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Homily for 7/8/12 - P5 - Family and Faithfulness, Sts Peter and Fevroinia of Murom

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  • Fr David Moser
    Today we celebrate the lives of Sts Peter and Fevronia of Murom. These saints are an example of what a Christian marriage should be and in recognition of that
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 8, 2012
      Today we celebrate the lives of Sts Peter and Fevronia of Murom. These
      saints are an example of what a Christian marriage should be and in
      recognition of that their feast is marked in Russia today as the Day of
      Family, Love and Faithfulness. This new holiday, celebrating family
      values such as love and faithfulness, is important not only for Russia,
      but for all people no matter what our origins and culture. These values
      and institutions – Christian marriage, the family, sacrificial love and
      faithfulness – are at the very foundation of Christian society, and not
      only a Christian society, but any society. It is true, that in the US we
      have “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day” where we remember our own parents
      and all who in one way or another become Mother and Father to us, and
      these celebrations are important for the core of any family is the
      mother and father, and we have many “family holidays” that focus on
      being together with our loved ones and family members, however, it is
      the recognition of the family itself and the self sacrificing love that
      is necessary for a family to survive that is the focus of this holiday
      and that is evident in the lives of Sts Peter and Fevronia.
      Both Peter and Fevroina were good and God-loving people. Peter was a
      prince, the brother of the ruler of the city of Murom and Fevronia was a
      peasant. The ruler of Murom, Peter’s brother, the prince Paul, was
      married to a woman who had been deceived by a demon and was held under
      its power. It was through the prayers and actions of Peter that she was
      delivered. This demon appeared in the form of a serpent and like St
      George of old who slew a demon appearing as a dragon, so also Peter slew
      the serpent demon that had enthralled his sister-in-law, freeing her. In
      the course of this battle Peter was injured and searching for healing he
      found the maiden Fevronia. Fevronia was also a pious and God loving
      woman who, because of her prayers and humility had been given by God the
      gifts of wisdom and healing. Through her intercessions the prince Peter
      was healed of his injuries and seeing her piety and love of God he also
      married her even though she was a peasant. This unequal marriage
      demonstrates for us the necessary element of humility in marriage for
      Peter, as a prince and nobleman was entitled to marry a princess and not
      a peasant of no means – and yet he set aside his rights and his pride
      and took as a wife instead Fevronia who was impoverished in worldly
      terms but rich in the grace of God.
      Sometime after their marriage, Peter’s brother, the ruler of the city,
      died and Peter became the ruler of Murom in his place. The aristocrats
      of Murom were willing to accept Peter as their ruler but grumbled at his
      wife for they saw her as a poor and impoverished peasant, not
      recognizing her spiritual stature. They plotted against her and brought
      Prince Peter to the place finally where he had to choose to remain in
      Murom as ruler without his wife Fevronia – or to go with his wife into
      exile and give up his rightful place as prince of the city. Remembering
      that in the word of God it was written that “whosoever shall put away
      his wife, saving for the cause of unchastity, makes her an adultress” he
      chose to remain faithful to his wife and marriage and surrendered the
      rule of his city and to go into exile with her. As they were journeying
      together away from the city of Murom, Peter was filled with doubt
      whether he had done the right thing, for he did not take his
      responsibility to the people of the city lightly and to lay down his
      authority was a grievous thing for him. His wife, Fevronia, encouraged
      him saying, “Do not grieve, my Prince, for the merciful God, our
      Creator, who directs our life, will never forsake us to misfortune.” The
      very next morning as they were preparing to continue their journey,
      representatives of the people of Murom came to Peter asking him to
      return and again be their ruler saying that in his absence, the ones who
      had plotted against him had fallen into conflict as each strove to seize
      power and had been killed. Those who remained desired that Peter and
      Fevronia should return and take up again the rule of the city. Hearing
      this they returned to the city and ruled it according to the
      commandments of God.
      Pause for a moment and look at the importance of the value of marriage
      and the self-sacrifice and faithfulness that is required by those in the
      marriage to preserve it. Too often we forget that marriage is not the
      instrument of the fulfillment of our own passions and desires, but
      rather it is an instrument of self-sacrifice wherein the husband and
      wife sacrifice themselves and their own self-will, desires and passions
      for one another. Peter humbled himself and gave up his pride when he
      took Fevronia as his wife. When there was turmoil in the city over her
      presence, Fevronia agreed to go into exile sacrificing herself for her
      husband. He also sacrificed his place and privilege and surrendered even
      the rule of his city in order to preserve his marriage. If for nothing
      else this should speak to us of the kind of self-sacrificial love that
      is at the root and core of a marriage and of a family. Also it is
      important to note that when the city of Murom rejected the Christian
      marriage of their ruler and exiled the Prince and Princess, the society
      fell apart. When the marriage returned to the city order was restored.
      This shows us the importance of marriage for the stability of society.
      Having returned to the city of Murom, Peter and Fevronia proved to be
      loving rulers helping their people at every opportunity through prayers
      and alms and treating the people of the city as their own children.
      Although they had worldly riches and power, this meant nothing to the
      Prince and Princess, but instead the strove to use those worldly things
      in order to lay up treasures in heaven. The list of their deeds of
      charity, kindness, hospitality and love are beyond counting or enumerating.
      When they came finally to the end of their lives, Peter and Fevronia
      came together to dedicate themselves to the One Whom they loved above
      all and with mutual consent took monastic tonsure becoming David and
      Euphronsinia respectively. By God’s grace they were granted by God to
      depart this world at the same moment. Although initially they were
      prepared to be buried separately, by the miraculous help of God, their
      bodies appeared together in a dual casket – joined in the Kingdom of God
      as they had been joined in life, inseparably in the bonds of marriage.
      We can see from their lives how Sts Peter and Fevronia exemplified the
      value of marriage and family in their lives and the value of
      self-sacrificing love and faithfulness. Their example reminds us that we
      should also strive to express these things in our own lives. Marriage is
      not, as we said, simply the means for the fulfillment of desire, nor is
      it (as the world says) simply a promise and contract by two people to
      join their worldly possessions in joint venture for as long as that
      venture remains profitable and desirable. Marriage is much more than
      this – marriage is the sacramental joining of husband and wife into one
      entity; an icon as it were of the unity of the persons of the Trinity
      and the family that results of this joining becomes an image of the
      Church, all of us joined together by the bonds of love for one another
      and ruled over by Christ. In order for a family to survive and to
      thrive, it is necessary for every member to sacrifice himself for all
      the others. We have seen an example of self-sacrificing love in the
      marriage of Peter and Fevronia. In bringing children into the world the
      parents sacrifice the life they have up to this point and give all that
      they have for the upbringing and welfare of their children. And children
      must also sacrifice their own self will, voluntarily and joyfully
      submitting themselves to the authority and guidance of their parents.
      Without this self-sacrificial love the family becomes a chaotic mob,
      each member scrabbling to grab for himself as much as he can. Children
      become demanding tyrants without discipline or limits; parents neglect
      their children and each other trying to live their own lives; husbands
      and wives seek the fulfillment of their own desires at the expense of
      the other. When even one member of a family is without this self
      sacrificial love, disruption is brought into the family and its
      integrity is threatened.
      Within the family it is necessary first for the husband and wife to
      sacrifice themselves for each other and to give themselves unselfishly
      to one another. When children enter into this self-sacrificing love, it
      is the duty of the parents to begin to teach the children to set aside
      their own will and to live in peace and harmony with one another in
      submission to the loving discipline of the parents. If parents do not do
      this firmly from the beginning then with each passing day and year it
      becomes more and more difficult to teach children to cut off their own
      will and to submit themselves to their parents and to one another. This
      learning is vital for it is in the school of the family that we learn
      how to deny our own will and submit ourselves to the will of God. If we
      as children do not learn this from our parents, then the lessons as
      adults become hard and sometimes tragic.
      On this day let us recall the example of Sts Peter and Fevronia and
      strive to emulate their love of God above all, their self-sacrificial
      love for one another and the care and love for our children which they
      exhibited in their care and love for the people of the city of Murom.
      These values of marriage, family, sacrificial love, and faithfulness
      that we see in their lives are anchors that hold not only our personal
      lives but the whole of society steady. In our lives, as in theirs, the
      unity of the Trinity and of the Church are made manifest and heaven is
      revealed. Holy Sts Peter and Fevronia pray to God for us.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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