My beloved spiritual children 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.
THE THIRTEENTH DAY OF THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER--The Life of Our Father
Among the Saints, John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople
[Compiled from the writings of George, the Bishop of Alexandria; the Emperor Leo the Wise, Metaphrastes; Nicephorus; Socrates Scholasticus; and other historians worthy of credence.]
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 in Syria. His parents were unbelievers and held to the impiety of the Greeks. His father, who was an officer, was named Secundus and his mother Anthusa, and they were persons of wealth and repute.
When John reached the proper age, he was entrusted to the sophist Libanius and the philosopher Andragraphius, who instructed him in the learning of the Greeks. 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. John was baptized by the Most Holy Patriarch Meletius, who was at that time pastor of the Church of Antioch. Not long thereafter, it pleased God the Most Good to illumine 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, John's mother, a very young widow. She was little more than twenty years old when her husband died.
When John reached the age of eighteen, he went to Athens, and within a short time surpassed his fellow-students and many of the philosophers there in knowledge. He studied all the teachings and the texts of the schools there and himself became a noted philosopher and eloquent orator.
John had in Athens a malicious opponent, a philosopher name Anthimius, who was jealous of the high regard in which the saint was held. Anthimius began to slander the blessed one, but John's wise and divinely inspired words put him to shame before all. Moreover, John led Anthimius and many others to Christ in the following manner. While Anthimius was disputing with John, he began to blaspheme our Lord Jesus Christ. Suddenly an unclean spirit (demon) gained power over him and began to torment him. Anthimius fell to the ground, beside himself and foam seething from his open mouth. The onlookers were overcome by fear, and many fled. Those who remained begged John to have mercy on the possessed man and to heal him, but John replied, "If he does not repent and believe in Christ God, Whom he blasphemed, he cannot be healed."
Anthimius straightway cried out, "I confess that there is no God either in heaven or on earth other than the God of the Christians, in Whom the wise John believes."
When he had said this, the unclean spirit came forth, and Anthimius stood upon his own feet, restored to health. All the people who beheld this miracle cried, "Great is the God of the Christians, Who alone works wonders."
Saint John wished to enter a Monastery immediately and to become a monk but was held back by his mother Anthusa. 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...After you have buried me alongside the bones of your father, you may do as you wish. But remain with me now for a short time while I am still alive!" And thus she persuaded him not to forsake her.
At that time, Zeno, the Archbishop of Jerusalem, happened to be in Antioch, and tonsured John a Reader. He remained in that rank for three years. Then John's mother died, and after burying her, he gave away all his possessions to those who were in need, freeing his servants and bidding farewell to this 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 (a most profitable work), and An Epistle to the Fallen Monk Theodore.
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 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 at prayer. One of them held a scroll covered with writing, and the other held keys. When 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.
John asked them, "Who are you, my lords?"
They said to him, "Do not fear, O man of lofty desires, O new Daniel, in whom the Holy Spirit has deigned to make His abode, on account of your purity of heart. We have been sent to you by the Great Teacher, Our Savior Jesus Christ."
The first of the two men stretched forth his hand and gave 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 (Last) 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 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 has 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 (Satan). 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 as adamant, for thus you shall inherit the Kingdom of God."
So saying, the Apostles made the sign of the Cross over John, gave him a kiss in the Lord, and departed.
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God