June 16, 2015

Saint Tychon of Amathus as a Model for our Lives

St. Tychon, Bishop of Amathus (Feast Day - June 16)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Tychon came from the ancient city of Amathus in Cyprus and lived in the fourth century. His parents were pious and raised him "in the education and admonition of the Lord." From childhood he was a philanthropist and merciful. Since he was little he helped his father in the bakery he owned, and would give bread to the poor without receiving payment. One time his father observed this, because he "overdid it" during a crisis, and he took him to the warehouse to show him that the wheat was continually lessening. However, he was surprised to find that when they arrived the warehouse was full of wheat, and from that time on he allowed Tychon to generously give as much as he wanted to the poor. To young Tychon all this seemed very natural, because he full heartedly believed what he had heard, namely that whoever has mercy on the poor lends to God, and it will be reciprocated back many times over. And now he found these words were absolutely true.

Saint Tychon initially became a Reader and then Deacon and Presbyter. Finally, he was made worthy to become a shepherd of the Diocese of Amathus. Through his fiery sermons and the Mystery of Baptism, he included within the Church many pagans, leading them from the darkness of sensuality and impassioned living to the light of the life according to Christ. In his days his baptismal font became a womb that bore many children. This enraged the fanatical idolaters, the priests of the idols, and some who were affected in their economic interests, and they fought with ferocity. However, God did not allow him to be martyred, but he was "perfected in peace."

Of the countless miracles of the Saint, one can be distinguished as unusual. "While the Saint was alive he planted a dry vine and fervently prayed that it would sprout and bear fruit. Since then every year the miracle is repeated. On the day of his commemoration, the vine presents grapes that are ripe and sweet, which are offered as a blessing to the faithful."

Because Saint Tychon was full of the Holy Spirit, he knew very well what true freedom and spiritual slavery meant, and to what tragic situation those who are enslaved to the idols, or demons, are led. Because the worship of idols implies the worship of the devil, since "the idols of the nations are demons," this is why he struggled against idolatry, out of his love for people, to help them have a taste of peace, joy, love and all the other virtues, which in their original form are not just emotions, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit. The creation of idols and ascribing to them worship constitutes spiritual immaturity, the existence of internal emptiness and the lack of fullness in life. The determination of an idol worshiped by a pagan, depended on the passion they were enslaved to. Some were related to sensuality, others to avarice, another to vanity, etc., and all together they were related to pride, which leads a person even to the idolization and worship of themselves, just like Nebuchadnezzar. As Saint Paul writes: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones" (Rom. 1:21-26).

The gods of the idols are non-existent. In actuality they represent the deification of human passions. Pagans insist on worshiping false gods, and in creating new idols, because they want to act on their passions without being rebuked by the law of God, or their conscience, both of which they try to silence.

In our days we are witnessing a revival of idolatry, and these new idolaters often bring up a false dilemma, like "Orthodoxy or Hellenism". But as Protopresbyter Fr. George Metallinos aptly says: "Every dilemma of this type is not only false, but a form of ethnocide. Because it implies a return to our own imperfection, to our ancient agonizing search. While for Hellenism, which preserves its self-awareness, that which was sought for has been found. It is Orthodoxy. "We have seen the true light...we have found the true faith!" Any disassociation between Hellenism and Orthodoxy is not only a tragic dismemberment of our existence, but pure absurdity, since any return to authentic Hellenism will certainly result in that genuine search which led to its association with Orthodoxy. Outside of this search remained paganism and the sensuality of the Dionysian Greeklings. Therefore, when Orthodoxy is lost, Hellenism is lost."

The worship of the true God helps a person become free from enslavement to the created things of "this present age of deception," in order to experience spiritual pleasure, which is free from bitterness and sorrow.

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Ἅγιος Τύχων Ἐπίσκοπος Ἀμαθοῦντος τῆς Κύπρου", June 2004. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.