CXLI. To Marcellus, Archimandrite of the Acoemetæ. 1989
Bright is made your holiness by your goodly life, exhibiting on earth the image of the conversation of the angels, but it is made still brighter by your zeal for the apostolic faith. As keel to boat, as corner-stone to house, so to them that choose to live in piety is the truth of the doctrines of the Gospel. For this truth when assailed you have bravely fought, not striving to protect it as though it were weak, but shewing your godly disposition; for the teaching of our Master Christ is gifted with stability and strength, in accordance with the promise of the same Saviour, “that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” 1990 It is the loving and bountiful Lord who has thought right that I too should be dishonoured and slain on behalf of this doctrine. For truly we have reckoned dishonour honour, and death life. We have heard the words of the apostle “For unto us it is given by God not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” 1991 But the Lord arose like the sleeper, and stopped the mouths of them that uttered blasphemy against God and injustice against me. But He has made the tongues of the pious pour forth their fountains in their wonted message. I, however, am gathering the delightful fruits of rest; as I look at the agitation of the churches I am grieved, but I rejoice and am glad at being freed from cares. I have ever been gratified at your admirable piety, but heretofore I have not written, not from any lack of regard for the dictates of charity, but because I have waited for some suitable occasion. Just now, having fallen in with the most pious and prudent monks who have been sent by your holiness on other business, I have lost no time in carrying out my wish. I salute your godliness. I beg you in the first place to support me with your prayers, and further to cheer me by a letter, for by Gods grace I have been attacked for the Gospels sake.
The Acoemetæ, “sleepless,” or “unresting,” were an order of monks established in the 5th century by Alexander, an officer of the imperial household. Marcellus, the third Abbot, was a second founder, and was warmly supported by the patriarch Gennadius of Constantinople. (458–71.) Before Chalcedon he joined with other orthodox abbots to petition Marcian against Eutyches. (Labbe iv. 531 Dict. Christ. Biog. iii. 813). Alexanders foundation was of 300 monks of various nations, divided into six choirs, and so arranged that the work of praise and prayer should “never rest.” This has been copied elsewhere and since,
“where tapers day and night
On the dim altar burned continually,
In token that the house was evermore
Watching to God.
Wordsworth, Exc. viii.309:1990
Matt. xvi. 18309:1991
Phil. i. 29