Doxology for St Mary of Egypt
Having been a sinful woman, You became through repentance a Bride of Christ. Having attained angelic life, You defeated demons by the Cross; As indicated by her name, St Mary was born in Egypt. When she was twelve years old, she ran away from her home. She went to the City of Alexandria, There she stayed for 17 years. She lived a life full of sin. She had a passion for wallowing in mud. One year, she encountered some young men, Wishing to venerate the Holy Cross, they were about to sail to Jerusalem. Mary, always ready for adventure, joined them. On arrival in Jerusalem, the pilgrims went to the great church which St. Helen built to venerate the Cross; Out of curiosity, Mary followed them. She could not step across the threshold and could not enter in the church. She tried repeatedly, but each time invisible hands held her back. After Mary's companions entered the church, she remained alone in the courtyard, She became upset and frustrated and started weeping bitterly. She sat wondering what to do Suddenly the thought crossed her mind that her sinful life is the cause that prevented her from entering the church. Mary saw an icon of the Theotokos. She fell on her knees before it, she appealed to the Mother of God to help her enter into the church. Always compassionate as her Son, the Theotokos granted Mary's request. After venerating the Holy Cross, She returned to thank the Theotokos. As she stood in front of the icon, Mary heard a mysterious voice, instructing her to cross the Jordan. She obeyed immediately. En route to the river, she met a Christian who gave her three loaves of bread. By nightfall Mary reached the river She washed her face in the sacred water. She ate half a loaf of bread and drank water from the Jordan. The next morning, Mary found a boat and crossed over into the desert. She was twenty nine years old. She spent the rest of her life in the wilderness. For forty-seven years Mary lived alone in total isolation from the world. Nearby lived a monk named Zosimas For fifty three years he lived an ascetic life. Although he attained a life of perfection, God revealed to him that someone surpassed him. He went to the Monastery of John the Baptist, at the shore of the Jordan River. Every year, the first Sunday of Lent, the monks of St John's crossed the Jordan. They withdrew into the desert. Each monk went his separate way, to pray and fast alone until Palm Sunday. Zosimas also made this Lenten retreat. After walking twenty days in the desert, he saw a human figure at a distance. He made the sign of the cross, Then he began to pursue the stranger. He saw a creature with long white hair, As he drew near, he was begging it to stop. Mary stopped and called Zosimas by his name, she asked him for a cloak to cover herself. Zosimas was astonished that the stranger knew his name. At the same time, it revealed to him that she was a "vessel" of the Holy Spirit. Mary and Zosimas prostrated themselves, acknowledging the holiness of each other. Mary, respecting Zosimas as a priest, she asked for his blessing. Zosimas, certain that Mary was a saint, asked her to bless him. He declared to her saying: "Your grace is greater than mine." Zosimas had expected to find his spiritual superior among the monks in the monastery of St. John the Baptist. Instead, a woman in the desert outshone him. Mary wanted to know about Zosimas. And he answered all her questions. He called her "my spiritual mother," he begged her to pray for him. Mary stood in silent prayer, her arms stretched toward heaven. When Zosimas lifted his eyes, he saw St. Mary lifted above the ground. He thought that she might be a demon, But Mary, reading his unspoken thought, reassured him. "Do not doubt", she said, "I am only a sinful woman." Zosimas asked to hear her story. Mary described her sinful life for seventeen years in Alexandria, and her conversion in Jerusalem. Zosimas wondered how she managed to survive alone in the desert. Where did she find food to eat. She said she had two and a half loaves of bread. She said she ate the bread for years, although they became hard as rocks. She ate them little by little, then she lived on desert plants. The first seventeen years were the hardest With daily struggles against temptations. Songs of the devil, which she used to sing, haunted her and echoed through her head. When she was thirsty and had no water, She remembered the sweet wines of Egypt. She turned her thoughts to the Theotokos. Who always restored peace to her soul. Mary quoted from the Scriptures, the books of Moses, and the Psalms Although she lived alone in the desert, God revealed to her His words.