|Sts. Provos, Tarachos and Andronikos (Feast Day - October 12)|
By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas
Saints Provos, Tarachos and Andronikos lived and were martyred during the reign of Diocletian, who was one of the cruelest persecutors of the Church. They came from different places. Provos was from Pamphylia, Andronikos from Ephesus and Tarachos from Illyria. The Synaxarion says they were captured together while in the desert. They were of one soul and companions in life and death, or better, on earth and in heaven, since by the Resurrection of Christ death was trampled and abolished, and because the soul is immortal by Grace and life is not cut off with the temporary dissolution of the soul and body. "For there is no death, O Lord, to Thy departing servants who cast off their bodies and come unto Thee, O God, but a transition from sorrowful things to the pleasant and benign, to repose and joy" (Pentecost Prayers for Kneeling).
The three martyrs were arrested and tortured cruelly. The head of Saint Tarachos was skinned and the other two they blinded. Because they remained firm and steadfast in their faith, they were beheaded.
The sacred hymnographer describes the life and spiritual struggles of the three martyrs as follows:
"Girded with peaceable strength, you wrestled with the enemies ranks and glorified Christ, contesting for your exaltation. Renowned Provos, you advanced towards that which is more excellent, glorious Andronikos, the victory of the Church, and Tarachos, the serenity of the faithful; common thrice-shining martyrs." (Apolytikion, Tone 3)
We will now attempt to briefly comment on the two sections of this beautiful hymn:
First: "Girded with peaceable strength, you wrestled with the enemies ranks and glorified Christ, contesting for your exaltation."
The holy martyrs, armed with uncreated divine Grace ("peaceable strength"), wrestled with the devil, the enemy of human salvation, with their passions, which the Grace of God transformed, but also with the world, the secular mind that is, which contradicts the will of God, and they conquered. They did not oppose their fellow men, because the saints consider no man an enemy, no matter how sinful they are, but they love all as being in the image of Christ. Just as no one can hate the sick and be confrontational with them, but they fight their sickness by any means at their disposal, and they do this out of love for the sick person in order to cure them.
With the way they lived and by their disposition during the course of their earthly life, they became a cause for the name of the Triune God to be glorified throughout the ages, as well as the cause for many people to find the path of salvation.
Second: "Renowned Provos, you advanced towards that which is more excellent, glorious Andronikos, the victory of the Church, and Tarachos, the serenity of the faithful."
Saint Provos is lauded because he chose to "advance towards that which is more excellent", that is, from earthly and material things to spiritual and heavenly things, while Andronikos is called the "victory of the Church" and Saint Tarachos is called the "serenity of the faithful", although his name indicates rioting, which is the opposite of serenity.*
A name often reveals what a person is in actuality, while in other cases it suggests the opposite, as in the case of Saint Tarachos. As there are cases where one sees that there is no difference between being and seeming, while in other cases one finds the opposite. And this is not a rare occurrence, for many and various reasons. This is why it is necessary, especially in the spiritual life, for one to devise the ability to penetrate the depths of things to be able to uncover the non-phenomena, because the phenomena is usually deceiving.
Often the saints, in order to hide their spiritual gifts, appear to have another image externally from what is in actuality, in order to not be praised by men, because they are aware from their spiritual experience that no one is benefited spiritually from the praises of men. Instead, it is indeed possible to be harmed, especially when there is a lack of maturity in the spiritual life. Of course, there are cases when praise is beneficial. Saint Gregory the Theologian tells us: "Some are benefited by praise, others by rebuke", since each person has a different mentality, and different events take place in different situations, but one should not seek it.
The issue in the life of every person is salvation, and this is achieved with the life in Christ. An important role in achieving this aim is inner serenity, so that we can see things clearly and avoid serious mistakes. But this serenity is often lost due to various temptations and the sad events of human life. This is why constant watchfulness, uninterrupted spiritual struggle, and guidance from an experienced teacher in the spiritual life is needed, in order to be able to remain calm and unruffled in the midst of the showers and storms.
The saints, especially the Theotokos, are "the serenity of the faithful" and their support, and it is sufficient to resort to them and to seek their protection and intercessions. But to be able to communicate with them comfortably and in a friendly manner, you must obtain spiritual antennae, to "radiate" according to the same wavelength as them, or in other words, to harmonize your life with the life of the saints.
May the holy martyrs inspire us and strengthen us in our lives, to be able to repel the riotessness of the temptations and to preserve internal peace and serenity.
* Provos in Greek means "to advance", Andronikos means "man of victory", and Tarachos means "riotess".
Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΑΓΙΟΙ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΕΣ ΠΡΟΒΟΣ, ΤΑΡΑΧΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΑΝΔΡΟΝΙΚΟΣ", October 2006. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.