Theology

Saint John Chrysostom: Liturgical Ethos and Modernity

Bishop Dr. Jovan (Puric)

Modernity confronts us with many dilemmas. Man must answer challenges, and not only those for which his teachers in his educational-upbringing process prepared him, but also totally new and different problems that life places before us. And it has always been so. Still, sociologists, pedagogues and culturologists generally agree that today’s world is changing at a significantly faster pace than before. The technological progress and social innovations of the 20th century have transformed the world much faster than, for instance, the entire process of technological development during medieval times. This tempo of development has continued to this day.

Saint Bishop Nikolai Of Ohrid and Zhicha and Enlightener of America

Like St. Sava , the Enlightener of Serbia, holy Bishop Nicholai died in a foreign land. Behind the main church of Chelije Monastery in his home village of Lelich, next to the grave of Archimandrite Justin Popovich ( +1979) , was marked  a place  for his return to the homeland and the people he so very much loved. Thus, on April 27, 1991, after twenty five years of repose in the Lord in America, holy Bishop Nicholai’s bodywas returned to his homeland in western Serbia. Pious American Orthodox, particularly many Russian Orthodox, did not forget theblessed Nicholai, as at St. Tikhon’s Monastery his room wasmade into a shrine for prayer and meditation.

Repose of St Nikolai of Zhicha

Commemorated on March 18

Saint Nikolai of Zhicha, “the Serbian Chrysostom,” was born in Lelich in western Serbia on January 4, 1881 (December 23, 1880 O.S.). His parents were Dragomir and Katherine Velimirovich, who lived on a farm where they raised a large family. His pious mother was a major influence on his spiritual development, teaching him by word and especially by example. As a small child, Nikolai often walked three miles to the Chelije Monastery with his mother to attend services there.

Sickly as a child, Nikolai was not physically strong as an adult. He failed his physical requirements when he applied to the military academy, but his excellent academic qualifications allowed him to enter the Saint Sava Seminary in Belgrade, even before he finished preparatory school.

Our Righteous Father John of Sinai, author of "The Ladder of Divine Ascent"

St John Climacus of Sinai accepted the ascetical life from the age of about sixteen and was tonsured as a monk three or four years later. Then, at the age of 35, he isolated himself from the world and lived as a hermit for 40 years at a monastery church called Thola, about 10 kilometres from the Mount Sinai monastery.

While living an ascetical life he is reported to have received the gift of tears and the grace of continual prayer. Fellow monks in large numbers began to seek him out for spiritual guidance. When criticized for making a mockery of his hermitage by entertaining so many people there, he decided to keep total silence. After a year or so of this, those who had criticized him pleaded with him to resume guiding others.

Experienced both in the solitary life of the hermit and in the communal life of cenobitic monasticism, he was appointed Abbot of the Monastery at Mount Sinai (built at the site of the burning bush where Moses spoke to God). The day he was made Abbot of Sinai, the Prophet Moses was seen giving commands to those who served at the table.

Venerable Gerasimus of the Jordan

“Father, you burned with heavenly love, preferring the harshness of the Jordan desert to all the delights of the world. Therefore, a wild beast served you until your death; he died in obedience and grief on your grave.” (Kontakion to St. Gerasimus) .

The saying goes that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. And a lion figures prominently in the story of a Saint who is celebrated on March 17 on the Gregorian Calendar (which is March 4 on the Julian). It is St. Gerasimus of the Jordan – so called to differentiate him from another Gerasimus, the “walking Saint” who is the Patron of the Greek Island of Kephalonia. Gerasimus of the Jordan was born in the province of Lycia near the Mediterranean in the south of Asia Minor (today Turkey). He was an especially serious young man and was still quite youthful when he gave up the comfortable life in the home of his wealthy parents and went to pursue a monastic path in the desert of southern Egypt called the Thebaid because of its proximity to the ancient Egyptian capital city of Thebes. Having gained some maturity by his endeavours and the counsels of fellow desert dwellers, Gerasimus returned to his native Lycia. Later, about 450, he settled in the desert of the Jordan in Palestine where he remained for the rest of his life among other monks. The lives of these men of God were marked by strict asceticism.

Homily on the Third Sunday of Great Lent. On Carrying Your Cross

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Mk. 8:34), said the Lord to his disciples, calling them unto Him, as we heard today in the Gospels.

Dear brothers and sisters! We too are disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, because we are Christians. We too are called unto the Lord, to this holy temple, to hear His teaching. We stand before the face of the Lord. His gaze is directed at us. Our souls are laid bare before Him; our secret thoughts and hidden feelings are open to Him. He sees all of our intentions; He sees the truth, and the sins we have committed from our youth; He sees our whole life, past and future; even what we have not yet done is already written in His book.[1] He knows the hour of our passing into immeasurable eternity, and gives us His all-holy commandment for our salvation: "Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

First and second finding of the Honorable Head of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist of the Lord, John

After the Beheading of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John (August 29), his body was buried by disciples in the Samarian city of Sebaste, and his venerable head was hidden by Herodias in an unclean place. Saint Joanna (June 27), the wife of King Herod’s steward Chuza (Luke 8:3), secretly took the holy head and placed it into a vessel and buried it on the Mount of Olives in one of Herod’s properties.

After many years, this property passed into the possession of a government official who became a monk with the name of Innocent. He built a church and a cell there. When they started to dig the foundation, the vessel with the venerable head of John the Baptist was uncovered. Innocent recognized its great holiness from the signs of grace emanating from it. Thus occurred the First Finding of the Head. Innocent preserved it with great piety, but fearful that the holy relic might be abused by unbelievers, before his own death he again hid it in that same place, where it was found. Upon his death the church fell into ruin and was destroyed.