• Epistle Reading
  • In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! Today we celebrate the memory of Saint Euthymius the New of Thessalonica and Mt Athos. He’s not really a saint that we hear about very often. You know, there are many saints that we’re very familiar with…that are “popular” for one reason or another. But if you think about it a moment, it becomes obvious that all of the Saints share in the life of God. All of the Saints are a very important example for us; they all have a multitude to teach us. Because their life is the image of the life of Christ. Many of the saints tell us that if we were to only read the lives of the Saints, it would be the same as reading the Scriptures or the writings of the Fathers. In the life of a Saint is contained everything we could find about God anywhere else. They live the fullness of Christian life, of human existence. So I’d like us to look at the life and struggles of St. Euthymius for Christ in light of the Epistle we heard a moment ago. St. Paul tells us that we must give ourselves to God with a cheerful heart. We offer our lives to Christ because we love Him. So everything that we undertake in the Christian life–all the praying, and fasting, and other labors to overcome the passions–we offer these to Christ in a spirit of thanksgiving. Not begrudgingly, with the thought that “now I have to do this.” Every day we begin fresh, and offer ourselves to the Lord. And in return, St. Paul tells us, Christ will pour our His grace abundantly. If we sow in the spiritual vineyard abundantly, we’ll reap the abundance of eternal life. St. Euthymius sowed in the vineyard of Christ abundantly. His parents, Epiphanius and Anna, led virtuous Christian lives, and from childhood their son was meek, pious and obedient. Often we see virtue in the life of a saint from a very young age—reminding us of the importance of a godly upbringing, and pious and God-loving parents. At the age of seven his father reposed, and he soon became the sole supporter of his mother. He entered military service and was later married, at the insistence of his mother. After the birth of a daughter, he secretly left home in order to enter a monastery. Now, this is something that seems strange to us today. And in fact, in the life of the Church, a married man leaving his family to become a monk is a rare occurrence. And we could even question the morality of a decision like that. But in the end, we know it was a part of his life, and we know he’s a Saint. God guides each of us in the way we should go—and the path of others doesn’t always seem to make sense from a worldly perspective, and even from a “spiritual” perspective. We’ll see in a minute, however, that this decision not only impacts the lives of St. Euthymius and his immediate family, but his decision to enter the monastic life influences many other Christians, as well. For fifteen years the venerable Euthymius lived the ascetic life on Mount Olympus, where he learned the monastic life from the Elders. He then went to resettle on Mount Athos. On the way to the Holy Mountain, he learned that his mother and wife were in good health. He told them that he had become a monk, and he sent them a cross, calling on them to follow his example. On Mt Athos he was tonsured into the Great Schema and lived for three years in a cave in total silence, struggling with temptations and passions. After fifteen years of living the monastic life—a life totally dedicated to prayer and serving God—he still continued to struggle against sin. Sometimes we get frustrated in the spiritual life, thinking we should be much further along than we are. That we should be so much more like Christ than we are. But in the life of St. Euthymius, we see the power of sin. We see how weak our human nature is. Even if we strive to be like Christ all the time, it’s a life that continues to be a daily taking up of our Crosses to follow Christ. St Euthymius also lived for a long time as a stylite, not far from Thessalonica, instructing those coming to him for advice and healing the sick. The monk cleansed his mind and heart, by the grace of God, to such an extent that he was granted divine visions and revelations. After much struggle and prayer, St. Euthymius was granted what all Christians long for—to see the face of his Saviour. At the command of the Lord, St Euthymius founded two monasteries near Thessalonica, which he guided for 14 years, as an ordained deacon. In one of these his wife and mother received monastic tonsure. No matter how strange it might seem for him to leave his family and become a monk, we see what incredible fruit Christ gave for this life. St. Euthymius was healed—and remember that St. Seraphim of Sarov said that where one man is being saved, thousands around him will be affected. One person being purified affects all the cosmos, brings a bit of healing into the broken-ness our sin causes in creation. So not only was the Saint granted salvation, he was also made the spiritual father of two monasteries he founded, where countless others would work out their own salvation. And among those who came, were his wife and his mother. Before his death he settled on Hiera, an island of Mt Athos, where he reposed in 898. His relics were transferred to Thessalonica, where he had struggled as a stylite and spiritual father of the monasteries he had founded. Holy Father Euthymius, pray to the merciful Lord that we also will be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to sow the seeds of faith, and reap the fruit of eternal life. Glory to Jesus Christ!