August 14 – Micah the Prophet; Athanasia of Aegina

Micah the Prophet (VIII c. BC(E)) came from Moreshet, and was called a Morashti. You now know everything we know about his personal life. In his prophecy, he warned Israel and Judah that if they didn’t clean up their act, they were gonna get smote. Smited. Smitten. Smate. Clobbered. He spoke particularly to the injustice perpetrated by the rich people (one site says “ruling classes,” which at the time were the same as the rich people, unlike today) (that was sarcasm) against the working class. Samaria, the capital of ancient Israel, was destroyed a mere quarter of a century later. The rulers of Jerusalem officially repented, but it proved temporary (until the next election), as did their reprieve. The city was sacked 150 years later by the Babylonians, beginning the much-discussed Babylonian Captivity. Sadly Micah was not around to say “Told you so.”

A sampling of Micah’s prophecy:

Woe to those who plan iniquity, to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out because it is in their power to do it.
They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes, they rob them of their inheritance. (2:1–2, NIV)

Micah prophesied that Israel and Judah would turn back to the Lord, and their land would be healed. Of course we none of us should turn away in the first place, but peoples is peoples.

Athanasia of Aegina (ca. 790–860) one day experienced, in her young girlhood and while sitting at the loom, a “mystical union” of a star with her heart (as opposed to a “literal union” of a star with her heart, which seems downright dangerous). From that day she wanted to join a convent, but an imperial decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all men must go—wait, that was Mary and Joseph. An imperial decree went out saying all women of marriageable age must marry a soldier (not the same one for all of them, of course; that would be silly). This was called the Widowmaker Law, or should have been, for, sure enough, a mere sixteen days after her wedding, Athanasia was widowed when her soldier-husband died in battle, as soldiers were, alas, wont to do in those days.

Just when she thought she was free to run off to a monastery, another decree came from another emperor (Michael the Stammerer) to the same effect. Her new husband, however, a deeply religious man, proved sturdier, and before Michael the Stammerer could say “Michael the Stammerer,” they were helping the sick and the poor in their home. Soon he (the husband not the emperor) asked Athanasia if she would mind terribly, he was very sorry, he’d understand if she said No, would she mind if he ran off and became a monk?

After a covert fist pump, Athanasia sent him on his way, gave their household goods to the poor, and turned their home into a convent. In time she and the sisters removed to Timia (on Aegina), then to Constantinople, then back to Timia. She was trying to avoid the masses, but that became difficult once her miraculous healing powers became known.

She instructed her nuns to feed the poor in her name for 40 days after her death, but they left off after nine. She appeared to them, chewed them out good, slammed her staff into the ground, and disappeared. The next day her staff had sprouted into a tree. A year later a demon-possessed woman turned up at the convent, thinking she could be healed if she could only touch Athanasia’s body. They dug up the saint, only to find she was incorrupt and streaming myrrh. Sure enough, the possessed woman was healed. Athanasia’s relics remain in Timia, and retain healing powers.