My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only God and Our Only 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.
Apolytikion(Dismissal) Hymn of Saint John Chrysostom. Plagal of Fourth Tone
Grace shining forth from thy mouth like a beacon hath illumined the universal, and disclosed to the world treasures of uncovetousness, and shown us the heights of humility; but whilst instructing us by thy words, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.
Kontakion Hymn of the Saint. 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.
NOVEMBER 13th--THE FEAST DAY OF OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, ARCHBISHOP OF CONSTANTINOPLE
This greatest and most beloved of all Christian orators was born in Antioch the Great in the year 344 or 347 AD; 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 AD, he chose instead to dedicate himself to God. From the years 374 to 381 AD he lived the 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 AD. 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 AD 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 Nektarios 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 AD, by Theophilos, 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 AD. 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 Agia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) in September of 403 AD, and had it dedicated with much unseemly revelry, Saint John thundered against her, and she could not forgive him. In June of 404 AD, 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 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 Martyr Vasiliscus (see May 22), who had appeared to him shortly before, foretelling the day of his death, which came to pass on September 14, 407 AD. His last words were "Glory be to God for all things." His holy relics were brought from 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 Chrysostomos ("Golden-mouth") because of his eloquence. He made exhaustive commentaries on the Divine Scripture and was the author of more works than any other Church Father, leaving us complete commentaries on the Book of Genesis of the Old Testament, the Gospels of Saints Matthew and John, the Acts, and all the Epistles of Saint Paul. His extant works are 1, 447 sermons and 240 epistles. Twenty-two teachers of the Church have written homilies of praise in his honor. Besides his feasts today and on January 27, he is celebrated as one of Three Hierarchs on January 30th, together with Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian.
(It should be noted that, because September 14th is the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Saint's memory has been transferred to this day.)
The Saint's zeal in spreading the Christian Faith extended not only to the inhabitants of Constantinople, but also Thrace to include Slavs and Goths, and to Asia Minor and the Pontine region. He established a bishop for the Bosphorus Church in the Crimea. Saint John sent off zealous missionaries to Phoenicia, to Persia, and to the Scythians, to convert pagans to Christ. The Saint exerted much effort in enhancing the splendor of the Church services: he compiled the Divine Liturgy as we have it today, he introduced antiphonal singing for the all-night Vigil, and he wrote several prayers for the rite of anointing the sick with oil.
The saintly Hierarch denounced the dissolute morals of people in the capital. In his pastoral zeal to provide Christians with a better understanding of Holy Scripture, Saint John employed hermeneutics, and interpretation and analysis of the Word of God (i.e., exegesis"). Among his exegetical works are commentaries on entire books of the Holy Scripture but also many homilies on individual texts of the Holy Bible, and instructions on the Feastdays, laudations on the Saints, and also apologetic (i.e., defensive) homilies (against Anomoeans, Judaizers and pagans). As a priest, Saint John zealously fulfilled the Lord's command to care for the needy. Under Saint John, the Antiochian Church provided sustenance each day to as many as 3,000 virgins and widows, not including in this number the shut-ins, wanderers and the sick.
FROM THE GREAT Vespers STICHERA HYMNS
Let us praise with sweet melodies John, the trumpet of shining gold; that celestial mind, that support of all the Church; the depth of wisdom, the boundless sea of doctrines, the God-inspired and fair-sounding instrument; and the wine-bowl wrought all of gold, which doth pour abroad mighty rivers of honey-flowing teachings that have watered all creation with inexhaustible eloquence.
Let that Angel which dwelt on earth and the man of celestial life worthily be honored and magnified in hymns; the rock unbroken, the treasury of virtues, the many-toned swallow singing tunefully; the example to faithful men, all the Martyr's peer, and the equal of Heaven's holy Angels, who was
one with the Apostles in way of life, even Chrysostom.
Adorned with thy golden words as with a golden ornament, the Church rejoiceth like a bride, O John Chrysostom, and she crieth to thee: I am filled with thy waters that overflow with gold, I am made resplendent with thy golden-sparkling honey-golden draughts, for I am led from activity to divine vision by thy gentle admonitions, and I am united to Christ, the spiritual Bridegroom, and reign together with Him. Wherefore, as we gather together on thy memorial, we also cry: Weary not of entreating the Lord for us, that our souls be saved.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory be to God for all things!" (Saint John Chrysostomos)
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God