Saint Helen and the Beneficence of Women

Saint Helen and the Beneficence of Women

68 views
0

Protopresbyter Vasileios Kalliakmanis

 

a) Women played a decisive role both in spreading the Christian message of the Resurrection as well as in the practical application of the supreme Gospel commandment of love. From the lambent day of the Resurrection of Christ, when the Myrrh-Bearing Women went to the tomb ‘very early’ and heard from the ‘radiant angel’ that ‘He has risen, He is not here’, until our own day and age, women have adorned the calendar of saints, have nurtured saints, have served in the worship of the Church and have led the way in works of benefaction.

b) The Church honoured women and raised their status morally. From being chattels and possessions men, the Church regarded them as human persons made in the image of God, with their own particular gifts. This truth is of great interest, if we but remember that one of the great sages of antiquity Thales the Milesian, influenced as he was by the general climate of disdain towards women in his time, considered himself lucky with regard to three things: first that he was human rather than a beast; second that he was a man rather than a woman; and third that he was Greek rather than barbarian.

c) Moreover, in the Gospels themselves, we see Christ protecting the adulteress, accepting the repentance of the harlot, speaking of sublime theological matters with the Samaritan woman, and having with Him female disciples who were the first to be entrusted with spreading the joyful tidings of the Resurrection. Thereafter, the Fathers protected women against unfair legislation and appointed them to a variety of assignments.

d) Mention is made, for example of the deaconess, Olympiada, who served in Constantinople, became a close associate of Saint John Chrysostom on social issues and devoted the larger part of her wealth to good works. Imitating and following the women disciples of Christ, who served Him by utilizing their possessions, Olympiada took care of Saint John and those working with him.

e) Saint Helen, the mother of Constantine the Great, whom the Church commemorates on 21 May, was also involved in similar social work. From the testimony preserved by the historian Eusebius, it appears that Saint Helen was particularly magnanimous and generous. To some she gave money, provided others with the clothing they needed, looked after the impoverished, the naked and military veterans. Some she caused to be released from prison or from the wretched conditions in the mines, others she freed from oppression, and others again she recalled from exile.

f) Saint Helen’s contribution to the construction and decoration of Christian churches in Jerusalem and also in Bethlehem was also important. According the calendar of the saints, Saint Helen searched for, and found the Lord’s Cross on dread Golgotha. This was an event which caused great rejoicing. Tradition has it that, when she was sailing back to Constantinople with the larger portion of the Precious Cross, she called in at the island of Cyprus, where she founded the Monastery of Stavrovouni. She left part of the Precious Cross in Jerusalem, brought another to Constantinople, and, according to Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, the rest was divided and sent to other areas of the world.

g) With the help of Constantine the Great, Saint Helen continued the Apostolic tradition of looking after the indigent and those in dire straits well into her old age, bequeathing the custom to her successors. Thus, women in every era have worked together with men towards the practical application of the commandment of love. This is still happening today, with thousands of women engaged in the social mission of the Church. There is a double benefit to this. On the one hand, the weakest members of society are given assistance and, on the other, the women are provided with opportunities to validate their daily lives, to escape from isolation and to grow psychologically and spiritually.

Source: pemptousia.com

 

 

ABOUT THE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN NETWORK 

The Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America originally commissioned by SCOBA to create a national, sustainable, and effective media witness for Orthodox Christianity and seekers around the world through media ministry. CLICK HERE to download our brochure.

This 501(c)3 is recognized as a leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty years. OCN shares the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. We have reached 5.7 Million People in One Week. Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners, readers, and fans. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send your gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website. Your gift will ensure that OCN may continue to offer free, high-quality, Orthodox media.

OCN has partnered with Pemptousia, a Contemporary post-modern man does understand what man is.  Through its presence in the internet world, Pemptousia, with its spirit of respect for beauty that characterizes it, wishes to contribute to the presentation of a better meaning of life for man, to the search for the ontological dimension of man, and to the awareness of the unfathomable mystery of man who is always in Christ in the process of becoming, of man who is in the image of divine beauty. And the beauty of man springs from the beauty of the Triune God. In the end, “beauty will save the world”.

Do you find it hard to keep focused on Christ when you’re on the go? OCN makes it easy! Give today to help you and your Orthodox community stay connected no matter the location.

donate now

ORTHODOX MOBILE APPS ARE HERE!

Click here to download the Spark OCN and Orthodox Prayer Book.

_______________________________________________________________________
Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. OCN is on Social Media! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Instagram

About author
avatar

Pemptousia Partnership

Pemptousia and OCN have entered a strategic partnership to bring Orthodoxy Worldwide. Greek philosophers from Ionia considered held that there were four elements or essences (ousies) in nature: earth, water, fire and air. Aristotle added ether to this foursome, which would make it the fifth (pempto) essence, pemptousia, or quintessence. The incarnation of God the Word found fertile ground in man’s proclivity to beauty, to goodness, to truth and to the eternal. Orthodoxy has not functioned as some religion or sect. It was not the movement of the human spirit towards God but the revelation of the true God, Jesus Christ, to man. A basic precept of Orthodoxy is that of the person ­– the personhood of God and of man. Orthodoxy is not a religious philosophy or way of thinking but revelation and life standing on the foundations of divine experience; it is the transcendence of the created and the intimacy of the Uncreated. Orthodox theology is drawn to genuine beauty; it is the theology of the One “fairer than the sons of men”. So in "Pemptousia", we just want to declare this "fifth essence", the divine beaut in our life. Please note, not all Pemptousia articles have bylines. If the author is known, he or she is listed in the article above.