Today, we celebrate the feast of St. Thomais of Lesvos. Before we continue with her story, I want to insert a little disclaimer of sorts here. I am in no way condoning domestically abusive relationships. I simply wanted to post this incredible story of patience and long-suffering.
Those of us in today’s society have, well tarnished views on what a true loving relationship should consist of. Movies, advertisements, song lyrics and more are constantly “telling us” how our men are supposed to behave. They must buy us extravagant gifts on birthdays and holidays, constantly remind us of how absolutely wonderful we are, take us on exotic trips “just because”. And perhaps, the most important rule of all, they must always, always give heartfelt apologies with handpicked flowers and/or Godiva chocolate regardless of who is at fault (because we all know it’s usually him). I mean, by husband does
none all of those things, doesn’t yours?
Sure, some of those things are nice gestures, but is that really what love is? Personally, there’s not one thing listed there that means anything to me. If I wanted expensive presents, flowers or chocolates, I could just as easily go get them myself. After three children and over eleven years of marriage, my understanding of “love” has changed drastically. Why is there very little value accredited to the husband who simply respects his wife, loves her unconditionally or allows her to worship freely! Or on the husband who supports his family, makes time for his wife and children, and creates a safe, stable and happy atmosphere in the home? Or the one who tenderly takes care of his wife when she’s sick? I want a person to grow old with, someone who will never betray me or belittle me. Someone who will try his best to support me in my pursuits, even if he really doesn’t understand them. These are the things that matter to me. I don’t care if my husband publicly worships me while completely neglecting me and my family at home. I don’t care if he showers me with gifts other girls would be envious of. It’s simply not the life, let alone the type of husband, we should want.
Granted, my darling hubby can sit in a room full of ninety year old women and nag with the best of them, the feeling comparable to being pecked to death by chickens. And sure, I’ve hit my head on the cupboards he leaves open in the middle of the night that I’ve asked him repeatedly to close, and I’ll admit he drives me crazy when he tells me to get off of my phone or the computer. But regardless of whatever pet peeves I may have with him, he is still such a blessing in my life. Whenever he encourages me to “fight the good fight”, whenever he pushes me to do more spiritually, whenever we stand together in prayer with our family, I breathe a sigh of thanks to God for giving me someone that values the importance of a Christian-upbringing as much as I do. I thank God every day for giving me a man who loves Him more than me. I love my husband to death and wouldn’t change one thing about him. He wouldn’t be him, if I did.
So, as you read the story of St. Thomais, I hope that you’ll gain a greater appreciation for your husband. I hope that you’ll overlook his lack of sensitivity or the clothes on the bathroom floor that are literally a step away from the hamper. Look hard into what really matters. You can even make a list of all the things you love about him. Show him that you’re grateful for him.
In celebration of the feast today, I challenge all of you to go out of your way to do something nice for your husband. I’ll be renting one of the movies he has been wanting to watch and making one of dh’s favorite desserts tonight. After all, he’s sat through (and rather enjoyed if I might add) two and a half seasons of Downton Abbey reruns with me, it’s the least I can do. 🙂 Come back and let me know what you did special!
St. Thomais of Lesvos
Mytilene of Lesvos; 10th Century
Saint Thomais was born in Mytilene to well-to-do parents, named Michael and Kali, who were distinguished for their piety. According to the Greek Synaxarion, her parents were “a golden pair, abundantly happy and blessed.” The Theotokos herself appeared to the childless Kali and told her that she would give birth to Thomais.
At the age of twenty-four, Thomais entered into marriage with Stephen, who proved to be her “crown of thorns”. Although she was a beautiful, virtuous, exemplary housewife and a pious spouse, giving him no occasion for discontentment, he still treated her very wretchedly. Her unhappy marriage caused her grieving parents to move to Constantinople. Her father died there soon after. Her mother then became a nun, and because of her virtue, she eventually became an abbess.
Despite her marital martyrdom, Thomais continued her God-pleasing way of life. Day and night she worked in her home, weaving clothes for the poor and serving meals to the hungry. Diligently she sought for needy persons, in order to help them. The study of the Holy Scriptures was her greatest delight, and prayer, vigils and attending the divine services in the churches were her greatest consolation.
Her husband, however, continued to be of an opposite disposition. He was unbelieving, avaricious, and greedy; and he spoke sarcastically to his saintly wife, reviling her piety and love. And not only this, but he beat her roughly, all over her body. She, however, remained unshaken, ever trusting in the will of God. She even rejoiced that she was martyrically on account of her love for her neighbor (that is, her husband). For she did not stop loving her husband, and she tried not to give him any cause for offense.
From this way of life, the Saint became a pure vessel of the Holy Spirit, and she was found worthy to work miracles. But despite all of this, her husband remained unrepentant.
Her death occurred as a result of the blows inflicted upon her by her barbaric husband. So, after thirteen years of martyrdom in her marriage, she found rest. She was thirty-eight years old.
Saint Thomais was buried in the monastery where her mother had become abbess. Her grave became a fountain of many healings.
She continued to demonstrate her love for her husband even after her death. Demon-possessed and living a wretched life, he was led to her tomb, where he received healing. From that moment, he began living a new life of virtue and piety.
For centuries, her honorable relics remained incorrupt. The wounds she had received from her husband were especially evident on her hands.
Although St. Thomais provides us with an extraordinary example of long-suffering, a genuinely Christian virtue, we also must remember that probably few are able to endure in the proper spirit such physical and emotional abuse from their spouses as did St. Thomais , St. Susanna of Georgia, and St. Golindoc. While the saints have much to say about the great spiritual value in bearing tribulations and suffering nobly–which should never be forgotten–they also point out that “God does not demand of us what is above our strength.” The Orthodox Church, while always upholding the ideal of the eternality of marriage, allows separation, and even divorce, in such cases, recognizing that one of the spouses has already broken the marriage bond of love. Yet even if a wife or husband decides that it is impossible to continue living with an abusive spouse, nevertheless the attitude of unconditional love and forgiveness of wrongs, as demonstrated by St. Thomais, should always remain the goal.
taken from the book Marriage as a Path to Holiness: Lives of Married Saints