Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Random Tuesday, A Day in the Life...

O Holy hierarch, father John, pray unto God for us!

This morning we gave Barsik (the dog) back to his people, Bill and Alyona, after their trip to San Francisco this past weekend. They brought us a wonderful picture of his relics which now sits atop his icon in 'the quiet room'. I am grateful that they got to go visit St John and visit his many places of service, it is truly a blessing. Glory to God!

Katherine and I were talking after they left, she asked if they got to see St John and I told her yes. She then asked if he was serving while they were there and it occurred to me that being that she is a child, her concept of timing and passing of life is so unreal compared to a grown adult. A particularly good example of our need to be childlike in order that we enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, it is timeless there as is the reality of a child where minutes pass like days and days like hours. If a child is given the opportunity, they will gain a healthy understanding of what death is in reality and have no fear as it is a natural progression in life. Of course, we must also have a proper, even if basic, understanding of death in order that we impart that to our young ones. That being said, I will get back on course...when she asked if St John was serving, I told her yes, that his body is here in his cathedral, but his soul is in Heaven serving with God and with all His saints. She did not even blink at my answer, she does not question that it is true, again, the humbling true acceptance only a child can offer.

After placing the picture in its home above St John's icon, it seemed that prayers were in order and since we have a copy of the Akathist to St John, it was more than perfect. Katherine sat and drew pictures in 'the quiet room' at Papa's desk and piped in with the prayers she knows, which she is more than happy to offer these days. I am grateful to have all that we have, even the things I do not always care for or understand. Reading the prayers is such a wonderful reminder of the beauty of the Saint's life, as it is when reading any Akathist. It evoked memories of reading about St John's life and service. He gave so much of his life to the Church from childhood and, to this day, continues to give. He was rector to many parishes, bringing Truth to many who had forgotten...he is father to many orphaned children, who can never forget his sweet life of prayer and service...while in Shanghai, he would go out into the streets at night to look for babies who had been cast into the garbage cans, yes, this actually happened and, what's more, he actually found them there and would bring them home to the orphanage! He fled from place to place as godless communism ate away different pieces of the world before he eventually came to America where he lived the rest of his days. When he came, he did not want to leave his children, but he could only come first, but after many petitions to the government and even more prayers, the immigration laws were changed and many were able to come to America and return to their beloved Vladyka. There are so many numerous thing that St John has done, and continues to do regularly, that there is hardly room enough in a book to recount them all, so please forgive me for t he lack of stories I provide!

It befell me that St John was a father to many orphans who, being orphaned, were granted a wonderful mercy of God by being put in the care of our father John. Though being an orphan is a sad state of affairs for many, St John gave so much to these children through all of his service. While they struggled to have enough for the children to eat, he would still bring home more children, believing there would always be enough, because God provides and He always did. He gave them so much more than food for the body, but eternal manna from Heaven through the Divinity of the Church with her essential lessons and a true love for God. What a blessing to have instruction in the faith from a Saint of our Lord! It draws to mind a portion of Psalm 84 (83, septuagint, which is this translation):
10 For one day in thy courts is better than thousands. I would rather be an abject in the house of God, than dwell in the tents of sinners.
11 For the Lord loves mercy and truth: God will give grace and glory: the Lord will not withhold good things from them that walk in innocence.
12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusts in thee.
This is how my thoughts is better to be an orphan in the house of a man of God, who is a Saint among His people and whose life is not of this world, than to live with many riches and find very little of redeeming Grace in a world of godless temptations.

May his presence in our churches, and prayers to God in Heaven, incite us all to live a more fervent life of prayer as we cycle through the fasts and feasts of the liturgical year, creating in us a true oneness through the communion of our plight to God as we strive to follow Christ through the example of the footsteps of one of His chosen as he himself succeeded in following after Christ throughout his life on earth. My hope is that many more people will continue to learn about St John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, a Saint clad in flesh for our sake, to the Glory of God our Father! Holy, Holy, Holy art Thou oh God of our fathers! Lord have mercy and may His peace be with all of you.

Here is an excerpt from one of St John's sermons from 'The Church as the Body of Christ':
"The Church is unity in Christ, the closest union with Christ of all who rightly believe on Him and love Him, and all their union is through Christ.

Now the Church consists of both her earthly and heavenly parts, for the Son of God came to earth and became man that He might lead man into heaven and make him once again a citizen of paradise, returning to him his original condition of sinlessness and wholeness and uniting him unto Himself.

This is accomplished by the action of divine grace granted through the Church, but effort is also required from man himself. God saves His fallen creature by His own love for him, but man's love for his Creator is also necessary and without it salvation is impossible for him. Striving toward God and cleaving unto the Lord by its humble love, the human soul obtains power to cleanse itself from sin and to strengthen itself for the struggle to full victory over sin."