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Saint John Chrysostom, Light of the East, Nov. 13th

Saturday, November 13, 2004

+JMJPT+ We need to remember our brothers and sisters in the east who on this day (Nov. 13th) remember and honor a great Saint of God St. John Chrysostom. We unite our prayers east or west to the Glory of God whom we all love and serve.
* Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (+ 407)

* Martyrs Antoninus, Nicephorus, Germanus and Zevina of Caesarea in Palestine (+ 308)
* Martyr Manetha of Caesarea in Palestine (+ c. 307-308)
* Monkmartyr Damascinos of the Lavra on Mt Athos (+ 1681)
* Saint Megasius the Bishop
* Monkmartyr Damian of the Lavra on Mt Athos

Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, one of the Three Hierarchs [January 30], was born at Antioch in about the year 347 into the family of a military-commander. His father, Secundus, died soon after the birth of his son. His mother, Anthusa, widowed at twenty years of age, did not seek to remarry but rather devoted all her efforts to the raising of her son in Christian piety. The youth studied under the finest philosophers and rhetoricians. But, scorning the vain disciplines of pagan knowledge, the future hierarch turned himself to the profound study of Holy Scripture and prayerful contemplation. St. Meletios, Bishop of Antioch (February 12), loved John like a son, guided him in the Faith, and in the year 367 baptized him.

After three years John was made a church reader. Later on, when St. Meletios had been sent off into exile by the emperor Valens in the year 372, John and Theodore (afterwards Bishop of Mopsuestia) studied under the experienced instructors of ascetic life, the presbyters Flavian and Diodoros of Tarsus. The highly refined Diodoros had particular influence upon the youth. When John's mother died, he accepted monasticism, which he called the "true philosophy." Soon John and his friend Basil were being considered as candidates for the episcopal office, and the friends decided to withdraw into the wilderness to avoid this. But St. John, while evading the episcopal rank out of humility, secretly assisted in Basil's consecration.

During this period St. John wrote his "Six Discourses on the Priesthood", a great work of Orthodox pastoral theology. The saint spent four years in the toils of wilderness life, living the ascetic life under the guidance of an experienced spiritual guide. And here he wrote three books entitled, "Against the Opponents of Those Attracted to the Monastic Life", and a collection entitled, "A Comparison of the Monk with the Emperor" (also known as "Comparison of Imperial Power, Wealth and Eminence, with the True and Christian Wisdom-Loving Monastic Life"), both works which are marked by a profound reflection of the worthiness of the monastic vocation.

For two years, the saint lived in a solitary cave in complete silence. But the saint was obliged to return to Antioch to recover his health. In the year 381 St. Meletios, the Bishop of Antioch, ordained him deacon. The years following were devoted to work on new theological writings: "Concerning Providence" ("To the Ascetic Stagirios"), "Book Concerning Virginity," "To a Young Widow" (2 discourses), and the "Book of St. Babylos and Against Julian and the Pagans."

In the year 386 St. John was ordained presbyter by Bishop Flavian of Antioch. St. John was a splendid preacher, and for his rare talent with God-inspired words he received from his flock the title, the "Golden-Mouthed" ("Chrysostomos"). For twelve years the saint preached in church, usually twice a week, but sometimes daily, deeply stirring the hearts of his listeners.

In his pastoral zeal to provide Christians with a better understanding of Holy Scripture, St. John employed hermeneutics, an interpretation and analysis of the Word of God (i.e. exegesis"). Among his exegetical works are commentaries on entire books of the Holy Scripture (Genesis, the Psalter, the Gospels of Matthew and John, the Epistles of the Apostle Paul), and also many homilies on individual texts of the Holy Bible, but also instructions on the Feastdays, laudations on the Saints, and also apologetic (i.e. defensive) homilies (against Anomoeans, Judaizers and pagans). St. John as presbyter zealously fulfilled the command of caring for the needy. Under St. 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.

At the beginning of Great Lent in 388 the saint began his commentary on the Book of Genesis. Over the forty-day period he preached 32 homilies. During Passion week he spoke about the Betrayal and about the Cross, and during the Paschal Bright Week his parishioners were daily instructed by his pastoral discourse. His exegesis on the Book of Genesis was concluded only at the end of October (388). At Pascha in the following year the saint began his examination of the Gospel of John, and towards the end of the year 389 he took up the Gospel of Matthew. In the year 391 the Antioch Christians listened to his commentary on the Epistles of the holy Apostle Paul to the Romans and to the Corinthians. In 393 he addressed the Epistles to the Galatians, the Ephesians, Timothy, Titus and the Psalms. In his homily on the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. John denounced a schism in Antioch, "I tell you and I witness before you, that to tear asunder the Church means nothing less than to fall into heresy. The Church is the house of the Heavenly Father, One Body and One Spirit."

The fame of the holy preacher grew, and in the year 397 with the death of Archbishop Nektarios of Constantinople, successor to St. Gregory the Theologian, St. John Chrysostom was summoned from Antioch, and elected to the Constantinople throne. At the capital, the holy archpastor was not able to preach as often as he had at Antioch. Many matters awaited the saint's attention, and he began with the most important -- with the spiritual perfection of the priesthood. He himself was the best example of this. The financial means apportioned for the archbishop were channelled by the saint into the upkeep of several hospices for the sick and two hostels for pilgrims. The archpastor fasted strictly and ate very little food, and he refused invitations to meals because of his delicate stomach.

The saint's zeal in spreading the Christian Faith extended not only to the inhabitants of Constantinople, but also to 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. St. John sent off zealous missionaries to Phoenicia, to Persia, and to the Scythians, to convert pagans to Christ. He also wrote letters to Syria to bring back the Marcionites into the Church, and he accomplished this. Preserving the unity of the Church, the saint would not permit a powerful Gothic military commander, who wanted the emperor to reward his bravery in battle, to open an Arian church at Constantinople. The saint exerted much effort in enhancing the splendor of the church services: he compiled a Liturgy, 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, especially at the imperial court, irrespective of person. When the empress Eudoxia connived to confiscate the last properties of the widow and children of a disgraced dignitary, the saint rose to their defense. The arrogant empress did not concede and nursed a grudge against the archpastor. The hatred of Eudoxia against the saint blazed forth anew when malefactors told her that apparently the saint had her particularly in mind in his sermon on women of vanity. A court was convened composed of hierarchs, who earlier had been justly condemned by Chrysostom: Theophilos of Alexandria, Bishop Severian of Gabala , who shortly before had been banished from the capital because of improprieties, and others.

This court of judgement declared St. John deposed, and that he be executed for his insult to the empress. The emperor decided on exile instead of execution. An angry crowd surged at the church, resolved to defend their pastor. The saint, in order to avoid a riot, gave himself into the hands of the authorities. That very night at Constantinople there was an earthquake. The terrified Eudoxia urgently requested the emperor to bring the saint back, and promptly sent a letter to the banished pastor, beseeching him to return. Once more, in the capital church, the saint praised the Lordin a short talk, "For All His Ways".

The slanderers fled to Alexandria. But after only two months a new denunciation provoked the wrath of Eudoxia. In March of the year 404 an unjust Council gathered, decreeing the exile of St. John. Upon his removal from the capital, a fire reduced the temple of Hagia Sophia to ashes and also the Senate building. Devastating barbarian incursions soon followed, and in October 404 Eudoxia died. Even pagans saw in these events heavenly chastisement for the unjust judgement against the saint of God.

In Armenia, the saint strove all the more to encourage his spiritual children. In numerous letters (245 are preserved) to bishops in Asia, Africa, Europe and particularly to his friends in Constantinople, St. John consoled the suffering, guiding and giving support to his followers. In the winter of 406 St. John was confined to his bed with sickness, but his enemies were not to be appeased. From the capital came orders to transfer St. John to desolate Pitius in Abkhazia. Worn out by sickness, under military escort for three months in the rain and frost, the saint made his final journey. At Comana, his powers failed him.

At the crypt of St. Basiliskos (May 22), comforted by a vision of the martyr ("Despair not, brother John! Tomorrow we shall be together"), and having received the Holy Mysteries, the hierarch fell asleep in the Lord on September 14, 407 with the words, "Glory to God for all things!" The holy relics of St. John Chrysostom were solemnly transferred to Constantinople in the year 438. The disciple of St. John, the venerable Isidore Pelusium (February 4), wrote: "The house of David is grown strong, and the house of Saul enfeebled. He is victor over the storms of life, and is entered into Heavenly repose."

The memory of St. John Chrysostom is also celebrated on January 27 and January 30 . Posted by Hello
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