Homily on St. Paraskevi by Metropolitan
Avgoustinos Kantiotes (+2010)
"A Bedrock of Virtue"
St. Paraskevi was not an ordinary
woman. She was a spiritual meteor, a bedrock of virtue, unshakable
amid the ocean of the corrupt community.
She implemented that which Christ said,
that: “He who hears my words and keeps them resembles a house built
upon the rock, and though the rains came and the winds and the rivers
fell upon it, the house was not shaken.” (Matthew 7:24-25) And St.
Paraskevi was a bedrock of virtue. Foamy waves fell upon her, the
greatest waves of life.
First, the wave of corruption fell upon
her. She was not born in a small village. She was born in the most
corrupted city, which in the Holy Scriptures is called the Babylon of
the world due to its corruption (Revelation 17:5). She was born in
Rome, in a suburb of Rome. But however, she remained uplifted. She
was a lily among the dung of her community.
Let us all hearken to this, for when we
see some woman being led astray, we say: “The community is
responsible.” Yes, the community is responsible, I don't deny this.
But she herself is also responsible. Give me a woman who loves Christ
like St. Paraskevi, and throw her into the most corrupted community,
and no wave and no devil could shake her.
As soon as one wave left, a stronger
wave fell upon her: the wave of orphanhood. This wave is terrible.
St. Paraskevi was orphaned of her father and her mother. Because of
this she is a protector of orphans. She was orphaned at that age when
children could become prey to unscrupulous traffickers who try to
exploit them. But she stood tall even while an orphan. She had within
her a great fervor for holiness, the life of virginity and grandeur.
Woe to the woman who does not have
these great desires. No matter how high she climbs, no matter how
many qualifications she has, she is deplorable. It is better to be an
unlettered villager, which is like a lily, like the flowers that grow
in the crags of the rocks of our homeland.
Therefore, the waves of corruption and
orphanhood fell upon her, but she remained untouched. Because of this
I call her a rock. Furthermore, another rock fell upon her, that of
money, of wealth. After the death of her pious parents, she remained
the sole inheritor of their vast property, which they left to her.
Every other girl would think
differently. One might buy silken clothes, one might go to dances and
gatherings, one might run right and left, would go on trips, would
experience the spirit of the sinful life. St. Paraskevi however did
Money is a great temptation. It is
better to be a blessed poor person. Thrice-blessed are little huts,
more than great homes. Because in huts dwell diamonds, while in the
palaces and the large homes dwell many times prideful souls, who do
not love Christ.
Money fell into the hands of St.
Paraskevi. But she did what St. Anthony did, who had also inherited
vast property. He went into church one day. His ear hearkened to the
Priest who was reading the Gospel: “Sell your goods and give them
to the poor.” (Matthew 19:21) Sell everything and give them to the
poor. Anthony heard this. And he did not say that Christ was saying
this to others. He distributed his property to the poor. As he
hearkened to the words of Christ, so did St. Paraskevi. She kept only
a small amount, and with this she founded a small sisterhood of
orphan women virgins, who were dedicated to preaching, to
enlightenment and to philanthropy.
So many foamy waves fell upon St.
Paraskevi. Finally, the red wave of blood fell upon her! It was a
time when only one would be heard to be a Christian, and one would be
put in prison. They seized her at that hour when she had gathered the
girls together to teach them. They led her before the judge. They
asked her: “Are you a Christian?” She responded: “I boast that
I am a Christian.” “We give you,” they said, “three days time
to deny Christ.” “No,” the Saint responded, “I don't need
time to decide. From this instant I dedicated to sacrifice my life
for Christ. Do whatever you wish.”
And her martyrdom began. They threw her
in a dungeon in the prison. They whipped her with bullwhips. They
threw her to the wild beasts. They threw her into a cauldron with
burning tar and oil. She endured many forms of martyrdom, but all of
these she conquered through the power of Christ.
At the end, her hour came. They took
her to a temple of the idols with statues of the false gods. She
knelt, closed her eyes and made a mystical prayer to God.
Immediately, there was an earthquake. The statues fell to the earth
and became dust.
They couldn't stand it anymore.
Thousands of barbarous hands of the idolaters seized her, took her
outside and to the place of execution. Her face was shining like the
sun. She knelt, prayed and thanked God. Finally, she was beheaded by
a Roman soldier. And while her precious head fell down, and her blood
watered the earth, her soul, white as a dove, flew to the heavens.
Since then, how many years have passed!
But as long as the world will exist, the name of St. Paraskevi will
remain unto eternity. For: “The memory of the righteous is unto
eternity.” (Psalms 111:6)
My brethren, St. Paraskevi is an
example for all of us. But foremost, she is an example of a virtuous
life and faith for women and young people. In this age of great
corruption, she is the example and the mirror for virtue for
We live in a time of Babylon, a time of
the Apocalypse, when the devil is roaring. He tries to strike the
whole world. But most of all, he rabidly fights to strike and to soil
girls and women. He wants not a single girl to remain unsoiled.
He fights we terrible magazines and
newspapers. He soiled our girls with terrible brochures, with movies,
with TV shows, which are schools of crime and dishonor. He soils them
with mixed baths, with terrible photographs, with corrupting dances,
with parties. The day will come when you will not find a pure girl.
What will we do?
To arms, my brethren, to arms! Not to
physical weapons, but to spiritual ones. Fathers, mothers, look
towards the honor of your girls.
I'm finished, but rather, I'm not yet
finished, because I want to be paid. What payment? Money? I am a monk
and I leave that to you. I will not finish my homily unless my soul is
Do you want your homes to be blessed
and your girls to be secure? Today, the feast of St. Paraskevi, I
entreat you all to do three things. First, go straightaway to your
home, and look everywhere to find terrible articles and pictures, and
gather them to light them with a holy fire to burn them all. Second,
I recommend to all of you to go buy the life of St. Paraskevi and an
icon of hers to hang in your home, and speak to your children: “My
daughter, my child, become like St. Paraskevi.” And the third
thing? Having done the first two, light a candle for the wayward
women, those who live in filth and dishonor, and say to St.
Paraskevi: “St. Paraskevi, you who are a lily of heaven, help these
women of Greece, the women of the whole world to return near the
Panagia, near to God, near to Greece, so that we might all have the
protection of the Holy Trinity”, Whose blessings I pray might be
with you all. Amen.
(homily delivered in Chaidari, Athens,
"And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth...And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." John 1: 14, 16-17
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and to the ages of ages! Amen!
"As the Prophets saw, as the Apostles taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers express in dogma, as the inhabited world understands together with them, as grace illumines, as the truth makes clear, as error has been banished, as wisdom makes bold to declare, as Christ has assured, so we think, so we speak, so we preach, honouring Christ our true God, and his Saints, in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in icons, worshipping and revering the One as God and Lord, and honouring them because of their common Lord as those who are close to him and serve him, and making to them relative veneration.
This is the faith of the Apostles; this is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Orthodox; this faith makes fast the inhabited world." Excerpt from the Synodikon of the Sunday of Orthodoxy (http://www.anastasis.org.uk/synodikon.htm)
By the Grace of God, here are presented a few true stories of the Saints, sayings of the Holy Fathers, sacred icons, and many other things so that, maybe in a small way, we may remind ourselves that (though we might not be ready to accept it) Jesus Christ is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE, and that the Holy Orthodox Church is full of Christ's GRACE and TRUTH, and is no less than the Kingdom of God on earth.
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