September 12, 2022

Saints Demetrios, Evanthia and Demetrian as Models for our Lives

Sts Demetrios, Evanthia and Demetrian (Feast Day - September 11)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saints Demetrios and Evanthia were husband and wife and Demetrian was their son. Their life is recorded in a concise way in the Synaxarion of Saint Cornelius the Centurion, because it is connected with two miracles that were performed in this family through Saint Cornelius. The first miracle is the resurrection of Evanthia and Demetrian, and the second and greatest miracle is the complete change of Demetrios.

Demetrios was a philosopher and ruler in the city of Skipsi in Asia Minor, but also a fanatical idolater, who furiously persecuted all those who believed in Christ. His wife and son became Christians without him knowing it.

During an earthquake, Evanthia and Demetrian were buried under the ruins of a church in which they were praying together with the Centurion Cornelius. For a moment they were heard shouting the name of Saint Cornelius, but then there was silence. Demetrios, as soon as he was informed, rushed to the church, met Cornelius, and begged him fervently to help his wife and child. He also promised him that, if he could pull them out alive from the ruins, he would believe in Christ. Saint Cornelius prayed fervently and miraculously brought them back safe and sound. Demetrios, flooded with joy, glorified the true God and not only believed, but also became a preacher and confessor of the true faith.

Their lives and their conduct give us the occasion to emphasize the following.

God created man out of nothing out of love, with special care, and made him the "king of creation". When he "fell", He restored him to his "originally created beauty", with His Incarnation, His Passion, His Cross and His Resurrection, and He constantly "works" for the advancement of man and his salvation. Therefore, everything that happens in creation and in the life of each person is not "accidental", but is the work of God's Providence. According to the teaching of the Orthodox Church, there is the will of God according to His good pleasure and the will of God according to concession. That is, God wants some events to happen and others happen because He tolerates or allows them. As His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou writes, analyzing the teaching of the Orthodox Church as expressed by the Holy Fathers, in creation there are no physical laws, but uncreated spiritual logoi, that is, the Providence of God which constantly acts the same way. For example, what we call the rising and setting of the sun, which determines the day and the night, takes place continuously in the same way because God wants it so. And when God wills it, this order can be overturned, as happened in the Old Testament with Joshua the son of Nun, where "the sun stood still" and the day was prolonged until he defeated his enemies. And as it happened during the Crucifixion of Christ, when it was noon and "the sun was darkened" and "darkness fell on the whole earth".

The phenomenon of earthquakes is also related to the morphology of the earth, as scientists analyze it, and, of course, this is not disputed. However, nothing happens without God willing or allowing it. And God allows earthquakes out of love, for the repentance, correction and salvation of man. The late scholar monk Father Theokletos Dionysiatis, in his book titled "Love Shakes the Earth", referring to earthquakes - on the occasion of the great earthquakes of Thessaloniki at the end of the seventh decade of the last century - writes that earthquakes "are wake-up calls where God knocks" and "with all their sad consequences, it is nothing but love in a sad pedagogical form, which helps us to wake up from the lethargy of sin and to repent." And daily experience testifies that there are not a few cases where people came to their senses, repented and were led to salvation after a strong earthquake, geological or spiritual. Because there is also the spiritual earthquake, which many times creates such a shaking, which is much stronger than the shaking of the earth. And this spiritual earthquake is caused to man, when he is faced with various calamities that completely overturn his way of life, such as diseases and death, the loss of his material possessions, and especially the loss of close people.

Of course, this does not mean that God is the cause of evil. God is love and the evil that happens in the world, as Basil the Great says, is not God's creation, but the result of sin. The cause of the calamities and disasters that happen to cities and people is sin, which, as he emphasizes, is the real evil. All those things that cause pain to the soul and the body, such as diseases and injuries of the body, poverty, humiliation, financial losses, the death of relatives, are therapeutic drugs for the treatment and salvation of man, but also for the salvation of the other members of society, when the disease from sin has now become incurable, in order not to transmit the alienation of the suffering member to the other members.

Therefore, according to Basil the Great, "the annihilation of cities, earthquakes and floods, the destruction of armies, shipwrecks, and all calamities involving many people, acting from land, sea, air, fire, or from any cause, they are done for the correction of the survivors, by God, Who with extensive plagues stops universal sinfulness." And he concludes by saying that God acts like a physician, who removes the member of the human body suffering from gangrene, so that the disease does not spread to the whole body and cause death. And he does it not to punish man, but to heal him and lead him to eternal divine life.

Well-intentioned people after a strong "shaking" come to their senses and change their way of life. In fact, some of them are "transformed" into preachers and confessors of the Orthodox faith.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.