preacher, who had studied the early spiritual fathers and had for some time been the disciple of 'Abd al-Masîh al-IHabashî. As a strong spiritual leader without any bonds to the pre-revolution Coptic elite, Patriarch Kyrillos VI could cooperate well with Nasser and strengthen the position of the church in general and Coptic monasticism in particular. With his support, hermits and young enthusiastic monks undertookto rebuild and revive the old monasteries, which then attracted young men from Cairo and elsewhere.
In the monasteries the teachings from the Sunday Schools were supplemented by readings of the Church Fathers and especially the monastic fathers. This necessitated modern Arabic translations of key patristic texts; numerous works, especially those of St Athanasios and St Cyril but also the homilies of St Makarios, have been translated. Also required was a training of a more patristic and less scholastic type. Thus, the monastic revival has laid a basis for a patristic revival as well as a modern Coptic Orthodox theological literature grounded in early monastic theology, its most prominent and prolific representative being the abbot of the monastery of St Makarios, Father Matta al-Miskin.
Father Matta was born and grew up in Alexandria, where he became a successful pharmacist before he turned monk in 1948. He fully engaged himself in the reading of the early monastic Fathers and soon began to write extensively on spiritual life, quoting the Fathers, especially St Isaak of Nineveh. In the 1960s Matta al-Miskin refused to be enrolled in a monastery and decided to live with his disciples as hermits in Wadî Rayan. Here they established an ascetic life according to the tradition of the first monastic movement and continued to study the writings of the Fathers. In 1969 he and his disciples were asked to take over the almost ruined monastery of St Makarios. Under his leadership the monastery was enlarged and completely renovated, and soon attracted numerous young monks.43
An important feature characteristic of Matta al-Miskin's writings is their concentration on the incarnation, prayer and communion. In the tradition of so many of the early Fathers, especially St Athanasios and St Cyril of Alexandria, two of Matta al-Miskin's favourite Fathers, the incarnation is central to his theology. The incarnation reconciles heaven and earth. Through the incarnation man is given the capacity to transform transience of life into a history of salvation. Another important aspect of this emphasis on the incarnation is Matta al-Miskin's view on the historical character of Christian faith. Especially
43 S. Tyvaert, 'Matta el Maskine et le renouveau du monastere de saint Macaire', Istina 48 (2003), 160-79.
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