July 7, 2014

Saint Kyriaki as a Model for our Lives

St. Kyriaki the Virgin Martyr (Feast Day - July 7)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The reign of Diocletian (3rd century A.D.) revealed many Martyrs, who shine like multi-luminous stars in the noetic firmament of the Church of Christ. One of them is Saint Kyriaki. Raised in an environment of reverence and love for the true God, she was raised in the admonition of the life of the gospel and became, according to the sacred hymnographer, a spring with much water that watered the Church and made her bear fruit. "Like a spring of much flowing water, Virgin Martyr of Christ, you watered His Church, Wise One, and contested excellently...."

Having been born on the first day of the week, which is dedicated to the Lord (Kyrio), she was named Kyriaki. She was the fruit of prayer, a gift of God to Dorotheos and Eusebia, her parents who were barren and prayed to God one night with much faith and love to be given a child. "The just cried, and the Lord heard them, and delivered them out of all their troubles", the sacred Psalmist tells us. According to their promise they raised her in "the education and admonition of the Lord", according to the Apostle Paul, and offered her as a return gift to God. This dedication and offering, however, was not against her will. Her parents inspired her with love for God and helped her live that way of life which is hidden from the eyes of most. Beyond the phenomena which often deceive and disappoint there are the non-phenomena, the inner life of the soul, which has another purpose and another perspective. It aims for high things, "in another galaxy", as the poet says, and causes other joys and thrills. Besides, the Martyrdom to which she went willingly was not the result of a strong will or strong character, but the fruit of a life "hidden with Christ in God". It is the fruit of the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells in the pure hearts of the saints.

The carnal life has as a paramount purpose the life of pleasure, but it is intertwined with bitterness and suffering. Modern man is tired and disappointed with his way of life, but also with the harsh social conditions, not always finding the right way to the true manner and purpose of life, and so he turns towards pleasure. But this causes more pain and suffering, thus creating a vicious circle. The only way out of this modern maze is the discovery and experience of another life, a new life, which is lived with labor and pain, and causes inner fulfillment and true joy which are fruits of the Holy Spirit. "The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance" (Gal. 5:22-23). The spiritual life is difficult, which is why it is beautiful. It gives life to the soul and subdues the flesh, that is, the mind of the flesh becomes subject to the spirit. In theological language, we say that it rescues that which is "according to the image". "In you, O mother was carefully preserved what is according to the image. For you took up the Cross and followed Christ. By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh for it passes away, but to care instead for the soul since it is immortal. Therefore, O Venerable..., your spirit rejoices with the Angels" (Apolytikion for a Monastic Saint). Conversely the sensual life makes the flesh animalistic and deadens the soul, with the result that it does not have the ability to aim for a higher target and experience a higher life, which gives value to man as a psychosomatic being. The Witness and Martyrdom of Saint Kyriaki was the seal of this true life and the achievement of the purpose of life which is theosis, a living communion with the Triune God.

The people of God love the saints very much, the true friends of God, and they honor them in any way, with various events and especially festivities on the day of their commemoration. In mountainous Nafpaktos, in an idyllic location at 1200 meters, among the firs, there is a true Romaic celebration. After gathering for worship in the beautiful Church of Saint Kyriaki, there follows a gathering with traditional music and songs. The eucharistic table is followed by the material table, since man is a psychosomatic being. In a wondrous way balance and unity are experienced in the Orthodox Church.

The festival of the venerable Kyriaki in Leptokarya is a spiritual rebaptism in the admonition of Orthodoxy and Romiosini. By her birth the Saint brought great joy to her parents. With her continuous presence and intercessions, and her annual festival , it causes true joy and jubilation to the inhabitants of Nafpaktos and the surrounding region, as well as the entire Orthodox inhabited world.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΟΣΙΟΜΑΡΤΥΣ ΚΥΡΙΑΚΗ", July 1998. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.