OrthoCelt

Thu Aug 18, 2016

Let's Be Thankful To God!

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. - Abraham Lincoln in 1863

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Aug 18, 16 | 12:25 pm | Profile

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Afternoon Thoughts . . .

There's no disappointment in Heaven,
No weariness, sorrow or pain,
No hearts that are bleeding and broken,
No song with a minor refrain.
The clouds of our earthly horizon will never appear in the sky,
For all will be sunshine and gladness,
With never a sob or a sigh.

- F.M. Lehman

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Aug 18, 16 | 11:54 am | Profile

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A Prayer for Church Choirs

Invocation Prayer for Choir Concert on August 16, 2016

Fr. Gus G. Christo, Chaplain II

Gracious and loving God:

Our souls are filled with the power and joy of your song of Creation.

Our hearts dance to the beat of your rhythm as we raise our voices in response to your call.

Wrapped in the arms of your sustaining and eternal Love, these people offer to you their gift of music.

In the presence of your Holy Spirit, hearts are stilled to hear, minds are stirred to action, lives may be transformed.

We pray that all who listen will hear with understanding, and open themselves to feel your presence through the joy in their voices and the passion in their hearts.

We pray that all who listen to your servants will feel their spirits touched by the wonder of your mystery, and add their own voices to the joyful noise.

May we ourselves continue to be uplifted in knowing that singing Godly hymns touches and uplifts many others in our faith community.

May we cast off the burden of impossible perfection, and let our souls soar on the wings of heavenly music.

May we sing always with hearts open to your presence and your power.

Hallelujah and Amen!

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Aug 18, 16 | 5:40 am | Profile

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Sat Jun 11, 2016

The Importance of Prayer in Daily Living

By

Fr. Gus G. Christo, Ph.D., Chaplain II


“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day” (Abraham Lincoln).

All of the virtues and powers of God are attained primarily by prayer. Without prayer, there is no spiritual life. As the Russian bishop, Theophan the Recluse, has said, “If you are not successful in your prayer, you will not be successful in anything, for prayer is the root of everything” (Theophan the Recluse, 19th c., The Art of Prayer, Igumen Chariton, ed.).

Prayer is talking with God. Prayer fosters our transformation in grace. We pray when we open our heart to the Almighty. Prayer is a deterrent to sin in our lives. In the quiet times of private, honest prayer God exposes the rationalizations and the excuses that we use to cater to sin. In prayer God holds a mirror up to our lives so we can see the way we really are and repent. Prayer is the most powerful tool in perpetuating our communication with God. “You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows” (Job 22:27). “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The Lord “will respond to the prayer of the destitute. He will not despise their plea” (Psalm 102:17). “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

"He who is able to pray correctly, even if he is the poorest of all people, is essentially the richest. And he who does not have proper prayer, is the poorest of all, even if he sits on a royal throne" (St John Chrysostom). Prayer is the elevation of the mind and heart to God in praise, in thanksgiving, and in petition for the spiritual and material goods we need. The Lord commanded us to enter into our inner room and there pray to God the Father in secret. This inner room means the heart, the core of our being. The Apostle Paul adds to this by saying that we must always pray in our spirit. He commands prayer from everybody without exception and asks for it to be unceasing.

The acceptable prayer to God is the one offered up from a thankful soul; if we are steadfast in it, so that whether we receive or do not receive what we pray for, we at all times give thanks to God. Sometimes he will grant what we ask and sometimes he will not. In both cases it is to our gain. Whether we receive or do not receive the answer to our prayer, we have received in not receiving. Many times it is more profitable for us not to obtain what we pray for. Unless what we ask is expedient for us, it will certainly not be granted to us. It is equally a gain to obtain our request and not to obtain it. Often times God will delay in answering our prayer so we may learn to persevere in prayer and draw us nearer to himself. Our prayers will be heard by God when they come from one who is worthy of receiving. They should be made according to God’s laws, earnest, unceasing, and not in a worldly manner. Our prayers must only address what is fitting for our salvation.

Prayer must be crisp and to the point. The one who prays should not strain after long prayers, but should pray often. Both Jesus and St. Paul teach us to use short but often repeated prayers, at frequent intervals. Real prayer springs up from the bottom of the heart. Just as trees with the deepest roots are not broken or uprooted by a violent storm, so too, prayers, that come from the depths of the heart, rooted there, ascend to heaven with confidence. They are not turned aside under attack from any distracting thought at all. That is why Psalm 129:1 says, “Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord.”

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart” (Mahatma Gandhi). “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays” (Søren Kierkegaard). “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts” (Mother Teresa).

Communal prayer is the most powerful prayer of all. The sinewy strength of such a prayer and the confidence that God will hear it is far greater than the prayer we offer privately. The Apostle Paul says: “He rescued us from the danger of death and continues to rescue us. We have hoped that he will never cease to deliver us if you all join in helping us by prayer in our behalf, so that God may be thanked for the gift granted us through the prayers of many people” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11). It was by this means, too, that St. Peter escaped from prison. “The Church prayed fervently to God on his behalf” (Acts 12:5).

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life” (Francis of Assisi).

I THOUGHT THAT THIS ARTICLE WAS SO IMPORTANT, I ENTERED IT TWICE!!!

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Jun 11, 16 | 12:11 pm | Profile

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Fri Jun 10, 2016

The Importance of Prayer in Daily Living

By

Fr. Gus G. Christo, Ph.D., Chaplain II


“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day” (Abraham Lincoln).

All of the virtues and powers of God are attained primarily by prayer. Without prayer, there is no spiritual life. As the Russian bishop, Theophan the Recluse, has said, “If you are not successful in your prayer, you will not be successful in anything, for prayer is the root of everything” (Theophan the Recluse, 19th c., The Art of Prayer, Igumen Chariton, ed.).

Prayer is talking with God. Prayer fosters our transformation in grace. We pray when we open our heart to the Almighty. Prayer is a deterrent to sin in our lives. In the quiet times of private, honest prayer God exposes the rationalizations and the excuses that we use to cater to sin. In prayer God holds a mirror up to our lives so we can see the way we really are and repent. Prayer is the most powerful tool in perpetuating our communication with God. “You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows” (Job 22:27). “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). The Lord “will respond to the prayer of the destitute. He will not despise their plea” (Psalm 102:17). “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

"He who is able to pray correctly, even if he is the poorest of all people, is essentially the richest. And he who does not have proper prayer, is the poorest of all, even if he sits on a royal throne" (St John Chrysostom). Prayer is the elevation of the mind and heart to God in praise, in thanksgiving, and in petition for the spiritual and material goods we need. The Lord commanded us to enter into our inner room and there pray to God the Father in secret. This inner room means the heart, the core of our being. The Apostle Paul adds to this by saying that we must always pray in our spirit. He commands prayer from everybody without exception and asks for it to be unceasing.

The acceptable prayer to God is the one offered up from a thankful soul; if we are steadfast in it, so that whether we receive or do not receive what we pray for, we at all times give thanks to God. Sometimes he will grant what we ask and sometimes he will not. In both cases it is to our gain. Whether we receive or do not receive the answer to our prayer, we have received in not receiving. Many times it is more profitable for us not to obtain what we pray for. Unless what we ask is expedient for us, it will certainly not be granted to us. It is equally a gain to obtain our request and not to obtain it. Often times God will delay in answering our prayer so we may learn to persevere in prayer and draw us nearer to himself. Our prayers will be heard by God when they come from one who is worthy of receiving. They should be made according to God’s laws, earnest, unceasing, and not in a worldly manner. Our prayers must only address what is fitting for our salvation.

Prayer must be crisp and to the point. The one who prays should not strain after long prayers, but should pray often. Both Jesus and St. Paul teach us to use short but often repeated prayers, at frequent intervals. Real prayer springs up from the bottom of the heart. Just as trees with the deepest roots are not broken or uprooted by a violent storm, so too, prayers, that come from the depths of the heart, rooted there, ascend to heaven with confidence. They are not turned aside under attack from any distracting thought at all. That is why Psalm 129:1 says, “Out of the depths I have cried to you, O Lord.”

“Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart” (Mahatma Gandhi). “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays”
(Søren Kierkegaard). “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts” (Mother Teresa).

Communal prayer is the most powerful prayer of all. The sinewy strength of such a prayer and the confidence that God will hear it is far greater than the prayer we offer privately. The Apostle Paul says: “He rescued us from the danger of death and continues to rescue us. We have hoped that he will never cease to deliver us if you all join in helping us by prayer in our behalf, so that God may be thanked for the gift granted us through the prayers of many people” (2 Corinthians 1:10-11). It was by this means, too, that St. Peter escaped from prison. “The Church prayed fervently to God on his behalf” (Acts 12:5).

“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life” (Francis of Assisi).

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Jun 10, 16 | 4:25 pm | Profile

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Sat Apr 30, 2016

Sermon on the Holy and Life-giving Resurrection of our Lord, Great God, and Savior Jesus Christ by Rev. Fr. Gus G. christo



Tonight, through the very veil of his flesh, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, mystically leads human nature once and for all into the Holy of Holies – heaven itself – and places it at the right hand of God the Father. Tonight, we celebrate Christ’s victory over eternal death and the devil – the archetype of all evil. Christ is the sacred Pascha and Passover from the abyss to the unwaning light of the glory of the Father by the power of the Life-giving Spirit. Tonight our hearts, lips, and the fabric of our being resound with the hymn of victory: “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling upon death by death, and bestowing life to those in the tombs.” Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Christ’s body, being of his flesh and bones, according to Ephesians 5:28-30, is comprised of many members. Just as Eve is created out of the side of Adam, likewise, the Church – the new Eve – is put together from the side of Christ – the new Adam – as it is testified in Genesis 2:21 (“from his flesh and from his bones”) and John 19:34 (“but one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water”). The Church is constituted from the blood and water that flowed from Christ’s side on the Cross, as Christ himself declares: “Unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” The Apostle Paul calls Christ “the image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15), in order to designate his eternal generation by the Father; and, on the other hand, “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead” (v. 18), in order to illustrate Christ’s first place in the Church. Christ is: “the head of the body, the Church” (v. 18), “first in the Church, first in the Resurrection, first in the later generation, first of the Church, first of men after the flesh, the first fruits of creation, and the first fruits of the Resurrection.” The very body which the Son of God united to himself at the Incarnation – the Church – includes the whole human race, and is indissolubly united to the person of the Son of God. Apart from him, the Church cannot be understood.
The Church – Christ himself – is the second Adam, a leader of a new race, and his body is that race – a new creation. The actual body or flesh assumed by the Son of God is the vehicle through which reconciliation between God and humanity has been achieved. In order to effect this, Christ’s body was not merely beaten and scourged, but it even died a most shameful death on the Cross. The Son allowed his body to die upon the Cross in order to present all human beings holy, without blemish, and unreprovable before him in heaven. The body consists of the approved, the sinless and the righteous – the Christians – all of whom receive the holiness which is before Christ through this same body, and who are reconciled and knitted in it by Christ himself.
St. John Chrysostom beckons us: “If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival…If anyone has wearied himself in fasting, let him now receive his recompense…If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let him not fear on account of his delay. For the Master is gracious and receives the last, even as the first…He both honors the work and praises the intention…Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward…The table is richly-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry! Let all partake of the feast of faith…Let no one mourn his transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free…Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the tomb! For, Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that slept. To him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.”
Let us love one another as Christ teaches us and approach his life-giving Resurrection with a change of will, so we, too, may become children of the unwaning Light and citizens of the heavenly Kingdom unto all eternity. For to Christ, the eternal and Only-Begotten Son of God, belongs all the glory, honor, power, and dominion, together with his Father and his All-Holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit, both now and always, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
Jesus having risen from the grave as He foretold, He bestowed to us eternal life and abundant mercy. To Him belongs all the glory and the dominion unto the ages of ages!
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Apr 30, 16 | 3:47 pm | Profile

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Tue Apr 12, 2016

Have a Good Resurrection!

The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 16, describes the Lord’s Resurrection: “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, ‘Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?’ But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were afraid. But he said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.’ So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:1-8 NKJV).

The verse, “He is risen,” became the foundation of the earliest hymn praising the Resurrection of Christ: “Christ is risen from the dead, by death trampling down upon death, and to those in the tombs He has granted life.”

“Let us enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival…[Let us] enter, rejoicing, into the joy of [our] Lord…[Let us]…partake of the banquet of faith. [Let us]…enjoy the wealth of goodness…Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life rules. Christ is risen, and not one is to be found dead in the tomb…To Him be the glory and the power to the ages of ages. Amen.”

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Apr 12, 16 | 7:27 am | Profile

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Paschal / Easter Thoughts for 2016

We live in a world that is not quick to believe. It has many pursuits which occupy its thoughts and time, preoccupations that do not lend themselves to belief in God, let alone in the resurrection of Jesus and eternal life. The Scriptures identify many of these pursuits which keep people locked into this world in a way that destroys true freedom, defeats growth in virtue and blinds one to eternity: the relentless pursuit of pleasure, the inordinate love of money which leads to greed and corruption, and the never ending quest for fame, power and importance.

Jesus says that we do not belong to this world. Yet we know very well that we are flesh and blood. We know what our experiences of life are. How can we not belong to the world of which we are so much a part? To not belong to the world means to have a firm conviction about the journey we are on. My parents used to say when they saw someone get away with an injustice, “that person is not dead yet.” This was a sincere conviction that there was something more, something transcendent to the human life we currently experience. There is something above and beyond. The Scriptures teach us that what is corruptible will become incorruptible; what is mortal will become immortal. Jesus in His resurrection has overcome death. The Risen Lord is our pledge of eternal life, the great promise of future resurrection and life, reigning with Christ in the glory of the Father.

The conviction of faith and the joy of Easter offers in place of pleasure the inner peace of a good conscience. The conviction of faith and the joy of Easter offers in place of money a treasure of good works and grace stored up in heaven. The conviction of faith and the joy of Easter offers in place of fame a genuine sense of one’s own worth as a child of God, created in the image of God and redeemed by the love of Jesus Christ. The Lord is risen. We have faith in God and in Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord!


Posted by: Fr. Costa on Apr 12, 16 | 7:25 am | Profile

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Mon Mar 14, 2016

Have a Blessed and Holy Great Lenten Season 2016

"It is our repentance that God desires, not our remorse. We sorrow for our sins, but we do so in the joy of God’s mercy. We mortify our flesh, but we do so in the joy of our resurrection into life everlasting. We make ready for the resurrection during Great Lent, both Christ’s Resurrection and our own." [OCA]

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Mar 14, 16 | 3:39 pm | Profile

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Fri Mar 04, 2016

Accoding to Holy Scripture, ......

The Lord says, "See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:16).

The psalmist wrote, "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4).

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10).

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him" (Nahum 1:7).

The psalmist wrote, "I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1-2).

"[Give] joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light" (Colossians 1:12).

"Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow" (Isaiah 1:17).

"Love your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27).

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful" (Colossians 4:2).

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

The psalmist wrote, "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God" (Psalm 43:5).

"What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8)?

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Mar 04, 16 | 6:17 am | Profile

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Thu Feb 25, 2016

St. John Chrysostom

"If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice."

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Feb 25, 16 | 5:02 pm | Profile

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Thu Jan 28, 2016

St. John Chrysostom: Rejoicing in Suffering and Giving Glory to God By Cardinal Newman

Christian life entails suffering, sometimes great suffering, and the response distinguishes a Christian from others: in the midst of hardship and even persecution he forgives and gives praise to God. Our saint was banished a second time from Constantinople, on this occasion to Caucasus[1], on the eastern slope of the Taurus, a mountain range in the south of modern day Turkey.[2]

He was led there by two soldiers who treated him well, but at the time of year in which he traveled the heat and dryness of the land made it a very difficult journey, one which would have been relatively easy on a government conveyance. Instead he traveled on a mule drawn cart. They passed the majestic Nicaea and traveled through the corn country of Phrygia to the city of Ancyra. On reaching this city they found devastation from Isaurian invaders[3] and traveled day and night for 200 miles to Caesarea, the capital of Cappadocia.

They faced much hardship including minimal supplies of food and drinking water. As a result Chrysostom fell sick with a recurring fever. Newman noted: “In spite of the indescribable confusion of the populations through which he passed, Christian zeal and charity did not allow their personal sufferings to interfere with the homage and interest due from them to the presence of so illustrious a confessor. They poured out upon his line of road to greet him and condole with him.” He wrote to Olympias about the love the people who, “broken with sorrow,” went out to the roads to see him. The saint remarked that if such was their sorrow how much more must be hers, yet he advised her: “Beware of surrendering yourself to the tyranny of sorrow.”

From Caesarea, where physicians treated him and his health recovered, he wrote to Olympias, a close friend and grand-child of one of Constantine’s ministers, complaining of not having received letters from her or other friends from Constantinople (the brother of a bishop had just arrived in Caesarea from Constantinople without any letters). Still, in the same letter he summed up his spiritual disposition: “Glory be to God for all things. I will never cease saying this, whatever befalls me.”

To another friend by the name of Theodora he complained that his wealthy friends did not do anything to make his exile closer to home and a better one, and of their silence. He wrote to her: “I am astonished at you,” he says; “this is the fourth, if not the fifth, letter I have sent you; and you have sent me but one. It pains me much to think that you have so soon forgotten me.” But as Newman explained some of these friends such as Tigrius had suffered torture and martyrdom in the meantime.

St. John looked forward to peace at Caesarea and, although Pharetrius, its bishop, made pretensions of friendship, moved by jealousy of the people’s admiration for Chrysostom, Pharetrius soon forced him to leave. At a moment when the Isaurians were threatening the city a mob composed of monks surrounded the house where Chrysostom stayed and compelled him to leave the city. Newman explained: “There was a vast number of fanatical monks at that day, whom the Church did not recognise, and who were exposed to the influence of any wild calumnies or absurd tales which might be circulated to the prejudice of Chrysostom.”

Recalling the suffering and peril endured in his escape and travel from Caesarea to Caucasus, Chrysostom wrote: “Who can describe the other troubles which befell me on my journey—the alarms, the risks? I think of them every day, and always carry them about with me; and am transported with joy, and my heart leaps to think of the great treasure I have laid up. Do you rejoice also over it, and give glory to God, who has honoured me with these sufferings.”

He felt the need to tell his friend and, through her other friends, that he had regained his health, and that he was not suffering from the cold winter climate or from the threat of the Isaurians who had returned to their country. His only fear was from the bishops, except for a few, who wished to harm him.

Again Chrysostom complained of not receiving letters from his friends, even while they could complain likewise, not having received his letters. For instance, he wrote to Olympias: “How is it that you say, you have received no letters from me? I have sent you three; one by the soldiers of the prefecture, one by Antony, one by your domestic Anatolius: they were long ones.” Persons, including holy men and women, can suffer at great lengths except for feeling forgotten by friends or not hearing from them. Chrysostom reminds us thus of the value placed on friendship, and how true friends sustain one another in suffering, whether in person or in writing.

There is yet another equally important lesson – that at times Christians will suffer persecution at the hands of fellow Christians, even bishop and monks. And that saints try to see in this the hand of God some higher purpose, and, like St. John Chrysostom following in the footsteps of St. Paul, try to rejoice in their suffering and to give glory to God by the manner in which they embrace the Cross and forgive others.
[1] This ancient city is modern day Göksun in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. Later on he was sent further away to the Caucasus, on the eastern coast of the Black Sea.

[2] This is a continuation of various posts on St. John Chrysostom by John Henry Newman from Historical Sketches, first published in the Rambler (1859-1860).

[3] These were descendants from Cilician pirates, once suppressed by Pompey who in the reign of Constantius began to devastate the land.

Posted by: Fr. Costa on Jan 28, 16 | 10:20 am | Profile

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Sun Jan 24, 2016

Three Hierarchs. St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom. Who Are the Three Holy Hierarchs?

http://www.wenorthodox.com/three-hierarchs/

Summary:

The title Three Hierarchs refers to three holy men of God from the 4-5th centuries AD – Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, and Gregory the Theologian. All Christians are indebted to these “Pillars of Faith” for their defense of the Divinity of Jesus Christ and their faithful articulation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. For their extraordinary pastoral and theological prowess they are called “Great Hierarchs and Universal Teachers.” They are held in honor by the Church as vessels of God’s grace who preserved the Christian Faith for us today. For they were not only bishops and theologians, but ascetics, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Basil, Bishop of Caesaria in Cappadocia, a man of great virtue and love for the poor, built and organized some of the first hospitals and orphanages. Almost single-handedly, he defended both the deity of Christ and the Holy Spirit in the face of great political pressures during a most tumultuous time in Church history.

John “Chrysostom” (meaning, “Golden Mouthed”) is considered to have been the greatest preacher in Christian history. His homilies on the Gospels of Matthew and John, as well as all the Epistles of Paul are a treasury of biblical interpretation. As Archbishop of the Great Church Constantinople, he faced down emperors and enlightened thousands with the teachings of Christ.

Gregory, Archbishop of Constantinople, is remembered as “the Trinitarian Theologian” for his eloquence in expressing the Christian revelation concerning the nature of the Holy Trinity and the relationship between God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Along with his friend, Basil the Great, he defended the gospel and Christ’s divinity at great personal cost.

These three holy and venerable hierarchs were great examples of love for God and for neighbor, yet without compromising saving truth. Their memory is celebrated on January 30 each year by Orthodox Christians all over the world.


The Life of Saint Basil the Great

From: http://www.oca.org

Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, “belongs not to the Church of Caesarea alone, nor merely to his own time, nor was he of benefit only to his own kinsmen, but rather to all lands and cities worldwide, and to all people he brought and still brings benefit, and for Christians he always was and will be a most salvific teacher.” Thus spoke St Basil’s contemporary, St Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium.

St Basil was born in the year 330 at Caesarea, the administrative center of Cappadocia. He was of illustrious lineage, famed for its eminence and wealth, and zealous for the Christian Faith. The saint’s grandfather and grandmother on his father’s side had to hide in the forests of Pontus for seven years during the persecution under Diocletian.

St Basil’s mother St Emilia was the daughter of a martyr. On the Greek calendar, she is commemorated on May 30. St Basil’s father was also named Basil. He was a lawyer and renowned rhetorician, and lived at Caesarea.

Ten children were born to the elder Basil and Emilia: five sons and five daughters. Five of them were later numbered among the saints: Basil the Great; Macrina (July 19) was an exemplar of ascetic life, and exerted strong influence on the life and character of St Basil the Great; Gregory, afterwards Bishop of Nyssa (January 10); Peter, Bishop of Sebaste (January 9); and Theosebia, a deaconess (January 10).

St Basil spent the first years of his life on an estate belonging to his parents at the River Iris, where he was raised under the supervision of his mother Emilia and grandmother Macrina. They were women of great refinement, who remembered an earlier bishop of Cappadocia, St Gregory the Wonderworker (November 17). Basil received his initial education under the supervision of his father, and then he studied under the finest teachers in Caesarea of Cappadocia, and it was here that he made the acquaintance of St Gregory the Theologian (January 25 and January 30). Later, Basil transferred to a school at Constantinople, where he listened to eminent orators and philosophers. To complete his education St Basil went to Athens, the center of classical enlightenment.

After a four or five year stay at Athens, Basil had mastered all the available disciplines. “He studied everything thoroughly, more than others are wont to study a single subject. He studied each science in its very totality, as though he would study nothing else.” Philosopher, philologist, orator, jurist, naturalist, possessing profound knowledge in astronomy, mathematics and medicine, “he was a ship fully laden with learning, to the extent permitted by human nature.”

At Athens a close friendship developed between Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus), which continued throughout their life. In fact, they regarded themselves as one soul in two bodies. Later on, in his eulogy for Basil the Great, St Gregory the Theologian speaks with delight about this period: “Various hopes guided us, and indeed inevitably, in learning… Two paths opened up before us: the one to our sacred temples and the teachers therein; the other towards preceptors of disciplines beyond.”

About the year 357, St Basil returned to Caesarea, where for a while he devoted himself to rhetoric. But soon, refusing offers from Caesarea’s citizens who wanted to entrust him with the education of their offspring, St Basil entered upon the path of ascetic life.

After the death of her husband, Basil’s mother, her eldest daughter Macrina, and several female servants withdrew to the family estate at Iris and there began to lead an ascetic life. Basil was baptized by Dianios, the Bishop of Caesarea, and was tonsured a Reader (On the Holy Spirit, 29). He first read the Holy Scriptures to the people, then explained them.

Later on, “wishing to acquire a guide to the knowledge of truth”, the saint undertook a journey into Egypt, Syria and Palestine, to meet the great Christian ascetics dwelling there. On returning to Cappadocia, he decided to do as they did. He distributed his wealth to the needy, then settled on the opposite side of the river not far from his mother Emilia and sister Macrina, gathering around him monks living a cenobitic life.

By his letters, Basil drew his good friend Gregory the Theologian to the monastery. Sts Basil and Gregory labored in strict abstinence in their dwelling place, which had no roof or fireplace, and the food was very humble. They themselves cleared away the stones, planted and watered the trees, and carried heavy loads. Their hands were constantly calloused from the hard work. For clothing Basil had only a tunic and monastic mantle. He wore a hairshirt, but only at night, so that it would not be obvious.

In their solitude, Sts Basil and Gregory occupied themselves in an intense study of Holy Scripture. They were guided by the writings of the Fathers and commentators of the past, especially the good writings of Origen. From all these works they compiled an anthology called Philokalia. Also at this time, at the request of the monks, St Basil wrote down a collection of rules for virtuous life. By his preaching and by his example St Basil assisted in the spiritual perfection of Christians in Cappadocia and Pontus; and many indeed turned to him. Monasteries were organized for men and for women, in which places Basil sought to combine the cenobitic (koine bios, or common) lifestyle with that of the solitary hermit.

During the reign of Constantius (337-361) the heretical teachings of Arius were spreading, and the Church summoned both its saints into service. St Basil returned to Caesarea. In the year 362 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Meletius of Antioch. In 364 he was ordained to the holy priesthood by Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea. “But seeing,” as Gregory the Theologian relates, “that everyone exceedingly praised and honored Basil for his wisdom and reverence, Eusebius, through human weakness, succumbed to jealousy of him, and began to show dislike for him.” The monks rose up in defense of St Basil. To avoid causing Church discord, Basil withdrew to his own monastery and concerned himself with the organization of monasteries.

With the coming to power of the emperor Valens (364-378), who was a resolute adherent of Arianism, a time of troubles began for Orthodoxy, the onset of a great struggle. St Basil hastily returned to Caesarea at the request of Bishop Eusebius. In the words of Gregory the Theologian, he was for Bishop Eusebius “a good advisor, a righteous representative, an expounder of the Word of God, a staff for the aged, a faithful support in internal matters, and an activist in external matters.”

From this time church governance passed over to Basil, though he was subordinate to the hierarch. He preached daily, and often twice, in the morning and in the evening. During this time St Basil composed his Liturgy. He wrote a work “On the Six Days of Creation” (Hexaemeron) and another on the Prophet Isaiah in sixteen chapters, yet another on the Psalms, and also a second compilation of monastic rules. St Basil wrote also three books “Against Eunomius,” an Arian teacher who, with the help of Aristotelian concepts, had presented the Arian dogma in philosophic form, converting Christian teaching into a logical scheme of rational concepts.

St Gregory the Theologian, speaking about the activity of Basil the Great during this period, points to “the caring for the destitute and the taking in of strangers, the supervision of virgins, written and unwritten monastic rules for monks, the arrangement of prayers [Liturgy], the felicitous arrangement of altars and other things.” Upon the death of Eusebius, the Bishop of Caesarea, St Basil was chosen to succeed him in the year 370. As Bishop of Caesarea, St Basil the Great was the newest of fifty bishops in eleven provinces. St Athanasius the Great (May 2), with joy and with thanks to God welcomed the appointment to Cappadocia of such a bishop as Basil, famed for his reverence, deep knowledge of Holy Scripture, great learning, and his efforts for the welfare of Church peace and unity.

Under Valens, the external government belonged to the Arians, who held various opinions regarding the divinity of the Son of God, and were divided into several factions. These dogmatic disputes were concerned with questions about the Holy Spirit. In his books Against Eunomios, St Basil the Great taught the divinity of the Holy Spirit and His equality with the Father and the Son. Subsequently, in order to provide a full explanation of Orthodox teaching on this question, St Basil wrote his book On the Holy Spirit at the request of St Amphilochius, the Bishop of Iconium.

St Basil’s difficulties were made worse by various circumstances: Cappadocia was divided in two under the rearrangement of provincial districts. Then at Antioch a schism occurred, occasioned by the consecration of a second bishop. There was the negative and haughty attitude of Western bishops to the attempts to draw them into the struggle with the Arians. And there was also the departure of Eustathius of Sebaste over to the Arian side. Basil had been connected to him by ties of close friendship. Amidst the constant perils St Basil gave encouragement to the Orthodox, confirmed them in the Faith, summoning them to bravery and endurance. The holy bishop wrote numerous letters to the churches, to bishops, to clergy and to individuals. Overcoming the heretics “by the weapon of his mouth, and by the arrows of his letters,” as an untiring champion of Orthodoxy, St Basil challenged the hostility and intrigues of the Arian heretics all his life. He has been compared to a bee, stinging the Church’s enemies, yet nourishing his flock with the sweet honey of his teaching.

The emperor Valens, mercilessly sending into exile any bishop who displeased him, and having implanted Arianism into other Asia Minor provinces, suddenly appeared in Cappadocia for this same purpose. He sent the prefect Modestus to St Basil. He began to threaten the saint with the confiscation of his property, banishment, beatings, and even death.

St Basil said, “If you take away my possessions, you will not enrich yourself, nor will you make me a pauper. You have no need of my old worn-out clothing, nor of my few books, of which the entirety of my wealth is comprised. Exile means nothing to me, since I am bound to no particular place. This place in which I now dwell is not mine, and any place you send me shall be mine. Better to say: every place is God’s. Where would I be neither a stranger and sojourner (Ps. 38/39:13)? Who can torture me? I am so weak, that the very first blow would render me insensible. Death would be a kindness to me, for it will bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and labor, and to Whom I hasten.”

The official was stunned by his answer. “No one has ever spoken so audaciously to me,” he said.

“Perhaps,” the saint remarked, ” that is because you’ve never spoken to a bishop before. In all else we are meek, the most humble of all. But when it concerns God, and people rise up against Him, then we, counting everything else as naught, look to Him alone. Then fire, sword, wild beasts and iron rods that rend the body, serve to fill us with joy, rather than fear.”

Reporting to Valens that St Basil was not to be intimidated, Modestus said, “Emperor, we stand defeated by a leader of the Church.” Basil the Great again showed firmness before the emperor and his retinue and made such a strong impression on Valens that the emperor dared not give in to the Arians demanding Basil’s exile. “On the day of Theophany, amidst an innumerable multitude of the people, Valens entered the church and mixed in with the throng, in order to give the appearance of being in unity with the Church. When the singing of Psalms began in the church, it was like thunder to his hearing. The emperor beheld a sea of people, and in the altar and all around was splendor; in front of all was Basil, who acknowledged neither by gesture nor by glance, that anything else was going on in church.” Everything was focused only on God and the altar-table, and the clergy serving there in awe and reverence.

St Basil celebrated the church services almost every day. He was particularly concerned about the strict fulfilling of the Canons of the Church, and took care that only worthy individuals should enter into the clergy. He incessantly made the rounds of his own church, lest anywhere there be an infraction of Church discipline, and setting aright any unseemliness. At Caesarea, St Basil built two monasteries, a men’s and a women’s, with a church in honor of the Forty Martyrs (March 9) whose relics were buried there. Following the example of monks, the saint’s clergy, even deacons and priests, lived in remarkable poverty, to toil and lead chaste and virtuous lives. For his clergy St Basil obtained an exemption from taxation. He used all his personal wealth and the income from his church for the benefit of the destitute; in every center of his diocese he built a poor-house; and at Caesarea, a home for wanderers and the homeless.

Sickly since youth, the toil of teaching, his life of abstinence, and the concerns and sorrows of pastoral service took their toll on him. St Basil died on January 1, 379 at age 49. Shortly before his death, the saint blessed St Gregory the Theologian to accept the See of Constantinople.

Upon the repose of St Basil, the Church immediately began to celebrate his memory. St Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium (November 23), in his eulogy to St Basil the Great, said: “It is neither without a reason nor by chance that holy Basil has taken leave from the body and had repose from the world unto God on the day of the Circumcision of Jesus, celebrated between the day of the Nativity and the day of the Baptism of Christ. Therefore, this most blessed one, preaching and praising the Nativity and Baptism of Christ, extolling spiritual circumcision, himself forsaking the flesh, now ascends to Christ on the sacred day of remembrance of the Circumcision of Christ. Therefore, let it also be established on this present day annually to honor the memory of Basil the Great festively and with solemnity.”

St Basil is also called “the revealer of heavenly mysteries” (Ouranophantor), a “renowned and bright star,” and “the glory and beauty of the Church.” His honorable head is in the Great Lavra on Mount Athos.

In some countries it is customary to sing special carols today in honor of St Basil. He is believed to visit the homes of the faithful, and a place is set for him at the table. People visit the homes of friends and relatives, and the mistress of the house gives a small gift to the children. A special bread (Vasilopita) is blessed and distributed after the Liturgy. A silver coin is baked into the bread, and whoever receives the slice with the coin is said to receive the blessing of St Basil for the coming year.


The Life of Saint Gregory the Theologian

From: http://www.oca.org

Saint Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople, a great Father and teacher of the Church, was born into a Christian family of eminent lineage in the year 329, at Arianzos (not far from the city of Cappadocian Nazianzos). His father, also named Gregory (January 1), was Bishop of Nazianzus. The son is the St Gregory Nazianzus encountered in Patristic theology. His pious mother, St Nonna (August 5), prayed to God for a son, vowing to dedicate him to the Lord. Her prayer was answered, and she named her child Gregory.

When the child learned to read, his mother presented him with the Holy Scripture. St Gregory received a complete and extensive education: after working at home with his uncle St Amphilochius (November 23), an experienced teacher of rhetoric, he then studied in the schools of Nazianzos, Caesarea in Cappadocia, and Alexandria. Then the saint decided to go to Athens to complete his education.

On the way from Alexandria to Greece, a terrible storm raged for many days. St Gregory, who was just a catechumen at that time, feared that he would perish in the sea before being cleansed in the waters of Baptism. St Gregory lay in the ship’s stern for twenty days, beseeching the merciful God for salvation. He vowed to dedicate himself to God, and was saved when he invoked the name of the Lord.

St Gregory spent six years in Athens studying rhetoric, poetry, geometry, and astronomy. His teachers were the renowned pagan rhetoricians Gymorias and Proeresias. St Basil, the future Archbishop of Caesarea (January 1) also studied in Athens with St Gregory. They were such close friends that they seemed to be one soul in two bodies. Julian, the future emperor (361-363) and apostate from the Christian Faith, was studying philosophy in Athens at the same time.

Upon completing his education, St Gregory remained for a certain while at Athens as a teacher of rhetoric. He was also familiar with pagan philosophy and literature.

In 358 St Gregory quietly left Athens and returned to his parents at Nazianzus. At thirty-three years of age, he received Baptism from his father, who had been appointed Bishop of Nazianzus. Against his will, St Gregory was ordained to the holy priesthood by his father. However, when the elder Gregory wished to make him a bishop, he fled to join his friend Basil in Pontus. St Basil had organized a monastery in Pontus and had written to Gregory inviting him to come. St Gregory remained with St Basil for several years. When his brother St Caesarius (March 9) died, he returned home to help his father administer his diocese. The local church was also in turmoil because of the Arian heresy. St Gregory had the difficult task of reconciling the bishop with his flock, who condemned their pastor for signing an ambiguous interpretation of the dogmas of the faith.

St Gregory convinced his father of the pernicious nature of Arianism, and strengthened him in Orthodoxy. At this time, Bishop Anthimus, who pretended to be Orthodox but was really a heretic, became Metropolitan of Tyana. St Basil had been consecrated as the Archbishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia. Anthimus wished to separate from St Basil and to divide the province of Cappadocia.

St Basil the Great made St Gregory bishop of the city of Sasima, a small town between Caesarea and Tyana. However, St Gregory remained at Nazianzos in order to assist his dying father, and he guided the flock of this city for a while after the death of his father in 374.

Upon the death of Patriarch Valentus of Constantinople in the year 378, a council of bishops invited St Gregory to help the Church of Constantinople, which at this time was ravaged by heretics. Obtaining the consent of St Basil the Great, St Gregory came to Constantinople to combat heresy. In the year 379 he began to serve and preach in a small church called “Anastasis” (“Resurrection”). Like David fighting the Philistines with a sling, St Gregory battled against impossible odds to defeat false doctrine.

Heretics were in the majority in the capital, Arians, Macedonians, and Appolinarians. The more he preached, the more did the number of heretics decrease, and the number of the Orthodox increased. On the night of Pascha (April 21, 379) when St Gregory was baptizing catechumens, a mob of armed heretics burst into the church and cast stones at the Orthodox, killing one bishop and wounding St Gregory. But the fortitude and mildness of the saint were his armor, and his words converted many to the Orthodox Church.

St Gregory’s literary works (orations, letters, poems) show him as a worthy preacher of the truth of Christ. He had a literary gift, and the saint sought to offer his talent to God the Word: “I offer this gift to my God, I dedicate this gift to Him. Only this remains to me as my treasure. I gave up everything else at the command of the Spirit. I gave all that I had to obtain the pearl of great price. Only in words do I master it, as a servant of the Word. I would never intentionally wish to disdain this wealth. I esteem it, I set value by it, I am comforted by it more than others are comforted by all the treasures of the world. It is the companion of all my life, a good counselor and converser; a guide on the way to Heaven and a fervent co-ascetic.” In order to preach the Word of God properly, the saint carefully prepared and revised his works.

In five sermons, or “Theological Orations,” St Gregory first of all defines the characteristics of a theologian, and who may theologize. Only those who are experienced can properly reason about God, those who are successful at contemplation and, most importantly, who are pure in soul and body, and utterly selfless. To reason about God properly is possible only for one who enters into it with fervor and reverence.

Explaining that God has concealed His Essence from mankind, St Gregory demonstrates that it is impossible for those in the flesh to view mental objects without a mixture of the corporeal. Talking about God in a positive sense is possible only when we become free from the external impressions of things and from their effects, when our guide, the mind, does not adhere to impure transitory images. Answering the Eunomians, who would presume to grasp God’s Essence through logical speculation, the saint declared that man perceives God when the mind and reason become godlike and divine, i.e. when the image ascends to its Archetype. (Or. 28:17). Furthermore, the example of the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets and also the Apostles has demonstrated, that the Essence of God is incomprehensible for mortal man. St Gregory cited the futile sophistry of Eunomios: “God begat the Son either through His will, or contrary to will. If He begat contrary to will, then He underwent constraint. If by His will, then the Son is the Son of His intent.”

Confuting such reasoning, St Gregory points out the harm it does to man: “You yourself, who speak so thoughtlessly, were you begotten voluntarily or involuntarily by your father? If involuntarily, then your father was under the sway of some tyrant. Who? You can hardly say it was nature, for nature is tolerant of chastity. If it was voluntarily, then by a few syllables you deprive yourself of your father, for thus you are shown to be the son of Will, and not of your father” (Or. 29:6).

St Gregory then turns to Holy Scripture, with particular attention examining a place where it points out the Divine Nature of the Son of God. St Gregory’s interpretations of Holy Scripture are devoted to revealing that the divine power of the Savior was actualized even when He assumed an impaired human nature for the salvation of mankind.

The first of St Gregory’s Five Theological Orations is devoted to arguments against the Eunomians for their blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Closely examining everything that is said in the Gospel about the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the saint refutes the heresy of Eunomios, which rejected the divinity of the Holy Spirit. He comes to two fundamental conclusions. First, in reading Holy Scripture, it is necessary to reject blind literalism and to try and understand its spiritual sense. Second, in the Old Testament the Holy Spirit operated in a hidden way. “Now the Spirit Himself dwells among us and makes the manifestation of Himself more certain. It was not safe, as long as they did not acknowledge the divinity of the Father, to proclaim openly that of the Son; and as long as the divinity of the Son was not accepted, they could not, to express it somewhat boldly, impose on us the burden of the Holy Spirit” (Or. 31:26).

The divinity of the Holy Spirit is a sublime subject. “Look at these facts: Christ is born, the Holy Spirit is His Forerunner. Christ is baptized, the Spirit bears witness to this… Christ works miracles, the Spirit accompanies them. Christ ascends, the Spirit takes His place. What great things are there in the idea of God which are not in His power? What titles appertaining to God do not apply also to Him, except for Unbegotten and Begotten? I tremble when I think of such an abundance of titles, and how many Names they blaspheme, those who revolt against the Spirit!” (Or. 31:29).

The Orations of St Gregory are not limited only to this topic. He also wrote Panegyrics on Saints, Festal Orations, two invectives against Julian the Apostate, “two pillars, on which the impiety of Julian is indelibly written for posterity,” and various orations on other topics. In all, forty-five of St Gregory’s orations have been preserved.

The letters of the saint compare favorably with his best theological works. All of them are clear, yet concise. In his poems as in all things, St Gregory focused on Christ. “If the lengthy tracts of the heretics are new Psalters at variance with David, and the pretty verses they honor are like a third testament, then we also shall sing Psalms, and begin to write much and compose poetic meters,” said the saint. Of his poetic gift the saint wrote: “I am an organ of the Lord, and sweetly… do I glorify the King, all atremble before Him.”

The fame of the Orthodox preacher spread through East and West. But the saint lived in the capital as though he still lived in the wilderness: “his food was food of the wilderness; his clothing was whatever necessary. He made visitations without pretense, and though in proximity of the court, he sought nothing from the court.”

The saint received a shock when he was ill. One whom he considered as his friend, the philosopher Maximus, was consecrated at Constantinople in St Gregory’s place. Struck by the ingratitude of Maximus, the saint decided to resign the cathedra, but his faithful flock restrained him from it. The people threw the usurper out of the city. On November 24, 380 the holy emperor Theodosius arrived in the capital and, in enforcing his decree against the heretics, the main church was returned to the Orthodox, with St Gregory making a solemn entrance. An attempt on the life of St Gregory was planned, but instead the assassin appeared before the saint with tears of repentance.


At the Second Ecumenical Council in 381, St Gregory was chosen as Patriarch of Constantinople. After the death of Patriarch Meletius of Antioch, St Gregory presided at the Council. Hoping to reconcile the West with the East, he offered to recognize Paulinus as Patriarch of Antioch.

Those who had acted against St Gregory on behalf of Maximus, particularly Egyptian and Macedonian bishops, arrived late for the Council. They did not want to acknowledge the saint as Patriarch of Constantinople, since he was elected in their absence.

St Gregory decided to resign his office for the sake of peace in the Church: “Let me be as the Prophet Jonah! I was responsible for the storm, but I would sacrifice myself for the salvation of the ship. Seize me and throw me… I was not happy when I ascended the throne, and gladly would I descend it.”

After telling the emperor of his desire to quit the capital, St Gregory appeared again at the Council to deliver a farewell address (Or. 42) asking to be allowed to depart in peace.

Upon his return to his native region, St Gregory turned his attention to the incursion of Appolinarian heretics into the flock of Nazianzus, and he established the pious Eulalius there as bishop, while he himself withdrew into the solitude of Arianzos so dear to his heart. The saint, zealous for the truth of Christ continued to affirm Orthodoxy through his letters and poems, while remaining in the wilderness. He died on January 25, 389, and is honored with the title “Theologian,” also given to the holy Apostle and Evangelist John.

In his works St Gregory, like that other Theologian St John, directs everything toward the Pre-eternal Word. St John of Damascus (December 4), in the first part of his book AN EXACT EXPOSITION OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH, followed the lead of St Gregory the Theologian.

St Gregory was buried at Nazianzos. In the year 950, his holy relics were transferred to Constantinople into the church of the Holy Apostles. Later on, a portion of his relics was transferred to Rome.

In appearance, the saint was of medium height and somewhat pale. He had thick eyebrows, and a short beard. His contemporaries already called the archpastor a saint. The Orthodox Church, honors St Gregory as a second Theologian and insightful writer on the Holy Trinity.

”O glorious Father Gregory, Your knowledge has overcome the pride of false wisdom. The church is clothed with your teaching as a robe of righteousness. We your children celebrate your memory crying out: Rejoice, O father of unsurpassable wisdom!” [Kontakion Hymn].


The Life of St. John Chrysostom

From www.oca.org

Commemorated on January 27

Saint John Chrysostom This great ecumenical teacher and hierarch died in the city of Comana in the year 407 on his way to a place of exile. He had been condemned by the intrigues of the empress Eudoxia because of his daring denunciation of the vices ruling over Constantinople. The transfer of his venerable relics was made in the year 438, thirty years after the death of the saint during the reign of Eudoxia’s son emperor Theodosius II (408-450).

St John Chrysostom had the warm love and deep respect of the people, and grief over his untimely death lived on in the hearts of Christians. St John’s disciple, St Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434-447), during services in the Church of Hagia Sophia, preached a sermon praising St John. He said, “O John, your life was filled with sorrow, but your death was glorious. Your grave is blessed and reward is great, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ O graced one, having conquered the bounds of time and place! Love has conquered space, unforgetting memory has annihilated the limits, and place does not hinder the miracles of the saint.”

Those who were present in church, deeply touched by the words of St Proclus, did not allow him even to finish his sermon. With one accord they began to entreat the Patriarch to intercede with the emperor, so that the relics of St John might be brought back to Constantinople.

The emperor, overwhelmed by St Proclus, gave his consent and gave the order to transfer the relics of St John. But those he sent were unable to lift the holy relics until the emperor realized that he had sent men to take the saint’s relics from Comana with an edict, instead of with a prayer. He wrote a letter to St John, humbly asking him to forgive his audacity, and to return to Constantinople. After the message was read at the grave of St John, they easily took up the relics, carried them onto a ship and arrived at Constantinople.

The coffin with the relics was placed in the Church of Holy Peace (Hagia Eirene). When Patriarch Proclus opened the coffin, the body of St John was found to be incorrupt. The emperor approached the coffin with tears, asking forgiveness for his mother, who had banished St John. All day and night people did not leave the coffin.

In the morning the coffin was brought to the Church of the Holy Apostles. The people cried out, “Father, take up your throne.” Then Patriarch Proclus and the clergy standing by the relics saw St John open his mouth and say, “Peace be to all.” Many of the sick were healed at his tomb.

The celebration of the transfer of the relics of St John Chrysostom was established in the ninth century.


Posted by: Fr. Costa on Jan 24, 16 | 9:49 am | Profile

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