As you know I have only recently been ordained into the Holy Priesthood. As the son, nephew and cousin of priests, I can attest to the truth of this article. I know and respect George Stavros who is the Clinical Associate Professor of Pastoral Psychology and serves as the Executive Director of the Danielsen Institute at Boston University. He is a a world authority and expert in this field. He is also a devoted family man and pious Orthodox Christian. As you interact with your parish priest please be aware of the demands on his time and the effect on his family. God Bless…..fr g
Eastern Orthodox Clergy: An At-Risk Population
St Sophia, Pistis, Elpis and Agape
A MOTHER’S LOVE
Today our Holy Church commemorates St. Sophia (Σοφία) and her three daughters. The young girls, Faith, Hope and Love [or Charity] (in Greek: Πίστις, Ἐλπὶς καὶ Αγάπη and In Russian: Vera, Nada and Lyubov) were, as tradition tells us, only 12, 10 and 9. This story is well worth recalling and warrants our reflection. Each May, we in America and other countries in the world celebrate mothers, and yet on September 17 we Orthodox also look to a Christian mother for inspiration. St. Sophia and her daughters lived early in the second century after Christ during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. They were of the patrician class. St. Sophia was widow, raising three girls on her own. She was a devout woman of faith when being a Christian was dangerous. Nonetheless, she raised her daughters to love Christ and to put their trust Him.
We all know that the love of a mother transcends our understanding. St Sophia’s love for her young girls was strengthened by her love for Our Lord. Hadrian called for St. Sophia and her daughters to renounce their faith in Christ. To accomplish his aims he cruelly subjected each of St .Sophia’s innocent young girls to gruesome tortures trying to influence Sophia to renounce her faith. This loving mother had bolstered her daughters faith by assuring them of Christ’s love and of the glories of His heavenly kingdom. They faced their trials confidently and totally committed to Christ. No amount of torture inflicted on them could weaken their faith. From the oldest to the youngest, they accepted their trials only looking to Christ and their ultimate reward. They endured ever more pain and suffering. No amount of cruelty could weaken their commitment to Christ. Each of these innocent young girls earned the crown of martyrdom fortified by their mother’s faith and prayers. St. Sophia received the earthly remains of her beautiful daughters and gave them a Christian burial. Overcome by her grief, St Sophia died at her daughter’s graveside joining her daughters in God’s kingdom.
This story with all its poignant details gives us the understanding that no earthly evil can separate us from the love of Christ. Each of us lives our life with Christ’s protection. Each of us must confess our faith, even under the most difficult circumstances. Each of us, as parents, have a calling to mold the faith of our children and to teach them to love Christ above all else. Faith, Hope and Agape are examples that teach us it is not the years we are given, but how we use those years in His service. St Sophia, the loving mother, teaches us that Christ should always be the strength and foundation of our life and the protector of our family. Holy saints of God, Sophia, Pistis, Elpis, and Agape never cease interceding for us. God bless….dn. george
The Great Hierarch
Many of you know in my work I support peoples of differing abilities. I believe that Our Lord and our Church not only understand, but welcome neurodiversity. This is a link to a beautiful commentary from an Orthodox Christian living with autism and living a full life within our Holy Church. https://themighty.com/2018/02/autistic-and-eastern-orthodox/
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. God Bless…..dn g