The Rose of Purity
by bishop florina Augustine Kantiotis
The Most Precious Treasure
My Beloved children,
I have many things to tell you, but here now I will only stress one thing: that you are no longer small children; you’re not little sucklings nor infants nor children of grade school. You are already at the most beautiful but also the most difficult age, the age of puberty. You are 13, 14, 15, and 16 years old. Not big but neither small. And I prove it. One night, with drenching rain, I went to Astrapo, a village that is built on the slopes of the VitsiMountain which is 900 meters high. The inhabitants of the village gathered together and I spoke to them. The women were dressed with the beautiful Macedonian dress, which is the most beautiful and most modest style. So I saw there girls your age being affectionate mothers and holding babies in their bosoms. You’ll tell me, Is it right for them to marry so young? That’s another issue; I don’t examine it here. It has its pros and cons. That which I want to emphasize here is that other girls your age are mothers. Consequently you too, even though you’re not parents, all have, more or less, an idea about sex in our epoch of pansexualism in which we live.
I’m not about to talk to you about sex here. I’ll say only one thing: My children, you are in danger of losing the most precious treasure that you have, your virginity, your purity. Be very careful. You are beautiful buds. Have you seen buds during spring in the gardens? The rose-bush especially has beautiful buds.
A Pig in the Rose-bushes
In one of my earlier travels I remember a gardener, who would tell me a beautiful example. This gardener took care of a beautiful garden. He even placed a fence around it. But one pig that had an appetite for the rose-bushes, wanted to eat them and make them into manure. What, then, did he do? Did he eat them? No, he didn’t eat them. Why? Listen. The pig broke through the fence and entered the flower garden. It fell with a surge upon the rose-bushes, but – O its misfortune! – the rose-bushes had a protector. And their protector was the thorns. The gluttonous swine nailed its face into the thorns; he felt pain, bled and left…
The example that the gardener told me is very suitable, my children, to your situation. You too are rose-bushes. Rational and free rose-bushes of God. But be careful! Your beauty provokes vulgar people, who like unclean pigs surge to tear you apart. And God armed you with a fearful thorn, and that is – as pedagogues and psychologists, who occupy themselves with your age, say – shame. You have shame and you turn red. If you see a girl that doesn’t turn red, be afraid of her. She is shameless, impudent. Modest girls turn red, lower their eyes before their father, their teacher, their professor, their elder.
God, then, gave you aido (shame). That’s what shame is called in Greek. So see to it well. Whoever approaches you with sweet and beautiful words, small or big or even an old man, take a stick and “soften” his ribs. Your hand will become sanctified. Guard your virginity. Remain pure and untouched until your marriage. Don’t rush; that time will come. All of you will marry. None of you is about to become nuns or missionary persons; these instances are most rare. You will create families and you will be affectionate mothers, just like those up on Astrapo, concerning whom I was speaking previously.
I say to you another thing too. That many girls fell. I don’t condemn them; I weep and am pained for them. They were beautiful buds, and the pigs came and made them into manure. I don’t call them swine, but the Bible does. Many, then, after the skillful, clever ones rung them and threw them like lemons into the streets, came to the metropolis and they cry and threaten suicide. I feel their pain, of course, and I try to console them. But I don’t hide the fact that they too are at fault.
A Beautiful and Modest Custom
Only in the settlement of the gypsies here in Florina, as I also wrote in the “Spitha”, do they have the modest custom concerning this issue. Surely they have their faults too, but they have this good thing. The women marry young and have many children, most intelligent, most capable and red-rose colored from health. When they become engaged, the one doesn’t touch the other until they marry. And when they do marry, they have affection and interest the one for the other. While other young women have no principle, no respect concerning this issue. And the result? Tragic for the women. You women pay the consequences. The unclean swine, who pluck the rose-bushes, don’t care for anything. The girls remain old maids…
A wise sociologist said that, if girls remained pure and held at a distance men who want to amuse themselves with them, then no girl would remain unmarried. Even the ugliest girl would marry. For a man usually cannot live without a woman. But since, without marrying, he finds one and two and three and five and as many as he wants, and does whatever he wants with them, why should he marry? Foreigners who visited Greece, when they returned to their fatherland, said: In Greece everything is expensive: the meat, the fish, the drinks, all the merchandise; only one thing is very cheap, woman’s meat…Goodness, goodness, where have we ended up!
A Heroic Resistance
I entreat you, my children, cultivate among the other good things also the heroic resistance against every “pig”, whatever name that pig might have. Remain untouched, and God will bless you. Your prototype is not only the superb examples of the pure women of antiquity, but especially your prototype is the person of the super-holy Theotokos, who is always set before you as a spiritual mirror. Remain pure and proper in respect to your tongue, your feelings, and your actions. Be proper even in regard to your thoughts.
Why, how in this sinful century will you be able to live such a pure life? You can’t do it alone. Only one power exists, which, if you draw from it, will make you into heroines. It will make you reach marriage undefiled and clean; to become mothers, and to bring into the world genuine children, which will continue the glorious history of this small but martyric nation of ours; and, when you grow old, you shall have unspeakable joy, because in your youth you remained pure and untouched. And this power is the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the omnipotent, all-powerful grace of Christ, whom, you, O young women, praise and exalt unto all the ages.
With paternal wishes,
Your spiritual father
(A recorded initial address to girls of junior high school at camp in the year 1988. Published in “Student Lightning” no. 121)