July 10, 2023

Saint Amalia of Maubeuge as a Model for our Lives

St. Amalia (Feast Day - July 10)

 By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

Saint Amalia is of Flemish origin and in the Flemish language is called Amalberga or Amelia. She lived in the 7th century in the then Orthodox Belgium, in the province of Brabant, whose capital today is Brussels, and was born in the Walloon region of the province of Brabant of the then kingdom of the Carolingians, called Neustria. She came from an aristocratic family and was the sister, or according to others the neice of Pippin, Duke of Brabant and Count of Laden. She married Witger, who was Duke of Lorraine and Count of Brabant, and they had five children, whom they raised "in the education and admonition of the Lord."

Saint Amalia and her husband, when their children grew up, decided together to live the rest of their lives as monastics. Amalia joined the order of Benedictine monastics, specifically in the women's Holy Monastery of Maubeuge, in today's Northern France near the border with Belgium, while her husband became a monk in the Holy Monastery of Lobbes.

It is noteworthy that all their children are registered in the Church's list of Saints. In other words, they are the parents of five saints, namely Saint Emebert who was the Bishop of Cambrai, the martyr Reineldis, and Saints Pharaildis, Ermelindis and Gudula.

Saint Amalia's end was peaceful.

Her life and conduct give us the occasion to emphasize the following:

First, marriage in the Church is a "great mystery", but monasticism is also a "charismatic state". From time to time some, unfortunately, despising monasticism overemphasize marriage, as well as others excessively promote monasticism as a way of sanctification and salvation at the expense of the mystery of marriage. The Church faced both of these extreme situations, which are contrary to its teaching, and put the matter in its proper dimension. In other words, she teaches that monasticism is indeed a charismatic state within the Church, but also marriage according to Christ, as mentioned above, is a "great mystery". The Apostle Paul in his 1st Epistle to the Corinthians writes that he would like all the members of the Church to be like himself, i.e. dedicated entirely to God, but he adds that each one has his own gift from God "one after this manner, another after that." And in the Apostolic Reading, which is read in the mystery of marriage, and is taken from the Epistle to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul emphasizes that "this is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." Also, in his Epistle to the Hebrews he writes that "marriage is honorable and the bed is undefiled."

Marriage according to Christ and Orthodox monasticism are two parallel paths, which, however, lead to the same destination, that is, to union and communion with God, which is the purpose of human life. After all, all the saints of God, married and unmarried, are the fruit of marriage according Christ, which Saint Gregory the Theologian calls the "father of saints". He says: "Marriage is the father of saints."

The children who are the fruit of the marriage according to Christ have the possibility, with the Grace of God and the correct education and guidance on the part of their parents and their spiritual fathers and teachers, to enter the perspective of virtue and holiness, when, certainly, this education-guidance is accompanied by prayer and a bright example. In the Synaxaria of the Saints, which, as the Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou emphasizes is the real Church history, we read that there were families where all their members were sanctified. A typical example is the family of Saint Amalia, where almost all of its members are commemorated as saints of the Church. Also, the family of the parents of Basil the Great, as well as the family of the parents of Saint Gregory the Theologian, in which families all their members, both parents and children, are saints of the Church. There are, of course, other blessed and holy families, old and modern. In the Hagiologion of the Church there are also recorded saints who come from families of other religions, impious and atheists, but again behind them are some blessed people, full of the Grace of God, who inspired them to love Christ and the Church.

Second, the Holy Spirit "blows where He wills", that's why holiness knows no borders. Saints from every nation and tribe, and from every corner of the earth, are recorded in the Hagiologion of our Church. As we read in the Acts of the Apostles, the first members of the Church after Pentecost, who were attracted to faith by the preaching of the Apostle Peter, were people from various nations and tribes, such as "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya of Cyrene" and "the wandering Romans, Jews and converts, Cretans and Arabs." After all, Christ's exhortation to His Disciples, after Pentecost, was to go to all Nations to preach the gospel and to baptize those who would believe "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

The Apostle Peter, taking occasion from the miraculous conversion of Cornelius the Centurion, said that God does not discriminate, but in every nation whoever respects God and lives according to His will, God accepts him. As we read in the 10th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostle Peter, after a wonderful vision, was led by God to Cornelius, to teach him the way of the knowledge of God, because this man, despite the fact that he was not a Jew, but a Gentile, yet he was virtuous and merciful and sought the true God. Also, the Jews who accompanied the Apostle Peter, when they saw the Holy Spirit descending on the Gentiles, said that "the gift of the Holy Spirit is also poured out on the Gentiles."

God sees the depth of each person's heart and does not discriminate, but accepts with love all those who sincerely repent and strive to live according to His will.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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