It’s late at night, and once again I find myself in a reflective mode. Life here has begun to fall into the shape of new routines, some good, some already not so good. But while it’s not that good a thing that I’m shorting myself of sleep–especially this week–the penchant for reflection during the quiet moments of darkness of night and early morning takes hold of me now more often.
I’m mindful again of the intercessions of our family’s patron saint, St. John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai and San Francisco (or St John the Wonderworker as I prefer to call him). I’ve collected accounts of his intercessions for my family on my St. John the Wonderworker blog category page. There you will find other goods such as links to services, icons of the saint, his biography, and so on.
It occurred to me in reading the post below how many have been the answers to St. John’s prayers for us. In fact, to be sure, I can think of nothing for which we’ve asked his prayers that God has not seen fit to answer in some affirmative way.
As I’ve remarked before, this isn’t due to some magic or what have you. It’s a matter of God’s love. His love for the saint, his love for us.
St. John’s protection of orphans is the quintessential picture of God’s fatherhood, and revelatory, too, of what it means for God to love us.
I read again of the uncovering of the saint’s incorrupt relics and was deeply moved.
Our God is a man-befriending God. What love he shows us in that he cares for us through the love and prayers of others, not the least of whom are his glorified ones.
M.A. Shakhmatova witnessed the saint’s ascetic exploit in Shanghai almost from the very moment of his arrival there in 1934, on the feast of the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple. She saw Archbishop John crucify himself in both founding and managing the orphanage. Living conditions were terrible, and the needs of the children, whose parents had escaped Communism, were overwhelming. The young Bishop, almost from the start, gathered concerned ladies from his parish, asked them to found a committee, rented a house, and opened up a hostel for orphans or children whose parents were in need. The children would often be underfed, abused, and frightened, until Archbishop John would come and personally take them into his orphanage and school. Each child – and there were over three thousand who went through the orphanage – had a traumatic story.
There was, for example, a boy named Paul who had witnessed his father and mother being killed and chopped into pieces by the Communists right in front of his eyes. Because of the trauma the boy had become mute and could not even pronounce his own name. He was like a trapped animal, afraid of everyone, and trusted only his fists and spitting. He was brought into the orphanage at a time when it was packed and had no place for him. Due to the fact that Paul was so frightened, the ladies there thought that he was abnormal and refused to accept him lest he scare the other children.
When Archbishop John found out about him, he insisted on immediately dropping everything and going to meet the boy personally. They did not even know that he was a Russian boy and spoke Russian, for he only mumbled and hissed like a caged animal. When Archbishop John arrived, he sat down before the boy, who was still trembling, and said to him the following: “I know that you have lost your father, but now you have found another one – me,” and he hugged him. This was said with such power that the boy burst out in tears and his speech returned to him.
Continue reading “St. John the Wonderworker’s Effective Intercessions”
Brain Kid’s Recent thoughts sure feel familiar to me.
Prayer to Saint Herman of Alaska
O Almighty God, We praise and glorify You, Our Lord and Creator. All the earth and everything within it acknowledges You as Creator, The Eternal Father.
Heaven and Earth, Angels and Men, together, praise and glorify You, the most glorious company of Apostles, the praiseworthy fellowship of Prophets, the great and noble gathering of Martyrs, the whole community of Saints, all praise You.
We the members of the holy community on earth pray: Make us worthy with all the Saints in Heaven, especially the newly glorified Elder, the Blessed Herman of Alaska, to reign in Your everlasting glory.
Continue reading “The Glorification of Our Holy Father and Patron of the Americas, St Herman of Alaska”
Donald Sheehan’s DOSTOEVSKY AND MEMORY ETERNAL: An Eastern Orthodox Approach to the Brothers Karamazov [H/T: tmatt] is absolutely brilliant. The first two paragraphs draw you in and won’t let you go till you’ve ingested it all.
Central to Eastern Orthodox Christendom is the singing, at the end of every Orthodox funeral, of the song known as “Memory Eternal” (in Church Slavonic: Vechnaya Pamyat). This song also concludes Dostoevsky’s great, final novel, The Brothers Karamazov, when, following the funeral of the boy whom Alyosha Karamazov (and the circle of schoolboys around Alyosha) had deeply loved, Alyosha speaks to the boys about the funeral and about the meaning of the resurrection, with this brief song as their steady focus.
My thesis is simply this: to know something of this song’s meaning is to comprehend both the Eastern Orthodox faith and Dostoevsky’s greatest novel.
Go spend a half hour with this essay/lecture.
Sex-charged lyrics may accelerate teens’ libidos:
CHICAGO – Teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs, a study found.
Whether it’s hip-hop, rap, pop or rock, much of popular music aimed at teens contains sexual overtones. Its influence on their behavior appears to depend on how the sex is portrayed, researchers found.
Songs depicting men as “sex-driven studs” and women as sex objects and with explicit references to sex acts are more likely to trigger early sexual behavior than those where sexual references are more veiled and relationships appear more committed, the study found.
Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Among heavy listeners, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who said they listened to little or no sexually degrading music.
Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music “gives them a specific message about sex,” said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.
“We think that really lowers kids’ inhibitions and makes them less thoughtful” about sexual decisions and may influence them to make decisions they regret, he said.
Today is the feast day of the Seven Holy Youths of Ephesus. From the Prolog of Ohrid:
There was a great persecution of Christians during the reign of Decius. The emperor himself came to Ephesus and there arranged a boisterous and noisy celebration in honor of the lifeless idols as well as a terrible slaughter of Christians. Seven young men, soldiers, refrained from the impure offering of sacrifices and they earnestly prayed to the one God to save the Christian people. They were the sons of the most influential elders of Ephesus and their names were Maximilian, Jamblichus, Martin [Martinian], John, Dionysius, Exacustodianus, and Antonin [Antoninus]. When they were accused before the emperor, they retreated to a hill outside Ephesus called Celion and there they hid in a cave. When the emperor learned of this, he commanded that the cave be sealed off. However, God according to His far-reaching Providence caused a miraculous and long-lasting sleep to fall upon the young men. The imperial courtiers, Theodore and Rufinus, secret Christians, built in that wall a copper sarcophagus with lead plaques on which were written the names of these young men and their martyr’s death during the reign of Emperor Decius. More than two hundred years then passed. During the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Younger (408-450 A.D.), there was a great dispute about the resurrection. There were some that doubted the resurrection. Emperor Theodosius was in great sorrow as a result of this dispute among the faithful and prayed to God that He, in some way, would reveal the truth to men. At that time of turmoil in the Church some sheepherders of Adolius, who owned the hill Celion began to build folds for the sheep and removed stone after stone from that cave. The youths then awakened from their sleep young and healthy, the same as when they fell asleep. The news of this miracle was spread abroad on all sides so that even Theodosius himself came with a great entourage and with delight conversed with the youths. After a week, they again fell into the sleep of death to await the general resurrection. Emperor Theodosius wanted to place their bodies in gold sarcophagi but they appeared to him in a dream and told him to leave them in the earth as they were laid out.
Troparion of the holy Youths Tone 4
O miracle of faith! The seven holy youths remained in a cave/ as though in a royal palace and died without corruption./ After many years they rose up from sleep/ to convince all men of the Resurrection./ Through their prayers, O Christ our God, have mercy on us all.
Kontakion of the holy Youths Tone 4
They forsook the things of the world as corrupt;/ they received the gifts of incorruption and remained in death without corruption./ They arose after many years/ having buried their enemies’ unbelief./ Today as we praise these seven holy youths let us give glory to Christ.