ST MARK
     THE ANCHORITE

    5 April

    There have been very few persons who loved Jesus Christ as much as did Saint Mark the Anchorite of Thrace.
    When Saint Mark was a little boy in Greece, he did not even know about Jesus. He was a pagan __ a person who worships demons.
    Mark's parents were very rich and they sent him to the best schools. Mark became very well educated and knew all the things that books teach. He could have become a famous philosopher and been very rich.
    But God knew the heart of Saint Mark and knew that he would accept salvation. The Lord touched Mark's heart and opened his spiritual eyes, and Mark became a Christian. Soon, he began to understand that people who love the world and the things in it are not really very intelligent. "Why do I want to become rich and famous?" Mark thought. "I will die like anyone else and what good will money and fame be to me then?"
    Saint Mark wanted to love Christ more than anything else. He wanted to be with Christ and talk with Him all the time. Saint Mark gave away everything that he had. He prayed and asked the Lord to bless him and lead him, then he went away to be alone with Christ.
    There are many beautiful places on the earth, but Saint Mark did not wish to go to any of them. He did not want to see any beauty except our Saviour. Following the path along which God led him, Saint Mark came to a terrible desert in Egypt. The desert was dry and hot and Mark had almost no food, but God helped him and gave him the strength to cross the desert.
    At last, Saint Mark came to a high mountain called Thrace, near the Red Sea. Here, he found a cave and began to live in it.
    For ninety-five years Saint Mark lived all alone in this cave, never seeing another person. During this time, Satan often tried to trick the saint into leaving or committing sins. But Saint Mark just made the sign of the cross, said his prayers and trusted in God.
    At first, the saint would become so thirsty that he would often drink sea water, and so hungry that he would sometimes eat soil.
    God knew the great spiritual strength of Saint Mark, and so He allowed the saint to suffer all these things in order to give him a greater reward in the Heavenly Kingdom.
    Because of his sufferings, Saint Mark learned how much the passions depend upon the stomach. He also learned how weak and helpless man really is without the help of God. All this taught Saint Mark true humility. The more truly humble the saint became, the more God gave him the gifts of Grace. The more the saint conquered his passions, the more he became filled with the Holy Spirit.
    God's angels brought food and water to Saint Mark and he was granted visions of heaven and of Christ our Saviour.
    When Saint Mark reached the age of about 130, the time for him to depart this life arrived. God wanted the whole world to learn from Saint Mark's life and to know the glory of His servant.
    Just before the saint was going to repose, the Lord sent two angels to a very humble elder named Serapion. Serapion also lived in Egypt. The two angels who appeared to the elder told him about Saint Mark, saying, "And in forty days,
he will die."
    Serapion was filled with joy. He wanted to see this holy saint, and learn about Christ's love from him.
    Protected by God and guided by the two angels, Serapion set out across the burning desert. Coming at last to the cave of Saint Mark, Serapion bowed to the ground before him and asked for his blessing.
    Saint Mark told Serapion all about his life, his struggles with Satan and how Christ comforted him and covered him with love.
    In order to teach Serapion, and us of the Grace of the Holy Spirit with which His saints are filled, God worked a great miracle.
    Saint Mark was asking Saint Serapion about the Christians living in the cities and asked, "Are there still saints in the world who are able to work miracles and wonders? Are there yet saints who do the works of faith in Christ, as it is written in the Gospel, if you have faith, you will say to this mountain, `Move from your place and fall into the sea,' it will do so?"
    As the saint was saying the words, "Move from your place and fall into the sea," he pointed his hand at a nearby mountain. At once the mountain obeyed the words of God's saint and began to move toward the sea.
    Serapion was terrified and he fell trembling to the ground.
    Saint Mark turned to the mountain and commanded, "I did not mean for you to move, remain in your place!" And the mountain at once returned to its place. In this way the truth of the Gospel words were shown to the world.
    At the end of the day, he said to Serapion, "Today I will die, and the Lord has sent you to bury me. Stay with me and we will chant the vigil service."
    Saint Mark told Serapion the whole history of his life, his great struggles in the desert, and taught him many other things. Then as evening approached, he began to chant the vigil.
    As they finished chanting the service, Saint Serapion heard a voice from heaven saying, "Bring Me the champion of the desert, the pillar of patience, My blessed and faithful servant Mark. Mark, come to rest in the place of the righteous!"
    Then Serapion saw angels come and carry away the radiant soul of Saint Mark. And the wonder-filled elder saw radiant light reaching down from heaven, which took the invisible, bodiless soul of Saint Mark.
    Serapion prayed there all night. In the morning, he chanted the funeral service over the sacred relics of the saint and sealed them up in the cave with stones.
    As Serapion set out for home, the two angels who had brought him to Saint Mark appeared to him again. One of them said, "Today, you have buried a body of which the whole world is not worthy." (Hb.11:37-38).