Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ the Only True God and the Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
A PRAYER TO THE ALMIGHTY GOD [FROM THE DIVINE LITURGY OF SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOMOS]
O Holy God, Who restest amongst Saints, Who art hymned by the Seraphim with Thrice-Holy voice, and glorified by the Cherubim, and worshipped by every heavenly Power; Who out of nothing hast brought all things into being; Who hast created man after Thine Own image and likeness, and hast adorned him with all Thy gifts; Thou Who givest to the supplicants wisdom and understanding, and dost not overlook the sinner, but hast set forth the way to repentance unto salvation; Thou Who hast vouchsafed unto us, Thy humble and unworthy servants, to stand at this time before the Glory of Thy Holy Altar and to offer worship and praise which are due to Thee; do Thou, O Master, accept the Trisagion hymn from the mouth of us the sinners, and visit us Thy Goodness. Forgive us every transgression whether voluntary or involuntary; sanctify our souls and bodies, and grant us to worship Thee in holiness all the days of our life, through the intercession of the Holy Theotokos an all the Saints, who have pleased Thee all the ages. Amen.
On November 13 Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics and Teachers of Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople; Saints Euprasius and Quintianus, Bishops of Cloermont; Saint Briscus, Bishop of Tours; New holy Martyr Damaskenos of Mt. Athos.
OUR HOLY FATHER, SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE. Saint John was born in Antioch, Syria, in the mid-fourth century. His parents were unbelievers. His father, who was an officer, was named Secundus and his mother was Anthusa, and they were persons of wealth and repute. When Saint John reached the proper age, he was entrusted to the sophist Libanius and the philosopher Andragraphius, who instructed him in the learning of the Greek. Although but a youth, he surpassed many older men in understanding, for he came to know the One True God, the Creator of all, and to disdain the godless polytheism of the pagans. Saint John was baptized by the Most holy Patriarch Meletius, who was at that time priest of the Church of Antioch. Not long thereafter, it pleased God the most good to illumine Saint John's parents with the holy faith so that they who brought into the world this great luminary might not continue to wander astray in the darkness of unbelief. Secundus departed unto the Lord and a better life soon after receiving Holy Baptism, leaving Anthusa, St. John's mother, a very young widow. She was little more than twenty years old when her husband died.
Saint John wished to enter a monastery immediately and to become a monk but was held back by this mother. Learning of his intention, she pleaded with him, weeping: "My child! I did not long enjoy conjugal life with your father, for death, in accordance with God's will, left me a widow and you an orphan. But no sorrow has succeeded in compelling me to marry a second time and to bring another man into your father's house. I have endured the woes and fires of widowhood with God's help because I had the joy of gazing often upon your face, which greatly resembles that of your father. I have not squandered your father's wealth in the troubles that have befallen me as a widow, but have preserved it untouched to provide for your needs. Therefore, I beseech you, my child: do not force a second widowhood upon me but wait until my death, which I expect with each passing day. And thus she persuaded him not to forsake her. At the time, Zeno, the Archbishop of Jerusalem, happened to be in Antioch, and tonsured St. John a reader. He remained in that rank for three years. Then Saint John's mother died, and after burying her, he gave away all his possessions to the poor, freeing his servants and bidding farewell to his relatives and friends. He went to a monastery, where he became a monk and began to labor for the Lord day and night, toiling and struggling greatly. It was there that he wrote the books On the Priesthood, On Contrition of Heart, and An Epistle to the Fallen Monk Theodore. Saint John gained his epithet 'Golden Mouth' (Chryso-stomos) because of the limpid quality of his Greek.
QUOTATIONS FROM SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM:
"When you see anyone living in wickedness but suffering no misfortune in this life, do not call him lucky, but weep and mourn for him, because he will have to endure all the misfortunes in the next life, just like the rich man in the parable. Again, when you see anyone cultivating virtue, but enduring a multitude of trials, call him lucky, envy him, because all his sins are being dissolved in this life, and a great reward for his endurance is being prepared in the next life; just as it happened for the man Lazarus."
"Do you know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wraith for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed."
"For punishment is not evil, but sin is evil. The latter separates us from God, but the former leads us towards God, and dissolved His anger."
"If anyone wishes to win a heavenly crown let him choose the hard and laborious life."
"But, you say, you cannot keep silent when you are pricked by distress. I certainly do not forbid you to make a sound, but give thanks instead of blasphemy, worship instead of despair. Confess to the Lord, cry out loudly in prayer, cry out loudly glorifying God. In this way your suffering will be lightened, because the devil will pull back from your thanksgiving and God's help will be at your side. If you blaspheme, you have driven away God's assistance, made the devil more vehement against you, and involved yourself even more in suffering; but if you give thanks, you have driven away the plots of the evil demon, and you have drawn the care of God your protector to yourself."
"Nothing is so deadly to sin as self-accusation and self-condemnation with repentance and tears."
"Censure is a kind of holy anchor of our conscience, which does not allow us finally to be submerged in the depths of sin."
"The jealous person would prefer to suffer innumerable troubles rather than to see his neighbor in good repute, even if the cause of the good repute were to benefit him also."
"Why do we grieve for those who are being punished, but not for those who are sinning? Punishment is not as grievous as sin, for sin is the reason for the punishment."
"Just as the ark in the midst of the flood saved those who were inside, so the Church saves all those who go astray. But the ark merely saved them, while the Church does something more. I mean something like this: the ark received the irrational animals saved them as irrational animals. The Church has received irrational human beings and does not merely save them, but also changes them. The ark received a raven and sent forth a raven. The Church receives a raven and sends forth a dove; it receives a wolf and sends forth a sheep."
"What benefit is it to a man who has gained money but has not gained virtue?"
"Just as there are many stars and the sun and moon, so there is a difference among the righteous."
"Neither is there any righteous person without sin, nor any sinner entirely destitute of goodness."
"If this gate is narrow and requires much effort when you enter, nevertheless if you strive a little while, you will come out into a very wide place and an easy way which can offer you great relief."
"Wealth will be good for its possessor if he does not spend it only on luxury, or on strong drink and harmful pleasures; if he enjoys luxury in moderation and distributes the rest to the stomachs of the poor, then wealth is a good thing."
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: Hebrews 7:26-28, 8:1-2
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 10:9-16
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND EDIFICATION
"Yes, my dearly beloved children, truly we lack this most holy virtue, humility. Egotism, this evil wickedness, has caused all the sufferings of man. Indeed, humility is holiness!" [Geronda[Elder] Ephraim of Arizona]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
God bestowed upon Saint John the gift of teaching and the grace of the Holy Spirit, which worked in him even as it had in the holy Apostles. This was revealed to one of the monks living in that monastery, an ascetic named Hesychius. Venerable in years and perfect in every virtue, this Hesychius was also clairvoyant. One night, while keeping vigil and praying, he beheld in a vision two men of a magnificent appearance, clad in white garments and shining like the sun, who came down from heaven and entered the cell of the blessed John as he stood in prayer. One of them held a scroll covered with writing, and the other held keys. When St. John saw them, he was afraid and hastened to fall down to the ground before them. But they took him by the hands, and raising him up, said, "Take heart and have no fear."
The first of the two men stretched forth his hand and gave St. John the scroll. As he did this he said, "Take this scroll from my hand, for I am John, who rested on the Lord's breast at the Mystical Supper and received from Him divine revelations. The Lord shall also bestow upon you the depths of wisdom, enabling you to nourish the people with the imperishable food of the teaching of Christ. Your lips shall stop the mouths of Jews and heretics who utter blasphemies against God."
Then the second man stretched forth his hand and gave St. John the keys, saying, "I am Peter, and the keys to the Kingdom have been entrusted unto me. The Lord wishes to grant you the keys of the holy churches as well, so that whomsoever you shall bind may be bound and whomsoever you shall loose may be loosed."
The blessed John again prostrated himself before the two men, and asked, "Who am I to dare to take upon myself such great and fearful tasks? I am a sinner and worse than all other men."
But the holy Apostles took the Saint by the right hand, and raising him up, said, "Stand firmly, take courage, and be strong. Do what has been commanded you, and do not conceal the gift that our Lord Jesus Christ as bestowed on you. Enlighten His people and confirm them in the faith, for he shed His blood for their sake so that they might be freed from the deception of the enemy. Teach the word of God without hesitation, remembering the Lord's saying: 'Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.' Do not be timid: Christ our God is pleased to bring many souls to sanctification and enlightenment through you. Numerous woes will befall you for righteousness' sake, but you must remain as firm and adamant, for thus you shall inherit the Kingdom of God."
So saying, the holy Apostles made the sign of the Cross over St. John, gave him a kiss in the Lord, and departed.
Saint John was elevated to the Patriarchal Throne in the year 398 A.D. He was known for his wisdom and the power of his words. He was elected Patriarch at the age of forty-nine and served only six years, but during his tenure, he attacked excess and extreme wealth, purged the Church of simony, and sent missionaries to the idol-worshipping Scythians and Celts. He wrote the Divine Liturgy the Church uses for most of the calendar year. He interpreted Holy Scripture and left the Church with many sermons, including the one read on Pascha. He was sent into exile twice, the first time for harboring pious monks who had been excommunicated. The people were so upset that Saint John was quickly restored. When Saint John criticized the adulation at the unveiling of the statue of Empress Evdoxia, she exiled him permanently to Armenia. Saint John continued to communicate with the Church during the last three years of his life. His last words were, "Glory to God for everything!" Soon after Saint John's death, God punished his two greatest enemies. Patriarch Theophilos of Alexandria went mad, the Emperor Arcadius, who was largely responsible for Saint John's election as Patriarch, deposed Evdoxia. Evdoxia developed sores and worms and the stench could not be concealed by perfumes or incense, nor could people bear to pass close to her house. After she died, her coffin shook for thirty years. She finally received rest when her son prayed at Saint John's coffin in Constantinople.
Saint John's earliest writings emphasize the value of celibate life. He wrote to advise his friend Theodore (later bishop of Mopsuestia) not to abandon the monastic life. Other works of Saint John combat the attackers of Monasticism and defend the preference for virginity. Later, his experience as a pastor at Antioch and at Constantinople became the great apologist for Christian marriage.
Among the problems for the Church in a still largely pagan society was the development of a Christian doctrine of marriage and a Christian form of wedding. The doctrine of marriage was, of course, based on the Jewish law. Christ had modified this by forbidding divorce except in the most extreme case (St. Matthew 5:31-32). The Pauline Epistles to the Corinthians and Ephesians became the basis for the Christian teaching on marriage and virginity. The celibate life was valued, as it had not been in mainstream Judaism, in view of the imminent approach of the last times (I Cor. 7:25-35). Even when the end of time failed to arrive, the ascetic life in the form of Monasticism was recognized as a sign of God's Kingdom. At the same time, marriage was accepted as good. God had created humanity as male and female, with the intent that they should join together, even before the Fall (though some of the Fathers have taught that sexual procreation was instituted after the Fall). Christ blessed the wedding at Cana with His presence and performed a miracle which assisted the joyous celebration of the event (St. John 2:1-11). Saint Paul instructs married people to remain married (I Cor. 7:27). Saint Peter himself was married, and some of Saint Paul's missionary associates seem to have been married couples (Priscilla and Aquila, Andronicus and Junia, Philologus and Julia Romans 16:3, 7, 15).