St Tithoes of Thebaid: True humility and love

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, today we remember Saint Tithoes of the Thebaid, disciple of St Pachomius the Great, in the 4th century. Father among the saints, Saint Tithoes, pray for us.

Today, in the Armenian Apostolic Church, as well as Roman Catholic and Eastern Churches observing the Gregorian calendar, also marks the very important feast day of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, Mother of God. In the Julian Calendar we observe, we mark the meeting of the Theotokos of Vladimir “tenderness” wonderworking icon. Most Holy Theotokos, pray for us all.

The Theotokos of Vladimir icon is what we call the “tenderness” icon, or “Eleusa”, where the Most Holy Theotokos is shown in great motherly love towards our Christ and Lord. The icon was written by the Holy Apostle, Saint Luke the Evangelist. Many great events have taken place in solemn ceremonies before this great icon, including the coronation of tsars and the consecration of patriarchs alike.

It is exactly this tenderness, this love, this prayerful tears, of our Most Holy Theotokos, that tells us the bond between God and humankind, through the Most Holy Theotokos embracing our Christ and Lord. It also inspires us that we are to celebrate, grow, and transfigure our faith to become a great love for our Lord and God, and in turn, show the same love towards all others. In St Mark 3:28-35, Christ our Lord reminded us that all those who are true and prayerful to God, are our parents, siblings, and families. In short, we are to treat others as no less than our kin, with the same love, much as our beloved Theotokos embraced the Son of God, our Christ and Lord.

Saint Tithoes was a disciple of Saint Pachomius, one of the great Coptic desert father saints. Both saints were from Thebaid, or Upper Egypt. Saint Tithoes was known for his purity, contemplative prayer, and humility. One of his brethren asked him how to walk towards humility. The saint replied, “The path of humility, is abstinence, prayer, and considering oneself as the least of all creatures”.

The path to love is not pity nor sympathy, but one of humility. The best intentions that grow out of pride and arrogance can only result in showing pity for others, and at worst, disdain for others. But when pride is washed away, humility allows us to reveal the love that can be found in us, for God, and for all His creations. In 2 Corinthians 10:7-18, we read and reflect that we are to look beyond what we see physically, and to look pass successes and achievements, but to attribute all such things to the glory of God.

Saint Tithoes therefore, reminded us that if we are to consider ourselves the least of all creatures, then devoid of pride, we become able to love God, and to love others, without putting ourselves ahead of God and others. Saint Tithoes also reminded us in the same short but profound comment, that we are to temper our passions, and to keep praying.

Remind ourselves often, in the complete faith of our Most Holy Theotokos to every command of God, as a symbol of the walk of humanity towards God. Most Holy Theotokos, remember us in your prayers. And always keep the Holy Name of Christ our Lord close to us, for His Holy Name bears our faith, grants us mercy and forgiveness, and becomes our inner prayer. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Numbers 12:1-8
Ecclesiastes 5:1-7
St Mark 3:28-35
2 Corinthians 10:7-18