Okay, a little etymology from the Online Etymology Dictionary:
- ascetic (n.)
- "one of the early Christians who retired to the desert to live solitary lives of meditation and prayer," 1670s, from ascetic (adj.).
So Mark wasn't really a wrestler at all. He was just an ascetic and someone translated his name strangely. But there's a photo of the St. Mark's Wrestling Team below, just because...
Mark was a monk of the fifth century. He may have been a student of St. John Chrysostom, and he may have been a friend of Saint Nilus. You might read that he wrote over two hundred spiritual texts, but you might be less impressed when you realize that only some of those "texts" are only a sentence or two long. I've pasted three such texts below.
215. If a man falls into some sin and does not feel remorse for his offence as he should, he will easily fall into the same net again.
216. Just as a lioness does not make friends with a calf, so impudence does not gladly admit the remorse that accords with God’s will.
217. Just as a sheep does not mate with a wolf, so suffering of the heart does not couple with satiety for the conception of virtues.
If I have ever heard of the Messalian heresy before, I don't remember it. If I have in fact never heard of it, that's probably because Saint Mark opposed it so vigorously. Messalians taught that only prayer kept you in communion with the Holy Spirit and that sacraments failed to bring any grace. Even baptism, they argued, did not overcome the demons which plague and thwart us. The Third Ecumenical Council of Ephesus anathematized Messalianism in 431 -- a couple bishops named Valerian and Amphiliochius led the charge at the Council, so perhaps Mark was more of a field op shutting that noise down.
Here's one more from Mark as he weighs in on the faith / good works debate.
When Scripture says, ‘He will reward every man according to his works’ (Matthew 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the Kingdom. On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but God our Creator and Redeemer.