(The Story of the Grand Duchess Eudocia, tonsured as Euphrosyne, the wife of the Grand Duke Dimitri Ioannovich Donskoy).
To be saved, you need to preserve not only the purity of the soul, but also that of the body. And they that are Christ’s, the Apostle says, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24.) In fact, one thing is unthinkable without the other. Whoever has a pure body is mostly pure in spirit, but whoever desecrates his body is always wicked in mind. Meanwhile, the plague of voluptuousness in recent years is almost the most terrible public ill. People defile themselves and even dare to make excuses for it. “What can I do, I am but a human. I cannot live without it, I am not an Angel.” You can’t live without it, but how did the saints live? After all, they were people like us, they were clothed with the same flesh, they were equally passionate; and yet, they remained pure and chaste. You say that they went to deserts where they were not tempted. That’s not true, my dear! Many of them kept themselves from filth, and thus speak against you, not in deserts but at royal courts, and even as kings. Do you not believe it? Well, listen, we’ll demonstrate it to you as a matter of fact.
The Blessed Duchess Eudocia, who remained a widow after her husband, Grand Duke Dmitry Ioannovich Donskoy, had died, became a nun with the name Euphrosyne, built churches and monasteries and spent her life in holiness. However, foolish people, inspired by the devil, were perplexed when they looked at her, and they were saying, “Can she, being a sovereign and living in such a bliss, live a life of chastity?” Her children also heard about it, and she herself heard it. And then one day, when she noticed that one of her sons was embarrassed by bad rumors, she called him and the other sons and told them in tears, “Dear children, do not be disturbed. I will gladly accept all slander and defamation; but seeing one of you doubting me, I will reveal my secret to you.” So, she opened a small part of the garment on her chest, and showed them a part of her body which seemed blackened and burnt with fire because of her severe abstinence, and her flesh completely stuck to her bones. Her sons were terrified. The duchess forbade them to talk about it, and asked them not to persecute those who attacked her. Thus, it is said in her hagiography that it made her sons pray to God more and more ardently.
What will you who say, “I can’t live like this, I live in the world, I’m not an Angel” answer to that? Here the saint managed to stay chaste while living as a ruler, she crucified her flesh and, you might say, she mortified it for real. Why can’t you? It is because you do not want to, you do not avoid temptations but rather look for them. In any case, do not deceive yourselves: neither fornicators, … nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, … shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), but they, along with other great sinners, will burn in the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8). Amen.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds