John was born in Antioch in the year 354 A.D., of his father, Commander Secundus, and his mother Anthusa. Studying Greek philosophy, John became disgusted with Hellenic paganism and adopted the Christian Faith as the one and all- embracing truth. Meletius, Patriarch of Antioch, baptized John and, after that, his parents also received baptism. Following the death of his parents, John was tonsured a monk and began to live a strict life of asceticism. He then wrote a book "On the Priesthood" after which the holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him, prophesying for him, great service, great grace, but also great suffering. When he was to be ordained a priest, an angel of God appeared at the same time to Patriarch Flavian (successor to Meletius) and to John himself. While the patriarch was laying his hands on John [ordaining him], they all saw a shining white dove over John's head. Glorified because of his wisdom, asceticism and power of words, John was chosen, at the desire of Emperor Arcadius, as Patriarch of Constantinople. As patriarch, he governed the Church for six years with unequalled zeal and wisdom. He sent missionaries to the pagan Celts and Scythians; eradicated simony in the Church, deposing many bishops - the simonists; he extended the charitable works of the Church; he wrote a special order of the Divine Liturgy; shamed the heretics; denounced Empress Eudoxia; interpreted Holy Scriptures with his golden mind and tongue and bequeathed the Church many precious books of his homilies. The people glorified him, the envious loathed him and the Empress, on two occasions, sent him into exile. John spent three years in exile and died on the Feast of the Elevation of the Venerable and Holy Cross, September 14, 407 A.D. in the town of Comana in Armenia. Before his death, the holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him again, as did the Holy Martyr Basiliscus (May 22) in whose church he received Communion for the last time. His last words were: "GLORY BE TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS" and with these words, the soul of the golden mouth patriarch was taken into Paradise. Of Chrysostom's relics, his head reposes in the church of the Dormition in Moscow and his body reposes in the Vatican in Rome.
The first three, at one time, saw how the pagans were worshipping idols at one of their feasts with shouts and dancing and, unafraid, they came before the crowd and began to preach one God in Trinity. Firmilian, the governor of Palestian Caesarea, where this occurred, was so enraged at the action of these three Christians that he immediately ordered them to be beheaded. Manetha was a Christian maiden. She followed the martyrs as they were being led to the place of execution and she too was seized and after cruel tortures was burned to death. They all suffered in the year 308 A.D. and entered into the eternal joy of the eternal God.
Damascene was born in Galata in Constantinople and at first was called Diamantis. In his youth, he lived immorally and even became a Muslim. Then a bitter repentance ensued in him and he went to the Holy Mountain [Athos] where, as a monk, he lived a life of strict asceticism for twelve years in the Lavra of St. Athanasius. Desirous for martyrdom for the cleansing of his sins, Damascene traveled to Constantinople and began to visit the mosques, making the sign of the Cross and shouting to the Turks how their faith was false and that Jesus Christ is God and Lord. He was beheaded before the gate of Phanar on November 13, 1681 A.D. His relics repose on Halki in the monastery of the Holy Trinity.
SAINT JOHN CHRYSOSTOM [THE GOLDEN-MOUTH],
The Church, Saint John, glorifies,
The Golden-mouth, by God gifted,
Christ's great soldier,
Who, to the Church is both pride and beauty.
Profound of heart and of mind,
And, in words, a golden-stringed harp.
Into the depth of mysteries, he sinks,
And caught the pearl, as shining as the star;
To the heights of the heavens, he raised himself,
And the divine truth, expounds;
At the length of history, he looked,
All, to the Son of God, he gives,
The horrors of sins, to us he revealed,
And virtues, that adorn man;
The dearest mysteries, showed to us,
And all the sweetness of enchanting Paradise.
Evangelist, interpreter of the Gospel,
And bearer of spiritual joy,
As an Apostle, eager for Christ,
Neither with any kind of injustice, did he agree;
As a Martyr, tortures he received,
Torturing, the guarantee of salvation is -
The Servant of Christ, showed himself true,
Therefore, the Church, the Golden-mouth glorifies.
Punishment and reward! Both of these are in the hands of God. But, as this earthly life is only a shadow of the true life in the heavens, so punishment and reward here on earth is only a shadow of true punishment and reward in eternity. The principle persecutors of Chrysostom, the saint of God, were Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria and Empress Eudoxia. After Chrysostom's death by martyrdom, bitter punishment befell them both, namely, Theophilus went mad and Empress Eudoxia was banished from the imperial court by Emperor Arcadius. Eudoxia soon became ill with an incurable disease and wounds opened all over her body and worms spilled out from her wounds. Such was the stench that emanated from her that it was not easy for a person on the street to even pass by her house. Physicians used all the best scents and aromas, even incense, as much as possible to wipe out the odor from the wicked empress, but succeeded very little and the empress finally died in stench and agony. Even after death, the hand of God lay heavy on her. Her coffin, with her body, shook day and night for a full thirty-four years until Emperor Theodosius translated the relics of St. Chrysostom to Constantinople. But what happened to Chrysostom after death? Reward - reward, such as only God can give. Adelphius, the Arab bishop, who received the exiled Chrysostom into his home in Cucusus, prayed to God after Chrysostom' death that He reveal to him where John's soul was to be found. Once, while at prayer, Adelphius, as though outside himself, saw a shining youth who led him throughout the heavens and showed him in order the hierarchs, pastors and teachers of the Church, calling each of them by name but he did not see John. Then the angel of God led him to the exit of Paradise and Adelphius was sad. When the angel asked him the reason for his sadness, Adelphius replied that he was sorry that he had not seen his beloved teacher, John Chrysostom. The angel replied: "No man who is still in the flesh can see him for he is at God's throne with the Cherubim and Seraphim."
To contemplate the wondrous creation of the world (Genesis 1):
About the foundation and the cornerstone
"having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20).
Brethren, the foundation of the apostles and prophets is the life and work of the apostles and the prophets, i.e., the Old and the New Testaments. Who unites the apostles and the prophets? Christ the Lord. Without Him, neither would the prophets understand the apostles nor the apostles understand the prophets. Therefore, He is the fulfillment of the prophets and witness of the apostles. Thus, He is the Cornerstone, which tied the prophets and the apostles and holds them together as a cornerstone holds the walls together. The entire Old and New Testaments are united in Him, find meaning in Him, revolve around Him, inspired by Him and upheld by Him - the Lord Jesus Christ. Where would the pagans and Jews meet and where would they understand one anther if not in Jesus Christ the Lord? Nowhere, except in Him. In Him and through Him they are united in one New Man, in one immortal body, in One, Holy and Catholic Church. The body and the soul are united in a greater and holier friendship only through the Lord Jesus. The bonds of the soul and body were at enmity until His coming in the flesh and that enmity led to the destruction of the soul. He reconciled and sanctified them both. Thus, He became the Cornerstone of every immortal and god-pleasing building, be it in regard to an individual man or family or nation or the entire race of man, either the present, or the past or the future or of either the Old Covenant or the New Covenant. He is the Chief stone in every building as He is the Head of the Body, God's Church.
O, Lord Jesus Christ, our Stone of salvation, have mercy on us and save us.
With prayers in memory of Nikola Maruta
on the anniversary of his repose (+1989)
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.