January 20, 2016

A Saint Worthy of Emulation: Saint Euthymios the Great

By Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

Blessed are those who have abandoned the world and the things of the world for the love of the Savior Christ. Blessed are those who struggle to gain communion with God by means of pure prayer. Blessed are those who struggle in this life to acquire the virtues. Blessed are those who repent and abhor the works of sin. Blessed are those who "die in the Lord" because their wage will be much in heaven.

Today our Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of our Venerable Father Euthymios the Great. Saint Euthymios was born in 377 in the Armenian city of Melitene near the Euphrates River during the reign of Roman Emperor Gratian. His parents, Paul and Dionysia, were noble and virtuous, but they did not have children. They begged God daily to give them a child and cease their pain.

One day while praying in the Church of Saint Polyeuktos they saw a vision in which was revealed that their prayers were heard by the Lord, and that they would have a child that would bring gladness and joy to all. So when their child was born they named him Euthymios. At the age of three the father of the Saint reposed and his mother took him to her brother, Eudoxios, who was a delegate of the Metropolitan Eutroios of Melitene, and dedicated him to the Lord, just as Saint Hannah did with Samuel. When Eutroios saw Euthymios he prophesied saying: "In this child will rest the Spirit of the Lord."

Having learned sacred letters and as a philosopher kept within him the words of Divine Scripture and holy men, there kindled within his soul divine love. He spent all his time reading Divine Scripture and the stories of the Saints. His teacher and guide was Bishop Akakios who ordained him against his will to be a Presbyter, and assigned to him the responsibility of all the monasteries. The Saint loved quietude and would go to the churches and desert places to pray. He visited the All-Holy Sepulchre and had the opportunity to converse with many holy men. In a cell of the Lavra of Pharan he settled having as handiwork the making of baskets out of palms. Here he lived for five whole years freed from the cares of the world and contemplating only the future goods of God's Kingdom. God gave Saint Euthymios the gift to work miracles and he healed many who were sick.

Many times while praying other monks would see a divine flame descending upon him and surrounding him, and Angels during the Divine Liturgy would co-liturgize with him and minister to him. Saint Euthymios reposed in deep old age after living a holy and venerable life, in prayer and fasting, in asceticism and spiritual struggles, with virtue and love, giving to all an example of monastic life and humility. The Saint had foretold his repose to the Fathers of the Monastery and gave them his final counsels.

Thus, on the 20th of January in the year 473 at the age of 96, Saint Euthymios delivered his holy soul to the Lord whom he loved so much.

The life and conduct of Saint Euthymios the Great should be a cause for us to emulate the love, the virtues and the divine longing of this holy man. Worldly noises, daily occupations and the many problems of our lives distract our attention from what is essential and necessary and is our indispensable need to inherit the Kingdom of God.

Our Lord Jesus Christ assured us that is most necessary is our salvation. Everything else is of secondary importance. Besides, what will benefit a man if he gains the whole world and brings a little bit of harm to the soul, or what can he offer in return for this? Therefore, my beloved, let us strive to dispel the desires of this vain world and imitate Saint Euthymios whom we celebrate today. Let us glorify our Lord Jesus Christ with our Christian life and conduct, living as He has appointed for us.

Source: From the book Η πράξη του Ευαγγελίου: Ορθόδοξες ομιλίες (The Practice of the Gospel: Orthodox Homilies). Translated by John Sanidopoulos.