October 10, 2023

Saints Eulampios and Eulampia as Models for our Lives

Sts. Eulampios and Eulampia (Feast Day - October 10)

 By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Holy Martyrs Eulampios and Eulampia were siblings according to the flesh and came from Nicomedia in Asia Minor. They lived in the 3rd century AD in the years of the Emperor Maximian, who ordered a severe persecution against the Christians, because of which many Christians left Nicomedia and fled to the mountains. Among them was the family of the sibling Martyrs Eulampios and Eulampia. On the mountain they lived in asceticism, prayer and study of the Holy Scriptures.

One day Eulampios was sent by his parents to Nicomedia to buy food. There the idolaters recognized him and handed him over to the ruler, in front of whom he boldly confessed his faith in Christ. After his courageous confession, he was led to a pagan temple and ordered to sacrifice to the idol of the "god" Ares. As was natural, he refused, and in fact, with his prayer he crushed the idol. After this event he was subjected to horrible torture. While they began to flog him, his sister Eulampia rushed and embraced him, at the same time she begged Christ to find her worthy of martyrdom as well. Then they put both of them in a large cauldron of hot water, but instead of burning, they cooled, like the three children of the Old Testament in the burning furnace, because the Son and Word of God descended into the furnace and turned it into dew. Thus, these fellow Martyrs also remained unharmed by the power of Christ, the incarnate Son and Word of God. And because of this miracle, 200 idolaters believed in Christ, who confessed their faith in the true God, and were "came to an end by the sword" and are honored as Martyrs of the Church.

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

The Martyrs of Christ are the greatest "resistance fighters" in history. They resisted powerful tyrants, endured horrible tortures with amazing courage and patience, and crushed idols with the power of Christ. Thus, thousands of people were compelled to believe in the true God.

Idols, however, exist in all ages and in order for one to be able to crush them and be freed from the tyranny of the devil, who acts through idols, one must become a member of the Body of Christ, that is, the Church, through Baptism and Chrismation, and constantly striving to live according to God's will. That is, with obedience to the Church, with asceticism, with a sacramental life, with continuous prayer and study of the Holy Scriptures and the lives of the Saints, but also of the words of the Holy Fathers of the Church, who are the infallible interpreters of the Holy Scriptures.

The apostasy from the living God, which exists even in our time, leads to the creation of idols, that is, to the absolutization and deification of created things, in which man is ultimately enslaved. The various ideologies can become idols, when they are absolutized and sometimes deified, as well as material wealth, when one does not share it with the poor, as well as children, when they are considered by parents as their property and not as a gift from God, and for this, no gratitude, thanksgiving and praise are given to the Gift-giver. However, we ourselves can also become an idol, when we subjugate ourselves to passions, and through passions we become the "possession and stench of the adversary", that is, of the devil, according to Saint Andrew, Bishop of Crete, the author of the "Great Canon", who writes: "I have become my own idol, utterly defiling my soul with the passions, Compassionate one. But accept me in repentance and call me back to knowledge. Let me not become the possession and stench of the adversary, O Savior, and take pity on me."

The cure from self-idolization, as is clearly seen in the above troparion, is done through repentance, through which man is "received by God", "recalled to the knowledge of His will" and freed from the tyranny of the devil. He is led to repentance by the Grace of God, his struggle for the implementation of the divine commandments and the help of "pious thoughts", which, in the Fourth Book of Maccabees of the Old Testament is called the "emperor of the passions", because it helps man to dominate his passions. And these "pious thoughts" are coupled with wisdom, not, however, with the wisdom of this world "which is abolished", but with the wisdom of God, "which comes down from above", which "is knowledge of divine and human things and of their causes", but also "education of the law", through which man "knows divine things modestly and human things beneficially". Admirable and "offshoots" of this divine wisdom are, among other virtues, the virtues of courage and prudence, with the power of which man can overcome his passions.

There are many models of courage and prudence in the Holy Scriptures and Church history, and these are all the Saints. Our Church at the beginning of Holy Week, in order to teach us and encourage us in our fight against the devil, passions and sin, presents us as a model of courage and prudence Joseph, the son of the Patriarch Jacob (Old Testament). This Joseph was envied by his brothers, sold as a slave and led to Egypt, but God honored him and glorified him, because despite the youth of his age, since he was about eighteen years old, he did not give in to the infamous provocation of the wife of Pharaoh's captain of the guard, and with the help of "pious thoughts" he conquered sin. He said: "How can I do this wicked thing and sin against God?" This reasoning shows that Joseph had a sense of God's omnipresence, and thus it was impossible for him to sin before God, that is, to violate His will and lose His Grace. He also knew empirically that nothing is more precious than the Grace of God, which changes the human heart into Paradise, as he also knew that sin led to distance from God, to the loss of His Grace and to slavery to the devil, where is real Hell.

The greatest act of resistance in history is the tearing down of the various idols, which is accomplished with the Grace of God, the help of "pious thoughts", the emperor of the passions, and the power of courage and prudence.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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