March 20, 2020

Holy New Martyr Myron of Crete as a Model for our Lives

By Protopresbyter George Papavarnavas

The period of the Turkish occupation gave us many martyrs, who, in contrast to the martyrs of the first centuries of Christianity, were called New Martyrs. One of these New Martyrs was Myron, who was from Crete and was martyred in Crete. Specifically, he was born in Mega Kastro, and was the son of noble and pious parents, who taught him to love Christ and the Church. He loved the quiet life and prayer and lived in virginity and prudence. Having learned the art of sewing he went to work in his work shop while praying and avoiding talking with his Hagarene neighbors, who, because they could not stand his virtuous way of life, they envied him and slandered him saying that he sexually assaulted a young Turk, so they dragged him to court. Myron responded by denying this charge before the judge, but the judge gave him a choice to go free if he changed his faith and became a Muslim or else he would be put to death. Myron boldly confessed his faith, which is why he was condemned to be hanged. When the soldiers led him to the place of his execution, he asked forgiveness from all the Christians he encountered along the way. His father who was following him with tears, having been given permission to approach him, he comforted. Asking for his blessing he told him not to be sad, because the accusations against him were false and that he was dying for his faith. After he was hanged the place was illuminated by a very bright heavenly light and the body of the martyr was luminous and fragrant. Christians took him and buried him with reverence, respect and spiritual joy, glorifying God Who glorifies His saints.

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

First, in the calendar of our Church there aren't only anchorites and hermits, but also saints who lived in society, and most of these were homemakers with many responsibilities for the upbringing of their children. This did not prevent them from loving God and their "neighbor" and attaining their own personal sanctification. In order to gain the necessities of life for themselves and their families they started a certain profession. Some were soldiers like Saint Eustathios, others were cooks like Saint Euphrosynos, others were farmers and stockbreeders like the martyrs Tryphon and Themistokles, while others were sewers like the New Martyrt Myron. This shows that no profession and no social difficulty can prevent someone from making an effort to walk along the path of God's commandments and attain personal sanctification. And it is good for pious Christians who are employed in the same work as a certain saint to especially pray to that saint and have them as their patron and a model for their lives, struggling to imitate them if possible in their way of life and conduct. Then their patron saint will be with them and protect them from all dangers, temptations and difficulties of this present life, and will intercede for their salvation.

Second, in the Synaxarion for March 20th, among other things we read: "The Holy New Martyr Myron the Cretan, who was martyred in Crete in the year 1793, and met his end by hanging." And below that are the verses: "You were seen noetically by your hanging Myron, Athlete Myron the glory and boast of Crete."

The martyrs of the Church are the glory and boast of their earthly homeland. Also, their relics, as precious containers of myrrh, emit a heavenly fragrance. This is because the martyrs, due to their inner purification, became the abode of the Holy Spirit.

God said of those who would purify their hearts of their passions: "I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God and they will be My people." The Grace of the Holy Spirit therefore comes to dwell within purified hearts, within their entire existence, both in their soul and their body. When the soul departs from the body, Grace remains with the body, which is why the relics of saints are fragrant. This fragrance, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, cannot be compared to any other fragrance or perfume of the world. Even the Apostle Paul, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, writes that the saints are the fragrance of Christ: "For we are to God the pleasing fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing." In other words, the saints are a fragrance to people by their words, by their deeds and generally by their entire lives.

After all, everyone offers what is in their heart. When the heart is the abode of the Holy Spirit, then it exudes love, and has "the scent of divine myrrh." However, if it is the abode of demons, then it gives off a wicked demonic smell. In other words, the heart of a man of God is like a bottle full of myrrh or a flower garden, while the unrepentant and impassioned are full of impurities. The first, when they open their mouth they give off a fragrance to the entire world, and the listeners of their words feel calm, peaceful, joyful and sweet consolation. The second however, when they speak you cannot stand it. It is impossible to bear, and the little that takes place around them is disordered, confused, anxious and distressful.

Therefore, as we can understand from above, there are two categories of people in society: those who have the Holy Spirit within them and those who are possessed by a wicked spirit, namely the devil. The first are a true blessing for society, while the second are a social wound.

At the same time, no place and no honorable profession can prevent someone from loving God, and caring for their sanctification and salvation. It is enough to truly want it and to struggle for it.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.