Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
Prayer of Saint John Chrysostom
According to the Hours of the Day and Night
O Lord, deprive me not of Thy heavenly blessings; O Lord, deliver me from eternal torment; O Lord, if I have sinned in my mind or thought, in word, deed, forgive me. O Lord, deliver me from every ignorance and heedlessness, from pettiness of the soul and stony hardness of heart; O Lord, deliver me from every temptation; O Lord, enlighten my heart darkened by evil desires; O Lord, I, being a human being, have sinned; do Thou, being God, forgive me in Thy lovingkindness, for Thou knowest the weakness of my soul. O Lord, Lord, send down Thy grace to help me, that I may glorify Thy Holy Name; O Lord, Jesus Christ, inscribe me, Thy servant, in the Book of Life, and grant me a blessed end; O Lord my God, even if I have done nothing good in Thy sight, yet grant me, according to Thy grace, that I may make a start in doing good. O Lord, sprinkle on my heart the dew of Thy grace; O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me, Thy sinful servant, cold of heart and impure, in Thy Kingdom. O Lord, receive me in repentance; O Lord, leave me not; O Lord, save me from temptation; O Lord, grant me pure thoughts; O Lord, grant me tears of repentance, remembrance of death, and the sense of peace; O Lord, grant me mindfulness to confess my sins; O Lord, grant me humility, magnanimity, and gentleness; O Lord, implant in me the root of all blessings: the fear of Thee in my heart; O Lord, vouchsafe that I may love Thee with all my heart and soul, and that I may obey in all things Thy will; O Lord, shield me from evil persons and devils and passions and all other lawless matters; O Lord, Who knowest Thy creation and that which Thou hast willed for it; may Thy will also be fulfilled in me, a sinner, for Thou art blessed forevermore. Amen.
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn of Saint John Chrysostom. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Grace shining forth from thy mouth like a beacon hath illumined the universe, and disclosed to the world treasures of uncovetousness, and shown us the heights of humility; but whilst instructing us by they words, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.
Kontakion. Plagal of Second Tone
From the Heavens hast thou received divine grace, and by thy lips thou dost teach all to worship the One God in Trinity, O John Chrysostom, all-blessed righteous one. Rightly do we acclaim thee, for thou art a teacher revealing things divine.
The Life of Our Father Among the Saints, John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople
Saint John Chrysostom, beacon of the whole world, pillar and confirmation of the Church, and preacher of repentance, was born in the city of Antioch the Great in Syria in the year 344 or 347 A.D.; his pious parents were called Secundus and Anthusa. After his mother was widowed at the age of twenty, she devoted herself to bringing up John and his elder sister in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. John received his literary training under Anthragathius the philosopher, and Libanius the sophist, who was the greatest Greek scholar and rhetorician of his day. Libanius was a pagan, and when asked before his death whom he wished to have for his successor, he said, "John, had not the Christians stolen him from us." With such training, and with such gifts as he had by nature, John had before him a brilliant career as a rhetorician. But through the good example of his godly mother Anthusa and of the Holy Bishop Meletius of Antioch (see Feb. 12), by whom he was ordained reader about the year 370, he chose instead to dedicate himself to God. From the year 374 to 381 A.D. he lived monastic life in the hermitages that were near Antioch. His extreme asceticism undermined his health, compelling him to return to Antioch, where Saint Meletius ordained him deacon about the year 381 A.D. Saint Meletius was called to Constantinople later that year to preside over the Second Ecumenical Council, during which he fell asleep in the Lord. In 386 A.D. Bishop Flavian ordained John presbyter of the Church of Antioch. Upon his elevation to the priesthood his career as a public preacher began, and his exceptional oratorical gifts were made manifest through his many sermons and commentaries. They are distinguished by their eloquence and the remarkable ease with which rich imagery and scriptural allusions are multiplied; by their depth of insight into the meaning of Holy Scripture and the workings of God's providence; and, not least of all, by their earnestness and moral force, which issue from the heart of a blameless and guileless man who lived first what he preached to others. Because of his fame, he was chosen to succeed Saint Nectarius as Patriarch of Constantinople. He was taken away by stealth, to avoid the opposition of the people, and consecrated Patriarch of Constantinople on February 28, 398 A.D. by Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who was to prove his mortal enemy.
At that time the Emperor of the East was Arcadius, who had had Saint Arsenius the Great as his tutor (see May 8th); Arcadius was a man of weak character, and much under the influence of his wife Evdoxia. The zealous and upright Chrysostom's unsparing censures of the lax morals in the imperial city stung the vain Evdoxia; through Theophilus' plottings and her collaboration, Saint John was banished to Pontus in 403 A.D. The people were in an uproar, and the following night an earthquake shook the city; this so frightened the Empress Evdoxia that she begged Arcadius to call Chrysostom back. While his return was triumphant, his reconciliation with the Empress did not last long. When she had a silver statue of herself erected in the forum before the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Saint Sophia) in September of 403 A.D. and had it dedicated with much unseemly revelry, Saint John thundered against her, and she could not forgive him. In June of 404 A.D. he was exiled to Cucusus, on the borders of Cilicia and Armenia. From here he exchanged letters with Pope Innocent of Rome, who sent bishops and priests to Constantinople requesting that a council be held. Saint John's enemies, dreading his return, prevailed upon the Emperor to see an insult in this, and had St. John taken to a more remote place of banishment called Pityus near the Caucasus. The journey was filled with bitter sufferings for the aged bishop, both because of the harshness of the elements and the cruelty of one of his guards. He did not reach Pityus, but gave up his soul to the Lord near Comana in Pontus, at the chapel of the Holy Martyr Vasiliscus (see May 22nd), who had appeared to him shortly before, foretelling the day of his death, which came to pass on September 14, 407 A.D. His last words were "Glory be to God for all things." His holy relics were brought form Comana to Constantinople thirty-one years later by the Emperor Theodosius the Younger and Saint Pulcheria his sister, the children of Arcadius and Evdoxia, with fervent supplications that the sin of their parents against him be forgiven; this return of his holy relics is celebrated on January 27th.
Saint John was surnamed Chrysostom ("Golden-mouth") because of his eloquence. He made exhaustive commentaries on the divine Scriptures and was the author of more works than any other Church Father, leaving us complete commentaries on the Book of Genesis, the Gospels of Saints Matthew and John, the Acts, and all the Epistle of Saint Paul. His extant works are 1,447 sermons and 240 epistles. Twenty-two teachers of the Church have written homilies of praise n his honor. Besides his feasts today and on January 27th, he is celebrated as one of the Three Hierarchs on January 30th, together with Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian.
Stichera (Great Vespers). Plagal of First Tone. Rejoice
Rejoice, gold-bright, divinely-inspired, and tuneful instrument delighting the Church of Christ, O tongue making known the sundry ways of repentance for us in a gracious manner full of love for man; rejoice, mind of golden form, fairest swallow of golden voice; O psalmic dove that hast thy pinions of sparkling gold, glittering like gold with the virtues' clear radiance; rejoice, fairest river bright as gold, whence issue most mighty floods, O mouth of God and assurance and pledge of God's certain love for man. Implore Christ, O Father, to send down abundant peace and great mercy on our souls. Rejoice, most speedy help of the wronged, father of orphans and provider of needy folk; uprighting of fallen sinners, food of the hungered and poor; most revered and skilful healer of men's souls; exactness and faithful rule of exalted theology, elucidation that distinctly doth clarify all the Holy Writ of the Spirit, O Chrysostom; law of God-pleasing diligence and standard of rectitude, O contemplation and action, the height of wisdom and end thereof. Implore Christ, O Father, to send down abundant peace and great mercy on our souls.
Saint John Chrysostom
"I speak not, indeed, of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not merely an abstinence from meats; but from sins too. For the nature of a fast is such, that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it, unless it be done according to a suitable law. "For the wrestler," it is said, "is not crowned unless he strive lawfully." To the end then, that when we have gone through the labor of fasting, we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner, it is necessary to conduct this business; since that Pharisee also fasted, but afterwards when down empty, and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that thou mayest learn that fasting is unprofitable, except all other duties follow with it. The Ninevites fasted, and won the favor of God The Jews fasted too, and profited nothing, nay they departed with blame. Since then the danger in fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not "run uncertainly," but a medicine, though it be never so profitable, becomes frequently useless owing to the unskillfulness of him who employs it. For it is necessary to know, moreover, the time when it should be applied, and the requisite quantity of it; and the temperament of body that admits it; and the nature of the country, and the season of the year; and the corresponding diet; as well as various other particulars; any of which, if one overlooks, he will mar all the rest that have been named. Now if, when the body needs healing, such exactness is required on our part, much more ought we, when our care is about the soul, and we seek to heal the distempers of the mind, to look, and to search into every particular with the utmost accuracy.
I have said these things, not that we may disparage fasting, but that we honor fasting; for the honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meats is one who especially disparages it. Do you fast? Give me proof of it by thy works! Is it said by what kind of works? If thou seest a poor man, take pity on him! If thou seest an enemy, be reconciled to him! If thou seest a friend gaining honor, envy him not! If thou seest a handsome woman, pass her by! For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eyes, and ear and the fee, and the hands, and all members of our bodies. Le the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice. Let the feet fast, by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles. Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves with strange beauties. For looking is the food of the eyes, but if this be such as is unlawful or forbidden, it mars the fast; and upsets the whole safety of the soul; but if it be lawful and safe, it adorns fasting. For it would be among things the most absurd to abstain from lawful food because of the fast, but with the eyes to touch even what is forbidden. Do you not eat flesh? Feed not upon lasciviousness by means of the eyes. Let the ear fast also. The fasting the ear consists in refusing to receive evil speaking and calumnies. "Thou shalt not receive a false report," it says."
ON THE RESURRECTION
"On the resurrection of the flesh he says: "If God had not intended to raise up us again, if it was His desire that we should all be dissolved and blotted out in annihilation, He would not have wrought so many things for us. He would not spread the heavens above, or stretched out the earth beneath. He would have not fashioned this whole universe, if it were only for the short span of our lives. The heavens and the earth and the seas and the rivers are more enduring than we are; ravens and elephants live longer, and they are more free from griefs and cares. What then? You ask. Has God made the slaves better than the masters? I beseech you, do not thus reason, O man, nor be so ignorant of the riches God spread out before you. From the beginning God desired to make thee immortal. Ah, but thou were unwilling."
ON MONASTIC LIFE AND MONKS
"And about the monastic life and monks he says: "They do not demand a few hours in which to shake the sleep from their eyes As soon as they have opened their eyes, they are like people who have been immersed in contemplation for many hours; for their brains are not chocked by an excess of food, and their hands too are pure, being composed in sleep and quietness. Among the monks, none snores or breathes hard or tosses in his bed or lies with his body exposed, but they sleep as decently as those who are awake, and all this is due to the orderly progress within their souls. These men are truly saints and angels. And do not wonder when you hear these things: their fear of God is so great that they do not suffer themselves to lose themselves in the depths of sleep and drown their minds. Sleep falls gently on them, giving them only a peaceful rest."
Please note: On the Feast-Day of our beloved Saint John Chrysostom: Orthros (Matins): 9:00 a.m and Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m. Following the Divine Liturgy I will bring out from the holy altar the holy relics of Saint John Chrysostom for those present to venerate. I will also bless you with oil from the Altar vigil light for "health of soul and body." I pray to see as many of you as is possible.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
[Rest from labor. Wine and oil allowed.]