May 13, 2014

Saint Glykeria as a Model for our Lives

St. Glykeria the Virgin-Martyr (Feast Day - May 13)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Glykeria was born in Trajanopolis in the second century, during a period of persecution for the Church. She was arrested and ordered to deny Christ and to sacrifice to idols. After boldly confessing her faith she then prayed sincerely and immediately demolished the idol of Zeus. Pagans who were present stoned her with a fury, but by divine economy no stone touched her. This resulted in their denial of idolatry and many of those present believed in Christ who were well-intentioned.

After this event Saint Glykeria was tortured hard with many inhumane ways and then thrown as prey to a wild beast, which bit her, and thus her earthly life ended a few days later. Her sacred relic, which smelled of a heavenly fragrance, was buried by Christians in Heraclea.

Her life and deeds give us the opportunity to highlight the following:

The sacred hymnographer, in the Apolytikion he composed for Saint Glykeria, says among other things the following:

Let us honor the beautiful virgin of Christ, who excelled in the pain of contest. She trampled on the serpent although she was weak in the flesh. For love of Christ she despised her torments and was therefore glorified by God. Let us cry to her: Rejoice, O blessed Glykeria.

Indeed, the pain endured by the Saint because of the harsh and inhumane torture she incurred was much and it was impossible to endure, although the fortitude of her soul, by the Grace of God, made her stronger and comforted her.

Pain in human life has always been and will continue to be a major problem, since it is considered by almost everyone to be an unwelcome visitor, despite causing many good things when it is faced in each case in the prescribed manner. Pain is the result of the fall of man and sin. The first-formed in Paradise did not feel pain, but spiritual exultation, which was the result of their communion with the Holy Triune God. After their disobedience and their departure from Paradise, they wore leather tunics, and decay and death entered their lives, which bring pain and grief.

There is no one who has not experienced pain in life. We have all tasted and taste pain, others less and others more, as God allows according to the strength of each. To properly face pain, except for medical care in the case of bodily pain, one needs to have spiritual antibodies and make use of the drugs of salvation, which ultimately is absolute trust in the providence and love of the Holy Triune God, and patience and prayer that drip from a heart of peace, hope, consolation and spiritual bravery. Otherwise there is the danger of despair, which leads to depression and self-destruction.

Physical pain is beneficial in that it helps direct the treatment of illness. When physical illness does not cause pain, then there is a risk the illness will be diagnosed too late and treatment becomes difficult to impossible. Therefore, pain is a great benefaction and blessing from this view, since it makes possible an early diagnosis, and thus increases your chances for treatment.

Psychic pain, which is directly linked with the body, since man exists psychosomatically, cannot be addressed in an effective way without strength and consolation from on high, no matter how strong one's character is, since in some cases it is literally unbearable. This is why anyone who has learned to obey the divine commandments and to pray is able to derive consolation, patience and strength from the Source of consolation, patience and strength, Who is Christ, as well as the Panagia His Mother, and His friends the Saints. Otherwise this will lead to tragic results, such as nervous shock, depression and even suicide. And unfortunately there are many such examples, with tragic consequences for the family and the social environment.

Pain, as undesirable as it is, must be accepted in the course of our life as its greatest benefactor, because when it is faced properly it causes many good things. Among other things it bakes and aromatizes man and makes him useful to himself, his family, as well as all of society. Just like bread is useful when it is baked, dough is different which over time becomes useless. So also a man who is baked in the furnace of suffering becomes "God's precious bread", but he is also purified of the passions, like gold is purified in the furnace. This is why they radiate with the Grace of God, that dwells in their hearts, with their words and especially with their example.

We should not seek pain in our life, but when it comes we should accept it with bravery and patience, thanking and glorifying God for His providence, love and many great benefactions, and then pain is voluntary and considered a martyrdom.

May we all be made worthy, by the Grace of God and the prayers of Saint Glykeria, to excel in the "pain of contest". Because by pain the heart softens and is gradually purified, and the nous is illuminated and flies off to what is "beyond nature and approaches the supernatural" (Meletios Pegas).

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Καλλιπάρθενος Μάρτυς Γλυκερία", May 2009. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.