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10.02.2018

One day in the world of St. John Chrysostom


St. John Chrysostom interprets the Pauline Epistles

We live in a changing world. Around life, death, past, aging, transitions from one stage to another. People become what their parents were, children grow into young men and turn into adults, old people go to the ground, and everyone is ruthlessly pursued by the specter of death. It has always been like this since the world stands. But our way of life aggravates the changes and care to such an extent that sometimes, if our hearts are sensitive, this dance of impermanence painfully presses, it penetrates into the immortal soul and casts the shadow of non-being on the eternal foundations of the soul.

Imagine what a working day was in the world of St. John Chrysostom, who wrote so many books, how many would not have written ten people, and such interpretations, for the comprehension of which eternity is needed. Imagine a world without a single mechanical noise, no cars, no electric bulbs, where only a lonely bowl is cut through the deep darkness of the night, hung over a massive Scripture sewn from sheepskins, or beats of horse hoofs on the pavement stones. The world without TV, Internet, mobile phone, Facebook, without trains, buzzers; a world where the rattle of automated matter is not audible at all. The world is wireless, that is, without networks, without sound signals, without luminescence, but full of grace, bees buzzing and stars shining. A world without planes in the sky, but full of birds.

Day, beginning early, but without an alarm clock, but with the singing of cocks; peace with the Divine Liturgy, sung slowly, pacifying, without microphones and speakers, but with voices coming from the chest, full of strong mountain air. I remember how on St. Athos the holy elder Dionysius from Kolchu [1] whispered to me that when a great Nektari-protopsalt sang, a strong stream of air formed before him, a wind full of melodic Byzantine harmony, which revived from the dead even the saintly relics.

Let us return to the day of St. John. After the heavenly communion of the body of Christ, several thousand hungry people crowded around the church, leisurely treated themselves to the bounties collected by the accusatory preaching of the great Antiochian.

Then the day continued with the study of books, long writing, interpretations, letters to different corners of the empire, sent today, and those that came through the year, with holy precepts, conversations with priests from the diocese, many-many prayers, reading out the daily circle of church worship, rule, and then reading at night by the light of a lamp and by a dream on a bench or on a wooden bed.

At that time people did not have separate rooms, they all had one common room, at the same time serving as living room, dining room, kitchen and bedroom, so that they shared everything fraternally - from a bowl of food to the crying of an infant in the middle of the night. The monk, however, had his own cell, filled with the light of prayer and humility.

What I'm saying can be experienced - of course, to a very small degree - if you go to a secluded monastery, for some time to immerse yourself in his sacrament of prayer and peace. But then we'll have to return to the city's hustle and bustle. So it was with me. The two months of summer holidays spent on the Holy Mountain came to their inevitable end, and I was forced again to follow the worldly ways: from Kareia to Daphne, Ouranopolis and Thessaloniki. Here the city seemed terribly noisy to me, although in comparison with other cities it is calm. Everywhere I felt an acute sense of speaking without meaning, loneliness, advertised in cries; people were yelling about their non-existence, they were gesticulating in the middle of the street and were shouting for no good. My ears ached with such noise, and for several days, until I got used to it, migraine did not leave me.

You see, what a huge difference in the style of life, what a gap lies between our and the holy fathers way of existence ?! How much noise over trifles here in the XXI century, what a wailing earth, from which forces are squeezed out, how much tedious uselessness, splashed on the screens and in the hearts and having the appearance of being.

The noise of electric welding, a jackhammer or a chainsaw, the rumbling of iron wheels, the included motors - all this is like a painful cry of matter, overloaded with the weight of human sin and the ashamed obsession of a man to admire without reason.

To decide to return to a true existence is not to make a short circuit of all the technological connections of mankind. It means to start listening attentively to the voice of the earth, to go deeper into the mystery of life, to return to the village (on the advice of St. Paisius the Svyatogorets), to learn the ancient customs that make up the foundation for the soul, to lie down to the temple and look deeper at this miracle of life that God constantly pours out to us, to experience His unlimited love.


[1] Hieromonk Dionysius (Ignat, 1909-2004) was one of the great Athonite confessors. By the origin of the Romanians, he came to Athos in 17 years and fought here his whole life, up to 95 years. Kolchu - the name of the cell of St. George at the Romanian monastery of Prodrom (St. John the Baptist).

A source: Pravoslavie.Ru

Author: Priest John Valentine Istrati. Has translated from Romanian Zinaida Pejkova

Tags: Religion, Christianity

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