Saturday, February 1, 2014

Saint Tryphon the Great Martyr as a Model for our Lives

St. Tryphon of Lampsakos (Feast Day - February 1)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

"When I was in Lampsakos and cared for and herded geese, the wrath of God fell, not only on that place, but in all the surrounding area. The rage was in the vineyards, the gardens and the leaves, and the fruit rotted and no longer appeared. When I, the leastest Tryphon, saw the fruits rotting and the people languishing with sorrow for the cause of the disappearance of the fruits of the earth, the fields, the vineyards, the gardens, the vegetables and all the trees, I prayed to my Lord and God that all the beasts perish that caused the injustice and damage to the gardens, the fields, the vineyards and all the trees and vegetables, and to all those who inhabit the small town, which is located near the lake, who came by my request and invitation. And while I knelt and prayed to God with upraised hands, God, who listens to those who have established their hope in Him, He sent forth and angel, who killed the criminal beasts that destroyed the vineyards, the gardens, and the place of His servants, and these beasts he knew well by name and they are as follows: caterpillar, worm, caterpillar worm, weevil, mole cricket, locust, epimalos, kaligaris, makropoys, ant, louse, rygitis, psyllid, cutworm, claviceps purpurea, snail, catachlorops and everything else that destroys and withers the grapes and other species and vegetables. But I myself, however, have bound them to an oath for them not to come and live in the places where I am invited, but I ordered for them to go away to places that have not been stepped on by man."

And then Saint Tryphon goes on to state the oath by which he bound the above-named "beasts", as he calls them. The above narrative and oath of the Saint is found in the Small Euchologion and is read by priests in the vineyards and gardens, usually after the celebration of the Sanctification of the Waters, and with holy water he sprinkles the trees and plants.

Saint Tryphon, as was mentioned above in what is somewhat of an autobiography, came from Lampsakos and lived during the reigns of Gordian, Philip and Decius. Very poor from his childhood, he was forced for a time to herd geese to survive. And while he worked, at the same time he reflected on Holy Scripture and with zeal he applied the commandments of Christ. And indeed, his pious curiosity became able to slowly-slowly not only know much for himself, but he also taught others. He received such Grace from God, so that the sick he healed miraculously. Indeed, Emperor Gordian, who had been informed about the miracles performed by Tryphon, summoned him and he was brought before him in order to heal his sick daughter. The Saint prayed, the daughter became well, and since he refused the honors and ranks offered by Emperor Gordian, he left politely. In the days of Decius, however, he was arrested. He boldly confessed Christ, and endured horrible torture with admirable fortitude, patience and prayer. Because he came out of this unharmed, they beheaded him.

Today, the natural environment and people are not in danger so much from the "beasts" mentioned above, but more so from the iron beasts that pollute and poison the atmosphere and scatter death. These constructions are of human arrogance and intolerance from "the rulers of the Gentiles who lord over". That is, this terrible disaster is due to human passions, and especially the great passion of sensuality, avarice and vanity, all of which are rooted in selfishness. On the altar of this hollow and transient glory of sensual enjoyment and material interest everything is sacrificed. Innocent creatures, daily, are killed or are dying, creation is altered, infected, and then it "retaliates". Man essentially is destroying himself.

The reaction of those who love God and His creation watching this catastrophe must be similar to that of Saint Tryphon, because it is the only way that can bring results. Namely, prayers and exorcisms by which the demon is whisked away, that father of lies and the source of all evil, who acts through man. Saint Symeon the New Theologian says that the devil fights against us through human passions, both ours and our fellowmen. Besides, the devil, as Saint Symeon characteristically stresses, would be completely helpless without them, because we would do our cross and he would disappear. According to the example, therefore, of Saint Tryphon, let us also say with humility: "When I, the leastest Tryphon, saw the fruits rotting ... I prayed to my Lord."

The Saints, because with prayer, asceticism and the sacramental life have been purified of their passions and acquired selfless love, they are a source of blessing to their fellowmen, as well as to the natural environment. Unlike those who are dominated by their passions, without struggling to be healed; they are a source of contamination and a source of anomalies for the destiny in which they live and move. When they hold power, then they are a wound on the region and for the entire human race.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΜΕΓΑΛΟΜΑΡΤΥΣ ΤΡΥΦΩΝ", February 2001. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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