February 7, 2014

Saint Luke of Mount Steirion as a Model for our Lives

Hosios Loukas (Feast Day - February 7)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The venerable Luke was born in 896 A.D. in Aegina, but raised in Phocis where he moved to with his family. He was generous and industrious and helped his parents in agricultural work. After his studies at school he helped his father in agricultural work. While grazing the animals of his father he studied various spiritual books, especially Holy Scripture, and would pray. After his father exited this temporary life, he was the comfort and support of his mother, caring for her in an exemplary way until the end of her earthly life. After her repose, he actualized the desire of his soul, which was to live in imitation of the angels. After first distributing his riches to the poor, he then erected a hut in a deserted place near the sea and lived in asceticism and prayer.

When the Bulgarians invaded Central Greece, the Venerable One fled to the Peloponnese. However, he returned to Central Greece in 927, and finally settled on Mount Steirion in Boeotia. The reputation of the venerable Luke caused many to come near him and become monastics under his inspired guidance, and this forced him to establish a Monastery.

He reposed in the Lord on February 7, 953.

His life and deeds give us the opportunity to emphasize the following:

When one studies carefully the lives of the saints it is discovered, among other things, that they were people with great sensitivity and compassion for their fellow human beings, and they stood by them and comforted them in every way. And this is, one might say, very natural, because whoever loves God, loves his fellow men, who are icons of Christ. And because the saints love everyone, even their enemies, it is impossible for them not to love and be concerned for their household and especially their parents. Indeed, they nourish for them a deep respect and great love, which is manifested on every occasion and especially in difficult moments of their lives, such as illnesses and old age. Saint John Chrysostom cared for his mother, Saint Anthusa, and after her repose he actualized his desire and retired to the desert to devote himself to the worship of the Holy Triune God. And Saint Gregory the Theologian stood by his mother and looked after her personally when she was ill. He wrote the following in a letter to Basil the Great: "For I am sitting by my lady, my mother, who has for a long time been suffering from illness."

Many examples could be mentioned, but we believe that the above is enough to reveal that the behavior of saints to their parents is admirable and reveals the greatness of their sensitivity and that true love filled their hearts.

This behavior of the saints to their parents, should be a model and example for our behavior towards our parents. After all, the love of children towards their parents, as well as parents towards their children, and generally to all relatives of the flesh, is not particularly important, since it is natural love and even unreasonable animals display the same, which indeed often shows their remarkable and exemplary manner. That is, this love is in the nature of man, and it doesn't require a struggle or effort for its acquisition, and for this reason it is neither reprehensible nor worthy of praise.

Reprehensible is the love that is based on the passions, especially the passion of self-love, which is the source of all the other passions, namely sensuality, avarice, vanity, etc. This love is false, selfish, and it has an expiration date, since it only lasts as long as the passions are satisfied. That is, when the beloved person, for various reasons, stops satisfying the passion or passions, then, at best, love ceases. There is the possibility, and there are many examples, that passionate love turns into hatred and vindictiveness.

Worthy of praise is selfless love, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is given to those who struggle with pain and effort to acquire it. He who lives in the Church and struggles by the Grace of God to heal their passions and dominate over them, will acquire selfless love, which according to Saint Maximus the Confessor, is "the grandchild of dispassion" and thus is true and without expiration. The bearer of unconditional love, since they love all, even their enemies, it is impossible not also to love their parents, as well as everyone in their household.

We must be aware, and bear in mind, that the spiritual law is in operation, according to which what one does, sooner or later, will stand before them. This means that the behavior of our children to us will be commensurate with our behavior towards our parents, since, after all, children generally imitate the example of their parents. Of course, one cannot ignore the conditions of life, the difficulties and problems of contemporary man, and especially those who live in a big city, but nevertheless there are solutions to all problems, provided that there is a will and benevolent disposition. Anyone who truly loves, will always find ways to express their love, kindness and humanity.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΟΣΙΟΣ ΛΟΥΚΑΣ Ο ΕΝ ΣΤΕΙΡΙΩ", February 2008. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.