February 13, 2017

Saint Eulogios of Alexandria as a Model for our Lives

St. Eulogios of Alexandria (Feast Day - February 13)

By Archimandrite Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Eulogios, Archbishop of Alexandria, was from Syria and served in Antioch as Presbyter and as Abbot of the Monastery of the Most Holy Theotokos. He lived from the mid-sixth to early seventh century, during the reigns of Emperors Tiberius I the Thracian (578-582), Maurice (582-602) and Phokas (602-610). He came to the throne of the Church of Alexandria in 571, according to others in 579, and served as hierarch until 607. He was the predecessor of Saint John the Merciful. Not only did he perform many miracles after his repose, but also while he lived. When Saint Leo, Pope of Rome, sent his legendary epistle of Orthodoxy to the Fourth Ecumenical Synod, which had gathered in Chalcedon, Saint Eulogios praised it and proclaimed everywhere the content of the epistle. Then an Angel of the Lord appeared to Saint Eulogios in the form of the Archdeacon of Pope Leo, who thanked him for accepting the content of the epistle. The Saint thought he was conversing with the Archdeacon, however, when the Angel disappeared in front of him, then he realized what took place and glorified God. At the moment he thanked and glorified God he delivered to Him his holy soul.

Regarding the written works of Saint Eulogios we are informed by Photios the Great, who refers to the following works of the Saint: 1) "Against the Novatians and On Economy" in five books. The Novatians took their name from their leader Novatian, operated in Alexandria, rejected giving honor to the sacred relics of Martyrs, and Saint Eulogios refuted their heretical positions. 2) A sixth book against the Novatians directed as a refutation of Novatian's "On Spectacles." 3) "Defense of the Tome of Leo." Two books addressed to Bishop Dometianos of Melitene, supporting the epistle of Pope Leo against the attacks of Timothy Aelurus and Severus of Antioch. 4) "On the Doctrine of Piety," which defends the Tome of Leo. 5) "Invective Against Theodosius and the Gaianites." 6) Eleven Discourses. Of all these books, unfortunately none have survived. However, seven chapters from his dogmatic work "On the Two Natures of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ" have survived, as well as an extract from his discourse "On the Trinity and the Divine Economy." A discourse titled "On the Palms and the Foal" also has survived, but it is of doubtful authenticity.

His life and conduct gives us the opportunity to highlight the following:

First, heresies develop primarily where there are no Saints, because the Saints with their teachings and especially by their bright example dissolve the fallacious teachings of heretics, just as smoke is dissolved by a gust of wind, and thus they protect the faithful and lead them without error along the path towards communion with God. The Saints, because they are "full of the Holy Spirit," have the ability to discern between that which is uncreated and that which is created, the divine from the demonic, who through heresies and heretics try to distance people from God and lead them to eternal perdition. This is why it is important for those who desire their salvation to struggle with prayer, asceticism and the sacramental life to know God and unite with Him, to study the Gospels, the lives of the Saints and the writings of the Fathers; also, to be advised by spiritual fathers, who rightly divide the word of truth, and are always Orthodox, otherwise there is a danger of eternal perdition by deviating from the path of truth.

The genuine wealth of a society is not an abundance of material goods, but the existence of Saints, who although poor in material goods, they enrich many, offering internal fulfillment and a meaningful life.

Second, the Saints are recognized by their peers, namely other Saints, who live the same way of life as them. Those who do not move within their same perspective and way of life do not have a similar way of life of the Saints, they do not understand the Saints, they turn against them, they criticize them, they slander them and reject their teachings. There are those however who support that they are Orthodox and living members of the Church, but in reality are mistaken due to their pride and their battles against the Saints and their teachings, without perhaps realizing that they are instruments of the devil and invite scandal. When someone is proud, when they have guidance from someone who is in error, they become opponents of the Saints and the cause of spiritual harm to those who are spiritually ill or weak. This is why they will give an account before God those who cause within the Church, and in society in general, factions, schisms and all kinds of scandals.

Spiritual fathers, and especially Bishops, who make up the "mystery of the sensible presence of Christ on earth," "upholding the word of truth," and lead the people of God on the path of salvation, receive more than anyone else the attacks of the devil and his instruments, namely those who intentionally or unintentionally serve him. This is why the members of the Church must revere the Bishops, as well as Presbyters and Deacons who work in Parishes with the blessing of the Bishop, to assist him in various ways, and support his work, and not turn against him. Even when there is evidence of misconduct against a certain Cleric, we should still not condemn him, but address it to the Church, namely the competent ecclesiastical organization.

When one struggles, is vigilant and protective from spiritual pitfalls - such as the deceits and snares of the devil, which are the heresies and battles against the Saints and of all those in general who try to struggle to attain their own personal sanctification - then the mercy of God will never forsake them, but, according to the words of the sacred Psalmist, He will pursue us "all the days of our lives."

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasis, "Ἅγιος Εὐλόγιος, Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Ἀλεξανδρείας", January 2016. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.