Author Topic: Blessed Mother Theodora of Alexandria  (Read 701 times)

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Offline CBGardner

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Blessed Mother Theodora of Alexandria
« on: June 22, 2011, 08:21:55 PM »
So last night I read Holy Theodora's story in The Lives of the Saints(Chrysostom Press.) She was an amazing woman with such humility. There is one thing I don't understand. Why did God find it holy that she kept her identity a secret all those years? Why pretend to be a man? There were many monasteries for females. I in no way doubt her piety and understand I am the one who needs learning, I just don't understand why God was ok with that lying. Isn't that a lifestyle of continuous deceit? Her work for God is much more than anything I could achieve so maybe that balanced it out. I don't know....
« Last Edit: June 22, 2011, 08:22:08 PM by CBGardner »
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Blessed Mother Theodora of Alexandria
« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2011, 09:25:30 PM »
By the same standard, a Holy Fool is also a "liar" who feigns insanity or cognitive disability. But I don't think we can use the "same standard" when looking at Orthodox spirituality as we do when looking at the world in general.
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Offline CBGardner

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Re: Blessed Mother Theodora of Alexandria
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2011, 01:49:22 PM »
What you say makes sense. So can we say that she didn't sin to pretend to be a man? And if she didn't, is it not considered a sin since it was ultimately for the glory of God?
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Blessed Mother Theodora of Alexandria
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2011, 03:03:41 PM »
Ha! Funny you should begin this thread. She is definitely one of the Saints which most fascinates and challenges me.

According to the version of her Life I read, the reason she didn't go to the local abbey is she was afraid her husband would find her there. To me this says there is more to their relationship when we are told. I know the account begins with what a loving home they had, but is it possible when he found out she'd been unfaithful that he would have tried to harm her? Maybe killed her out of "honor?" Another possibility might be that as an adulteress her husband would have been inclined to divorce her, and wouldn't that have meant in the time and place that she would be considered too "broken" to marry and would have to become a prostitute just to survive?

Also, perhaps she didn't reveal herself to the monks so as not to tempt them? I don't know, those are just some possibilities that occur to me.

Offline Volnutt

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Re: Blessed Mother Theodora of Alexandria
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2011, 04:29:52 PM »
Ok, nevermind that. According to Saint Dimitri of Rostov, she ran away from her husband out of shame. http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/09/secret-sin-of-saint-theodora-of.html

Apparently the moral, according to Saint Nikolai Velimirovic, is if your spouse feels called to a convent, let them go.

Quote
St. Nikolai goes on to offer the following reflection about how St. Theodora went to live in a convent following her sin without telling her husband. It should be noted that the Holy Fathers in a later Canon ruled that husbands or wives are no longer permitted to do such a thing without mutual consent, yet St. Nikolai offers the following advice if the desire comes up in at least one spouse:

One must not hinder anyone on the path of perfect devotion and service to God. Many saintly women who wanted to flee from marriage and devote themselves to God were pursued and hindered in this by their husbands. These women were usually victorious in the end, remaining steadfast in their intention, and often awakened the consciences of their husbands by their example, and directed them on the path of salvation. St. Theodora, dressed in men's clothing, had to carefully hide from her husband, and she retreated to a men's monastery. However, there were prudent husbands who approved their wives' intentions, permitting their withdrawal from the world to devote their lives completely to God. King Frederick was betrothed to a Czech maiden, Agnes. But she never agreed to enter into marriage, and broke her betrothal, fleeing to a monastery. Then the prudent king said: "Had she left me for a mortal man, I would have sought revenge; but I must not find myself insulted that she chose the Heavenly King in place of me."

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Blessed Mother Theodora of Alexandria
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2011, 08:34:27 PM »
What you say makes sense. So can we say that she didn't sin to pretend to be a man? And if she didn't, is it not considered a sin since it was ultimately for the glory of God?
Lets say you lived near Auschwitz and someone escaped from the concentration camp and you gave them shelter for the night and then sent them to a safe place. If the SS then came to your door and asked if you'd seen the escapee, is it a sin for you to deny it? In the same vein, if someone is escaping from the even worse prison of their sin, whatever their means of escape, the aim is to escape.
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