Saintly Examples of Masochism to Gain Salvation

Saintly Examples of Masochism to Gain Salvation

Among many church fathers along with venerable saints, it was well known that a number of them suffered “self-mortification” (masochism) in order to gain salvation. For example, some lived for years in graves, crying inconsolably over their future death and the uncertainty of whether the Lord will accept them in the Kingdom of Heaven. Others bound themselves with heavy iron chains. One ate earth and drank sea water for three years. These and many other narratives should be read by everyone, especially those of Serbs and all other Orthodox nations, who are fighting against “destructive cults”. Yet, at the same time, such people allow their children to visit the churches and monasteries of the Orthodox liturgical church. This is the very church that venerates self-mutilation as valid examples of how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Here are some examples:

“The Venerable Thalalaeus… Thalelaeus was a Syrian ascetic. At first he resided in the Monastery of St. Sabas the Sanctified near Jerusalem but later he settled in a pagan cemetery known for the apparitions of evil spirits and frightening things. In order to conquer fear within himself through faith in God, Thalelaeus settled in this cemetery where he lived for many years enduring many assaults from evil spirits both day and night…” (February 27)

“The Venerable Eustratius… Eustratius was a native of Tarsus. He was a great ascetic and a man of prayer. During the seventy-five years he spent in the monastery, Eustratius never laid down to sleep on his left side but always on his right side. Throughout the Divine Services, from the beginning to the end, he repeated to himself: ‘Lord have mercy!’ He died in his ninety-fifth year.” (January 9)

“The Venerable Theodore Trihinos… Theodore was a citizen of Constantinople and the son of wealthy parents. As a young man he left his parent’s home and riches and entered a hermetical monastery in Thrace. Here, he imposed upon himself a most rigorous life of mortification. He slept on stones in order to sleep less. He traveled everywhere bareheaded and clothed himself in one garment made of “goat’s hair,” for which he was called Trihinos [Greek] Kostret [Serbian] for goat’s hair…” (April 20)

“The Venerable Theodore of Sykeon… Theodore’s life of mortification, by his ascetical severity, surpassed the living ascetics of his time. He mortified his body through hunger, thirst, iron chains and by standing at prayer all night.” (April 22)

“The Venerable Mark of Trache… Distributing all of his possessions to the poor, he sat on a plank in the sea and with a tenacious faith in God’s help, prayed that God direct him wherever He wills. God, in His Providence, protected him and brought him to Lybia (or Ethiopia) to a mountain called Trache. Mark lived an ascetical life on this mountain for ninety-five years, seeing neither man nor beast. For thirty years, he waged a violent combat with evil spirits and suffered from hunger, thirst, frost and heat. He ate dirt and drank sea water.” (April 5)

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