visit her. Despite her sickness, she comforted Gregory and pointed him to God even to her final breath.

Macrina's life is an example of humility. Though she was born to a wealthy family, she considered herself equal to the nuns with whom she lived, and endeavored to educate all those around her, regardless of rank. Indeed, her death bed was not even a bed at all--it was a board covered with a sack. This sense of equality leads many to assume she believed in and taught universal salvation.


What you should read:
Ratings:
(To read more about my rating system, click HERE.)
Gender Equality:
She was a woman (obviously) but did just as much (and just as important) work for the Church and for her community as her brothers. Indeed, as I've mentioned before, her brothers owe much of their education and upbringing to her.
Environmental Sensibility
Environmental Sensibility
I'm a bit split on this rating. On one hand, she was an acetic, and had platonic/almost gnostic ideas about the body and the physical world (i.e. they're not important--the spiritual is what matters). On the other hand, her theology of the universal love of God leads me to believe that she would agree with care for creation, just as God cares for creation. I guess I'll leave it at a two.
Heretical Tendencies:
Macrina is together with her brothers and the rest of her family with influence from Origen, and now that I think of it, a lot of her acetic/mystic practices were discarded by the western church, and might be considered unorthodox. But certainly her humility and her love and care for people are and should be normative practice.
General Badassery:
I don't think she is really bad-ass in the usual sense, but the fact that she helped raise 9 kids, founded and worked in monasteries, and generally held her family together is pretty admirable. Plus, she died praying while lying on a wooden board. Dang.

And a quote:
"When the evil has been exterminated in the long cycles of the æons nothing shall be left outside the boundaries of good, but even from them shall be unanimously uttered the confession of the Lordship of Christ."