|Oriental Orthodox (Non-Chalcedonian) perspective, which may differ from an Eastern Orthodox (Chalcedonian) understanding.|
Abouna Matta El Meskeen (or El-Maskeen or Matthew the Poor - born Youssef Eskander in 1919 - departed on 8 June 2006) is a Coptic Orthodox monk and also the Spiritual Father of 130 monks in the Monastery of St. Macarius the Great in the Wilderness of Scetis, Egypt. He is also a renowned Orthodox theologian, and author of voluminous texts on Biblical exegesis, Ecclesiastical rites, spiritual and theological matters, and much more.
Abouna Matta is celebrated by many Copts as a reformer and a prominent figure in recent Coptic history. Alongside two others (Bishop Samuel and Bishop [Now Pope] Shenouda), Abouna Matta was a candidate for the Patriarchal throne in 1971, following the repose of Pope Kyrillos VI.
Abouna Matta was once Pope Shenouda's confessor during the 1950s. But today, there seems to be some misunderstandings between both leaders and their followers , e.g., recently in relation to the concept of theosis (see discussion at ), and also regarding Father Matta's position on Mark 16.
Abouna Matta El Meskeen was born in Benha, elKaliobia, Egypt, in 1919. In 1944, he graduated in Pharmacy from the University of Cairo. After leading a successful life and establishing a wealthy lifestyle for himself--Eskander at the time was the owner of two pharmacies, two villas, and two cars--he renounced his material possessions in 1948, and entered the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Qualmun (roughly near Maghagha, Upper Egypt).
After living for a few years in the Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in Qualmun, Abouna Matta decided to move out into Wadi El Rayan in the late 1950s. There, he lived as a recluse in the spirit of the ancient Desert Fathers for twelve years. By 1960, seven other monks joined him. The community expanded to twelve by 1964. These twelve monks were sent to Wadi El Natroun in 1969. ...
- "Whenever physical hunger turned cruel against me, I found my gratification in prayer. Whenever the biting cold of winter was unkind to me, I found my warmth in prayer. Whenever people were harsh to me (and their harshness was severe indeed) I found my comfort in prayer. In short, prayer became my food and my drink, my outfit and my armor, whether by night or by day." --Fr. Matta El-Meskeen
- "It is no joy for the church to have many active members of varied services who lack the spiritual proficiency for renewing souls and regenerating them in a genuine spiritual rebirth to win them for the Kingdom of Heaven. The true joy of the Church lies in leaders who possess spiritual insight, who walk ahead of their flocks so that the flocks can follow a sure path. It is not possible to obtain spiritual insight by action or study, spiritual insight is attained by silence, retreat and long prayers in their various stages." --Fr. Matta El-Meskeen
Sources and further details
- Fr Matta El-Meskeen and Pope Shenouda III: Two strong-willed reformers bring Coptic Orthodoxy back to life (Christianity Today, December 3, 2001)
- The Monastery of St. Macarius
- Video interview of Fr Matta El-Meskeen
- Book: "Orthodox Prayer Life: The Interior Way," by Father Matta El-Maskeen
- Book: "The Communion of Love," by Father Matta El-Maskeen
- Articles by Fr Matta El-Meskine Translated into English
- Fr Matta El-Meskeen (Wikipedia)
- Father Matta al-Miskeen (1919-2006): A life well-lived (article in English - Watani newspaper 11JUN06)
- Between Pope (87) Matthew the Poor, Anba Abraam, and the departed Fr Matta El-Meskeen (with a comprehensive biography of the latter)
- Photo of Fr Matta's tomb in the mountain near his monastery, Video (See also  (Arabic).)