September 13, 2021

Saint Ketevan as a Model for our Lives

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Ketevan came from Georgia and lived in the 17th century. Her parents were pious and raised her with the admonitions of the Gospel. In fact, they had given her the Bible for reading. Purity, modesty, prudence and almsgiving adorned her youthful life. When she reached the age of marriage, she married the king of Kakheti, whose name was David. From her marriage she acquired a son, Teimuraz. Her husband David left this vain world early, and his reign was short-lived, having reigned only six months.

As queen Ketevan brought peace among the rulers and restored order between the Church and State, which had been turbulent. She built Holy Temples, Hospitals and took care with much love the widows and the orphans, and in general the poor and the weak. When her son grew up, she handed him the throne and she herself retired to the quiet, which she loved from her youth, and lived in asceticism and prayer. For the salvation of her nation she was driven out of the borders of her country, together with her relatives, and for her faith she endured horrible torments. She was taken to prison where she remained for ten years. She was martyred together with her spiritual father, the priest George, from whom she often received the Holy Mysteries, as did her followers. Her relics became a source of many miracles.

Her life and conduct give us the opportunity to highlight the following:

First, Orthodoxy is not limited to States and Nations. It is not the same as some nations or a nation, but it is universal. Faithful people, who are members of the Orthodox Church, exist in all the lengths and breadths of the earth, and there are also Missionaries, who, like the soft rain, work silently and God knows what they are doing. Many of them are known to many, but they are known to God, who knows His own people, loves them, protects them and blesses them and their works, but they also knows Him, because He is their shepherd and they are the rational sheep of His flock. Christ Himself, the God-man Lord, said: "I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my own and my own know me."

Georgia, from which she originates and in which Queen Ketevan lived, grew up and was martyred, encountered the Orthodox Christian faith in the 4th century from the missionary Saint Nina, the cousin of Saint George the Great Martyr and Trophy-Bearer. And to this day in this country, which belongs to Eastern Europe, 80% of its population are Orthodox Christians.

Therefore, Orthodoxy is universal and is not limited to States and Nations, since it is above racism and racial discrimination. The placement of a Nation above the Church is called "ethnophyletism", which means "adherence to national ideals in the context of racial discrimination", and is considered by the Church as heresy. The Church includes in its bosom "all nations", without distinction, in which the gospel is preached according to the exhortation of Christ Himself to the Apostles: "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." "Ethnophyletism", from time to time, caused many afflictions in the blessed Body of Christ, namely the Church, such as turmoil, schisms and disintegration of the unity of the members of the Church.

The Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic, and it is universal. Its saints, in whatever State they are born in and whatever their nationality, belong first and foremost to the Church, are its true members, and are universal.

Secondly, familiarity with the Bible and more generally with ecclesiastical texts from childhood is always beneficial, because children learn virtue, acquire proper patterns in their lives and discover the purpose of life and its true meaning. Also, they learn about what their duties are in this life, as Basil the Great characteristically emphasizes. He says: "The greatest path to the discovery of duty is the study of the inspired Scriptures." Today, people are persistently seeking their rights and forgetting their duties, which is why there are constant conflicts between people, in families, in societies, in states, in nations. Even young children, who have not had time to understand what life is, claim their rights and you hear them ask stubbornly: "It is not my right, I have the right to not do this?" etc. The Church through the divine Scriptures and the God-bearing Fathers teaches us to ask not for our rights, but for the statutes of God, and to ask God to teach us them, by saying to Him: "Blessed are Your O Lord, teach us Your statutes." And the statutes of God are nothing more than love. Whoever loves God and strives to keep His commandments, he is united with God, who is love, and learns to love, to forgive, to follow. If our rights are related to egoism, pride, self-love, from which all passions are born, such as avarice, lust, vainglory, hatred, resentment, aggression, jealousy, greed, they will cause a lot of problems for people and disrupt their relationships.

The children who know Christ, and literally their hearts are flooded with and pour forth His love, these children growing up will offer their fellow human beings this love. On the contrary, children who did not experience love in its authentic form will be aggressive, cruel and full of hatred for people and society.

The study of the inspired Scriptures, as well as the lives and words of the Saints, offers children inner fulfillment and meaning of life. It helps them to learn the statutes of God, that is, true love, but also how they will eliminate self-love, the mother of all the passions, and thus from self-lovers and misanthropes they will become lovers of God and philanthropists.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.