Saturday Saints- #21

Today’s Saint is one who suffered greatly for his piety and his firm adherence to the faith, Theodore the Studite:

Theodore the Studite (also known as Theodorus Studita, St. Theodore of Stoudios, and St. Theodore of Studium; 759–826) was a Byzantine Greek monk and abbot of the Stoudios monastery in Constantinople. Theodore’s letter, containing suggested monastery reform rules, is the first recorded stand against slavery. He played a major role in the revivals both of Byzantine monasticism and of classical literary genres in Byzantium. He is known as a zealous opponent of iconoclasm, one of several conflicts that set him at odds with both emperor and patriarch.

(The full wiki article on him can be found here)

I first found out about Saint Theodore when I was looking at his contemporary Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople. What impressed me about Saint Theodore, and soured me to Tarasios, was the Moechian controversy and how each man responded to it. For those unfamiliar to that bit of history (like I was), here is what happened: The Eastern Emperor, Constantine VI, decided to divorce his wife (and send her off to a convent) and marry his mistress, who happened to be his wife’s lady-in-waiting. The Patriarch of Constantinople, Tarasios, didn’t speak up against this adulterous union. Theodore, on the other hand, did. Theodore demanded the excommunication of the priest who officiated the “wedding”, along with those who received communion from him (which would have included the emperor). After declining an offer from Constantine to make peace (which didn’t include Constantine repenting of his sin), Theodore was seized by imperial troops, flogged and banished.

Reading about that time made me realize how much we need spiritual leaders like Theodore in the Church right now. For Catholics, someone of that stature is needed to decry the abuse of annulments, which have basically become divorces in the Catholic Church. And Protestants could surely use someone willing to call out abuses of their own standards of marriage and divorce. Here is a question that I think we all should ask: how many Christian leaders do you know in the West who would be willing to face torture and banishment for speaking out against the rampant adultery and desecration of marriage that occurs daily?

The number, whatever it is, is not enough.

Saint Theodore the Studite

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Saturday Saints- #21

  1. femininebutnotfeminist

    This Saint is awesome, and “has a good head on his shoulders”. He was brave to stand alone on this simply because it was the right and God-honoring thing to do. I don’t know of many people like that. I’m betting I’m not the only one who can say that, unfortunately.

    I appreciate you pointing out that adulterous unions aren’t real marriages, seeing as how such things anger God. For example, David and Bathsheba. Their first child was struck down because of their behavior.

  2. Yes, he was an impressive man.

    One thing that should be noted is that Tarasios, the Patriarch of Constantinople, was chosen by the Empress-Regent Irene years before. Since his position was controlled by the imperial family, he faced a considerable amount of pressure to conform to their will. I take this as a valuable lesson in keeping the realm of Caesar and the realm of God well apart, i.e., the separation of Church and State. As demonstrated here, it is often a vital bit of protection towards for the church.

  3. mdavid

    …a zealous opponent of iconoclasm…

    I could easily see myself falling for this heresy.

  4. mdavid

    …to decry the abuse of annulments, which have basically become divorces in the Catholic Church.

    I don’t think this is true. Rather, many marriages in the RRC are not sacramentally valid, and the Church is negligent in participating in the charade. Remember, the sacrament is instituted (or not) by the couple’s intent, not their words or the the priest (as in the East). Annulments in the RCC are probably too restricted, actually.

  5. mdavid,
    You’re confusing those whom make the sacrament happen with what makes it valid.

    It is the couple’s actions and intents that make the sacrament happen, yes. The priest’s main function is to bless the sacrament, yes. The community is involved and made aware of the impending marriage through announcements made to the parish so that all in the community can take part in the glory of a marriage, yes.

    However, it is not a valid marriage without the Church’s involvement. The Church’s requirements are put in place for very valid, important reasons. A couple rebels against those at their own peril. At best, you could consider it a natural marriage that has the graces involved of a non-Catholic marriage. However, since the couple involved would be participating in disobedience and rebellion against Holy Mother Church, they would likely forfeit all graces involved even in that until they repented, did penance, and received the blessings of the Church.

    What makes you think that there are too many restrictions on annulments?

  6. Sorry, I fell into some traps myself.

    The marriage is valid if there are three things involved. If both couples are baptized, if they know that the marriage is until death, and if it is for the purpose of creating a family.

    Hence, any marriage is considered a valid Catholic marriage if the couple is baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit with water, even if they are protestant. It is valid if they say the words “Until death do us part”. It is valid if they are creating a family (man and woman, not same sex).

    That is all that is required, and many potential converts that have divorced multiple times have a hard time because of previous marriages. But, the Church considers those valid.

    Now, are they blessed by the Church, and thus able to confer grace upon the individuals? Not if they’re Catholics in acting in disobedience to Holy Mother Church. Thus, they must follow the forms and rules of the Church to receive the sacrament properly and actually benefit from their marriage.

    Doing otherwise is similar to receiving communion improperly with mortal sins upon your soul. You do more harm than good when you abuse sacraments.

  7. mdavid

    Chad, I’m not sure what you were getting at regarding disobedience or whatnot. My original comment is correct.

    What makes you think that there are too many restrictions on annulments?

    The reason annulments are probably too restricted today is because so many couples (it only takes one of the two) never really believed marriage was for life in all circumstances, and many were never fully open to life (again, it only takes one). Either one invalidates the sacramental marriage.

    Of course couples demur (lie) to get their Church wedding. And of course any competent priest could typically prevent this if they gave a damn. But that would mean facing the ugly reality that most of their flock are functional agnostics. Oh, the drama! So much easier to look away, have bullshit ceremonies…and drag their feet on obvious annulments five years later. I swear, this stuff is so blatant it makes me wonder if it’s all a conspiracy…like the sex scandal, it’s clear what’s happening and why but nobody has the balls to tell the truth and take the lumps. Cowards, nearly all. Let’s just quit claiming annulments are functional divorces (I’m not saying you are). Those marriages never happened, no matter what the priest said.

  8. Pingback: Saturday Saints- Registry | Donal Graeme

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