Sunday, September 7, 2014

Saint Eupsychios as a Model for our Lives

Holy Martyr Eupsychios (Feast Day - September 7)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Eupsychios lived between the first and second centuries in Caesarea of Cappadocia during the reign of Hadrian. At a young age he was catechized in the Orthodox faith, baptized and became a living member of the Church. He came from a wealthy family, but, following the example of the saints, he distributed his possessions to the poor and lived in voluntary poverty and simplicity.

He was arrested, along with many others, and was ordered to sacrifice to idols. Unsurprisingly, he refused to do this and thus was cruelly tortured. After the pagan ruler saw that despite the harsh torture he did not deny his faith, but boldly confessed Christ as God and the Savior of men, he ordered the blood stained one to be thrown in jail after being cruelly tortured and having his side ripped. Finally, because he continued to live, they beheaded him and in this way he received the incorruptible crown of martyrdom.

The martyr Eupsychios was a patron and protector of the Church of Caesarea of Cappadocia, as one can see from the correspondence of Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea. In a letter to Saint Eusebius, Bishop of Samosata, among others, he invites him to Caesarea and hopes his visit will coincide with the feast of the patron saint of Caesarea, the martyr Eupsychios. "If it is possible, may your visit happen during the synaxis, which annually takes place on the occasion of the commemoration of the blessed martyr Eupsychios, on the seventh of September, which is already approaching." And since before the feast of Saint Eupsychios the anniversary of the Hospital for the Poor was celebrated, for this reason he wrote to Saint Amphilochios, Bishop of Iconium: "So, then, that the Lord may be glorified, the people delighted, the martyrs honored, and that I in my old age may receive the attention due to me from my true son, do not refuse to travel to me with all speed. I will beg you too to anticipate the day of the synaxis, that so we may converse at leisure and may comfort one another by the interchange of spiritual gifts. The day is the seventh of September. Come then three days beforehand in order that you may also honor with your presence the Church of the Hospital."

The life and disposition of the glorious martyr Eupsychios gives us the opportunity to highlight the following:

First, the memorial day of a saint is designated by their repose, because it is the day of their birth, that is, the day on which they left this temporary life and entered the kingdom of heaven. This is why it is not a day of mourning, pain and sorrow, but a day of joy, gladness and celebration for the entire Church, and especially for the Local Church that particularly celebrates and honors their patron. And on this day of their feast there takes place in the sacred church where they are celebrated, a synaxis of the members of the church, Clergy and laity. "Today there is convened for us the celebration of the glorious martyr, gladdening all those who love feasts...."

It is worth noting that at the memorials of the saints there are offered kollyva in the sacred churches, but a Trisagion is not done and the prayer "Among the spirits of the righteous..." is not read, by which we pray to God for the repose of their soul, but rather the following prayer is said from the First Saturday of Great Lent in which we ask their blessings, prayers and the intercessions of the saints:

"O Lord, Who hast brought all things to perfection through Thy Word and hast commanded the earth to bring forth all manner of fruits for our enjoyment and food, Who through grain and vegetables hast made the Three Holy Children and Daniel fairer than the Babylonians who lived in luxury: Do Thou Thyself, O all-good King, bless this grain and fruit, and sanctify those who shall partake of them, for they have been offered by Thy servants to Thy glory, in honor and memory of the Great-Martyr Theodore, and for a memorial to those who have fallen asleep in the true Orthodox faith. Grant, O good One, to those who have prepared this offering and who keep this memorial, all their petitions that are for their salvation, and count them worth to rejoice in Thine eternal blessings, through the intercessions of our all-immaculate Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary, of (celebrated saints name), whose memory we celebrate today, and of all Thy saints. For Thou it is Who dost bless and sanctify all things, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thine unoriginate Father and Thine all-holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen."

This Eucharistic synaxis of the members of the church is always an occasion for joy and feasting, especially during the days of the feasts of the Lord and the Mother of God, as well as the commemorations of the saints and the patron saint of the church community, who rejoices and celebrates together with the faithful and "prevails in feasting".

The participation from various places of Clergy and laity at feasts is an old custom and an opportunity for spiritual replenishment, as well as personal communication among the members of the Church.

Second, the first beatitude of Christ refers to spiritual poverty and there the "poor in spirit" are blessed. The poor in spirit are not idiots and fools, as many think, but those who recognize their spiritual poverty, namely the humble. These people also love material poverty to such an extent so that when they don't have it, they rush to acquire it through love and almsgiving. And they do this out of great love for mankind, and also because they know from experience that true wealth is the uncreated Grace of God, which gives fulfillment and meaning to life. This is why all the saints, like the Apostles, were enriched and enriched many, because "having nothing they gave everything" (2 Cor. 6:10).

He who knows Christ empirically feels internal completeness and this is why the material things of this world seem like useless objects, like chaff, as did the Apostle Paul, who said: "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ" (Philipp. 3:8).

The various social anomalies and small or big problems in society are caused by spiritually ill people, dominated by the passion of self-love, by which are born all the other passions, such as avarice, sensuousness, snobbiness, etc. The saints, as having been purified from the passions and are spiritually healthy, are a source of blessings for the people and creation, and for the whole world.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΑΓΙΟΣ ΜΑΡΤΥΣ ΕΥΨΥΧΙΟΣ", September 2007. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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