July 17, 2014

Saint Marina the Great Martyr as a Model for our Lives

St. Marina the Great Martyr (Feast Day - July 17)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The memory of a saint is an important event for the Church, and especially for a Parish which celebrates and is honored by the saint to whom the sacred church was dedicated when consecrated, and it is an occasion of joy and socializing among its members. As is known, the day of the feast of a saint is chosen by the Church based on the day of their departure from this vain world, because it is a day in which they are "born" in eternal divine life, which they also experience in this life. This shows that the saints, like all people, continue to live after the departure of their soul from their body and this is evidenced by their incorrupt relics, which give off a fragrance and work miracles. Throughout their earthly life, they struggled to acquire existential communion with the Holy Triune God, and this is why they defeated the devil and dispelled his "machinations" with the power of the Grace of God that dwells within them. In some iconography Saint Marina is depicted holding the devil by the horns, mocking him and shaming him. This shows that the devil is powerless, since with the power of Christ he can be defeated and people who seem weak can humiliate him, even small children.

Saint Marina was born in Antioch of Pisidia during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (270 A.D.). Her mother died a few days after her birth, and her father, who was a pagan priest, instructed that she be raised by a wonderful woman without, of course, realizing that she was a Christian. In this way Saint Marina was taught the truth of the Gospel from a young age, and at the age of fifteen she revealed to her father that she was a Christian. At first he was surprised, and then he was angry and resentful, ceasing from that time forward to regard her as his child. It did not take long for the governor Olymbrius to be informed of this, so he ordered her arrest. But when he saw her, he was dazzled by her beauty and asked her to be his wife, as long as she first denied Christ. She strongly refused, and to any attempt to persuade her to renounce her faith and to worship idols, she replied boldly: "I am a Christian." He then ordered that she be tortured hard. They tore at her flesh with sticks, they hung her and imprisoned her, and because she still remained firm in her faith they burned her with lit candles. However, her wounds were healed immediately, with the result that many of those in attendance who saw the miracle came to believe in Christ. Then the governor, blinded by hatred, ordered that she be decapitated, and in this way she was perfected and received the crown of martyrdom.

The life and disposition of Saint Marina gives us the opportunity to highlight the following:

All of God's creations are "very good". The evil that exists in the world is not a creation of God, but the result of sin, the disobedience of humanity to the will of God and their apostasy from eternal divine life.

Demons were angels of light (the angelic order of Lucifer), but they fell from the Grace of God and became darkened because of their pride. They try with various ways and with various tricks to lure people away from God. But they cannot hurt anyone, unless someone delivers themselves to them willfully, for this is how our freedom is tested, faith is strengthened, the will becomes more powerful, and we engage in spiritual battle with greater zeal. But we also learn to pray, because in temptations people are wont to resort to God, the Panagia and the saints and to seek their strength and protection. Thus the devil, unwittingly, becomes a teacher of prayer.

Nowadays, unfortunately, there is the sad phenomenon of the involvement of young people, even children, with the worship of Satan and everything associated with it, with the music that praises the devil or they dress as demons, etc. But even many of the faithful, as well as Clergy, prefer, as evidenced by their written and spoken words, to occupy themselves more with the devil and the antichrist than with Christ, creating confusion among people, but also fear in young children and those with weaker faith.

The preaching of the Church must be positive and Christ-centered, which means that it must show the face of Christ, to emphasize who Christ is and how one can acquire existential communion with Him. In other words, not simply that He is a good man, or a teacher, or a social revolutionary, as some maintain, but that He is the God-man Lord, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Who although perfect God, was incarnated and became perfect man, in order to destroy the works of the devil, and redeem man from the tyranny of his sin, the devil and death. Communion with Christ is achieved in the Church through obedience, the sacramental life and asceticism.

Pride distances man from the Church and the true worship of God and pushes him to worship, consciously or unconsciously, the devil. Rather, humility achieves "victory over the devil" and salvation.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΜΕΓΑΛΟΜΑΡΤΥΣ ΜΑΡΙΝΑ", July 2006. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.