March 19, 2020

Saints Claudius, Hilaria, Jason and Maurus as Models for our Lives

Sts. Claudius, Hilaria, Jason and Maurus (Feast Day - March 19)

By Protopresbyter George Papavarnavas

Saint Claudius lived in the third century, during the reign of Emperor Numerian, and he was a Tribune, namely a Commander of the Roman army. He and his soldiers were the ones who gave over the Holy Martyrs Chrysanthos and Daria to be tortured. At the time he was an idolater, but a benevolent and good man, which is why when he witnessed the Holy Martyrs being subjected to horrible torture yet remaining without wounds and more importantly without fear, but instead remained calm and serene, as if others were being tortured, he believed in Christ and confessed Him as the true God. He was baptized with his wife Hilaria and his two children Maurus and Jason. The soldiers of his guard did the same thing, and afterwards gave their testimony for Christ and sealed it with the blood of their martyrdom.

They cast Claudius into the sea, having previously hanged him with a stone tied around his neck. His sons and his soldiers were beheaded. Hilaria took their bodies and buried them, after which she was arrested. When she was brought to the place of her martyrdom, she asked the soldiers to release her for a bit. She then lifted her hands to the heavens, and as she prayed, she delivered her holy soul peacefully into the hands of her Creator. Her servants took her body and buried it next to the bodies of her children.

Their lives and conduct give us the opportunity to highlight the following:

First, in the calendar of the Church we encounter saints of every age and profession, married, unmarried, monastics. This shows us that the gospel is for everyone, whether one lives in asceticism in a cenobitic monastery, or dwells in the wilderness, or works in society, nothing prevents us from living in accordance with the will of God and personally attaining sanctification. Therefore, no one can argue that the place where they live or their occupation prevents them from doing the will of God in their life.

In order to succeed, however, in one's own personal sanctification they must be obedient to the Church. This is necessary, because without obedience no one can progress in any area of their life. For example, in order to gain human knowledge we must obey our teachers, to be healed of an illness we must obey our doctors, and when we drive our car to arrive at our destination safely and without harm we must keep the laws of the road by obeying traffic lights and complying with road signs. Even at work, if we don't obey the orders of our bosses then we cannot escape facing negative consequences.

Therefore, in order for us to succeed in our spiritual rebirth and personal sanctification, which is the purpose of our life, we must become "children of obedience", and at the same time we must be watchful, have hope in God, and struggle to be victorious over our passions. The phrase "children of obedience" belongs to the Apostle Peter, who in his First Catholic Epistle writes: "Therefore prepare your minds for action. Be sober-minded. Set your hope fully on the grace to be given you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As children of obedience, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, as it is written: 'Be holy, for I am holy.'"

Conflicts and quarrels between people, within the family, within society, even in the space of the church, take place because there is no obedience and everyone does as they want, without respecting the freedom of others, and even worse without respect for the canons of the Church and the laws of the State. In the Church there is a hierarchy of offices and ordinances, as in all unified societies, and no one is above the sacred canons and laws. At the same time, the following strange and absurd thing takes place. That is, people who refuse to obey their institutions and their superiors want to be obeyed by their subordinates.

The greatness of the Church manifests itself in the fact that it teaches the people obedience. And whoever learns to be obedient to the Church, namely well-intentioned obedience, they will be obedient in all facets of their life. This, among other things, protects them from being irritated, from conflicts and in general from unpleasant situations, and most importantly it helps them to maintain their peace of mind.

Second, an example is more convincing than a word, which is why parents, as well as teachers, must be very careful in the way they conduct their life and in their behavior towards their children and students, respectively. What children usually remember from their parents as they grow up is the love they surrounded them with, and this love will be the reason for them showing love in turn, and not so much their words or counsels. On the contrary, their lack of love will affect them negatively throughout their lives. And from their teachers, children, when they grow up, remember not so much the knowledge that was imparted to them, as their way of life and how they behaved towards their pupils, whether positively or negatively by their example.

A friend of mine once told me, that when he was around eighteen he encountered his First Grade teacher from elementary school. He spoke to her with courtesy and respect, and at the end of their heartfelt conversation, she told him: "I'm happy that you remember and honor your teachers." He then replied to her: "I don't forget them, Miss, but more so I remember those who showed me love."

From our love for God, which is expressed through obedience to his will, there gushes forth a selfless love for all people, which teaches, inspires, benefits and vanishes from every soul "every disturbance and cowardice" that derives from the devil, and brings spiritual peace and courage to mankind.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.