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February 20, 2010

A Strange Custom Related to St. Theodore the Tyro

Many cultures have various customs to help young girls find a future husband. This has been going on since ancient times and back then often pagan rituals were incorporated. When these cultures drifted away from paganism toward Christianity, it was often quite natural to christianize these customs of their pagan past as much as possible, though they still can be quite dangerous and should be avoided if possible. One such example was a strange occurrence that happened to my sister in 1996 when she was 23.

My sister was a single young woman at the time and her godmother told her about a custom she had learned while in Greece by which method she would be able to know the name of her future husband. She was told by her godmother to go to the Divine Liturgy on the First Saturday of Souls which is dedicated to the miracle of the kolyva performed by St. Theodore the Tyro. When she got there, she was to place some wheat behind the icon of St. Theodore in the narthex, then after the Liturgy remove it. That night my sister was informed to read a customary prayer to St. Theodore, place the wheat under her pillow, and by doing this she would be able to see the name of her future husband in her sleep. My sister did all of this and slept.

That night, as she related to me the next morning, she had an incredibly vivid dream like she never had in her life. An image of the face of my uncle Jimmy, whose baptismal name is Dimitrios, appeared in an almost heavenly and peaceful form. As she saw this she heard the voice of a man clearly saying the name "Dimitri" over and over again. When she woke up it had made such an impression on her that it was as if she had received a divine revelation.

A year later she met a man named Dimitri, they got married in October of 1998, they are still married and have a beautiful daughter named Christiana.

Ironic? Coincidence? Miracle? Demonic? I'll leave it to the reader's concience to decide.

Though I ordinarily discourage such customs, I also am honest enough to acknowledge their empirical validity if they have any. This is something my sister's godmother whole-heartedly believes in and she whole-heartedly considers this to be a miracle of St. Theodore. The danger in such practices is that it could lead to a belief in astrology, fate, and the interpretation of dreams, all of which are highly discouraged and even forbidden in the Orthodox Church with good reason, as they are means of opening oneself up to demonic influence and heresies opposed to free-will and divine providence. But something like this, much like belief in the evil eye, can be tolerated by the Church as long as it is not paganized.