December 19, 2023

Saint Paisios the Athonite on the Spirit of Sacrifice of Saints Boniface and Aglaia

- Elder, you said that man should have humility and a good disposition. Can he have pride and a good disposition?

- When we say humility, we mean at least in this matter of martyrdom to have humility. He may be proud, but then humble himself and say: "God, I am proud; but now give me a little strength to be martyred for Your love and pay for my sins."

So, if you have a humble disposition and go to martyrdom with repentance, then God gives a lot of Grace. In other words, one should not go with a proud disposition, with the thought that they will become a martyr and others will write for them a synaxarion and service, they will make an icon of them with a halo.

Someone said to me: "Pray, Father, that I may reach the fifth heaven."

"Well," I said to him, "the Apostle Paul reached the third heaven,* are you asking to reach the fifth?"

"Why," he tells me, "isn't it written to seek for the 'greater'?"**

What talk! However, if one goes to martyrdom in order to have glory in Heaven, it is better not to think of being martyred. A genuine, a proper Christian, if they knew that even in Paradise where they will go, they will again have suffering, they will have torments, they would still long to go there. We must not think that if we suffer something here on earth, we will be better off there in Heaven. Let's not be like a stingy grocer. We want Christ. Let there be torture, let us be martyred every day, let us be beaten every day, and two and three times a day; we do not care. All we care about is being with Christ.

- Can one, Elder, live in idleness and, when necessary, confess boldly?

- In order to do this, one's heart must have kindness, sacrifice. That is why I said to cultivate nobility, the spirit of sacrifice. For one to sacrifice for the other.

Do you see Saint Boniface and Saint Aglaia? They had that wretched life in Rome, but as soon as they sat down to eat, their minds went to the poor. They ran to give food to the poor first and then they ate. Although they were overcome by passions, they were kind and hurt for the poor. They had sacrifice, so God helped them.

And Aglaia, although she lived a sinful life, loved the holy Martyrs and was interested in the holy Relics. She told Boniface to go with her other servants to Asia Minor, to pay for and collect the holy Relics of the Martyrs and bring them to Rome. And he said to her with a smile: "If they also bring you my relic, will you accept it?"

"Don't joke about those things," she said to him.

Finally, when he arrived at Tarsus and went to the amphitheater to buy the holy Relics, he watched the martyrdom of the Christians and was immediately moved by their zeal. He ran, kissed their bonds and wounds, and asked them to pray that Christ might strengthen him to confess publicly that he was a Christian. So he too was martyred in the amphitheater and his companions bought his Relic and took it to Rome, where the Angel of the Lord had informed Aglaia about the event. Thus came to pass what Boniface had prophesied jokingly, before he left Rome. Then she, after dividing her property, lived in asceticism and poverty for another fifteen years and was sanctified. You see, they had not been helped, so were drawn towards evil and had gone astray. But they had a spirit of sacrifice and God did not leave them.


* 2 Cor. 12:12
** 1 Cor. 12:31
*** Commemorated in the Orthodox Church on December 19th.

Source: From the book Αγίου Παϊσίου του Αγιορείτου, «Πνευματική αφύπνιση», Λόγοι Β‘. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

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