influence of archbishop Meletius, under whose gentle guide he began to withdraw from secular life and apply himself

to the study of religion. After by Vicki Petrakis undergoing catechism and a Sydney period of probation, he was baptised by Meletius in approximately 369. He was St John Chrysostom or “golden mouth” as he is known as a result of later ordained reader by Meletius but as yet had not his eloquent preaching, was of received his call to the Greek origin born in Antioch (Syria) in approximately 347. The ministry. liturgy that the Orthodox celebrate Some five years after his most Sundays of the year is baptism, St John withdrew attributed and named after him. His into the ascetic life. He life was neither calm nor easy became a monk and although it could have been given connected to a community of that he belonged to the intellectual hermits in the mountains of and aristocratic circles of his day. Antioch, remaining there for four He was an ascetic towards the years. Following this period he beginning of his life and a martyr retired deeper into the desert to live towards the end of it. He spent his in a cave by himself. Within two life as an evangelist and a preacher years however he had exhausted his of the Gospel dealing with body and impaired his health contemporary issues of the fourth forcing him to withdraw completely century. His father died following from the desert. He went back to his birth, leaving his mother a Antioch in 381 where he gave young widow at 20 years of age. himself to pastoral ministry. As one She wished to remain unmarried commentator has described this and devoted her life to St John’s period in Chrysostom’s life, ‘he upbringing and good education. went back to Antioch tempered, chastened, and strengthened by his At 18 years of age St John was time of contemplation in the sent to study grammar, poetry, wilderness, ready to do whatever it rhetoric and philosophy and soon may be God’s will he should do. became a most outstanding pupil. He decided to practice law opening The silence of the desert had his door to wealth and a high public prepared his mind to shape the words which were to stir men’s office. As an upright young man minds and hearts’ (Donald Attwater, distinguished by a high moral St John Chrysostom (The Bruce character, Antiochian society clashed with his emerging sense of Publishing Company, Milwaukee, identity leading him to abandon the USA, 1939) 24). legal profession. At that time page 2 Chrysostom met and came under the
the Fathers of the Church

The Life of St John Chrysostom

C H R ISTMAS Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Bishop Seraphim Joseph Sigrist
A child looks forward to Christmas, and so do we, because at this moment considering what Paul Claudel called ‘the Eternal Childhood of God’ we are free to set aside just for a moment our tiredness and our experience and become like the children we really in our deep heart never ceased to be. The child expects... And it is certain that as long as there is time there is expectation. We live from moment to moment in expectation. But we cannot really expect what we have not experienced; without an experience first there can be a longing but not expectancy. If we have never been loved, how will we expect or
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year XXX November - December

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The fathers...

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St Meletius ordained Chrysostom deacon at the age of 37. He became know to common people and was loved by them. In 386 archbishop Flavian ordained Chrysostom into the priesthood. At the cathedral in the Old Town called the Palea and in other churches, Chrysostom devoted himself to cultivating his

gift as preacher for the next twelve years. Chrysostom was later to become bishop of Constantinople, when he was just over 50 years of age. He did not take this new role lightly. Constantinople was in need of reform following the degradation of society under the influence of Arian clergy for many years. Chrysostom took courage and commenced reform, first in his own house. He refused to attend dinner parties, the imperial court or ride about in a chariot. He sold the extensive episcopal wardrobe, works of art and other possessions, and used the proceeds for his charitable causes. In a city where society was living in its peak element, materially, Chrysostom the monk on the throne of bishop, offended. He continually attacked the rich for their luxury and extravagance

and the empress Eudoxia took this matter personally. In all sectors of the community he gained enemies, especially in the person of the bishop of Alexandria, Theophilus, who rallied against him and where in a meeting of 36 bishops they accused Chrysostom on 29 fabricated accounts. He was deposed from his office in August 403, but was recalled the next day because of the uprising of the people. Following his return St John was again exiled to Cucusus in Armenia five days following Pentecost (June 9), 404, where he remained for three years. From there he was further banished to the end of the Black Sea and forced to travel on foot in severe weather until his death on September 14, 407 in Pontus prior to reaching his final destination of exile. The Church remembers him on January 30th, and November 13th.
as the Hosanna Community, whose efforts reach out to youth, poor, prisoners and the handicapped. Bishop Seraphim maintains an active and informative diary, which may be visited on http:// users/seraphimsigrist/ I gratefully acknowledge Vladyka Seraphim as my spiritual father and thank him for his contribution to this issue’s Parochial Life (D.C.)]

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Bishop Seraphim Joseph Sigrist

page 1 CHRISTMAS... imagine love except as a mysterious word with no known connotation, as a longing. But children have experienced Christmas and so has the world and because of Christmas, expectation is possible... At Christmas the world moves from longing to Expectation (allowing a capital E to that Expectation grounded in a certain hope and not just in a dull sense of passing time) and what a great difference that is, and how it is at the centre of the joy at the deep heart of nature, and how indeed Christmas is not only the beginning of Expectation but really the beginning of the Creation of all things... For it is that final union of Creator to Creation which is the goal of Creation and its beginning... Let Expectation begin for you again, or for the first

time, this day, and pray the same for me! ‘Unless you become as a little child...’ it is said, and here the reason why is clear. That the heart of Expectation is possible first to the child... May this heart be born in us also! Merry Christmas! [His Grace, The Right Reverend Bishop Seraphim, is a retired bishop of the Orthodox Church of Japan. Born in New York as Joseph Sigrist, he studied at St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary, Crestwood, NY, graduating in 1967. After graduating he travelled to Japan teaching English. He was ordained deacon and priest, later taking his monastic vows on October 18, 1969, where he received the name Seraphim. On December 18, 1971, he was consecrated Bishop of

Sendai and East Japan. He has taught Eastern Christianity and Arthurian studies at Drew University and has written several books, the most notable being Theology of Wonder (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1999). He currently resides in New York and participates in the liturgy of various parishes throughout the metropolitan area of New York. He is actively involved with youth and mission in Moscow known

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Gifts: A Meditation on the Matins of the Nativity of Christ
by Presbytera Eisodia Menis (Melbourne)
The Orthodox service of matins for the Nativity of Christ is abundantly filled with ecclesial theology on the Birth of Christ. It is resplendent with biblical references and connotations. In this article, I would like to travel through matins on a rather simpler level to gather some thoughts on the idea of gifts. Gift giving has become an integral part of our Christmas celebrations. What, however, are the most valuable gifts? Christ is born, meet him! Once more, I come to the Christ child and stand there agog. Shepherds stood amazed. Where is my gift? The magi bring their acceptable gifts and worship Him. Gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gold represents a gift to honour a king, frankincense is a fitting oblation for the Divine and myrrh for the Son of Man (who will die). Make a joyful noise unto the Lord (Psalm 65:1). The “little drummer boy”, in a carol of secular repute, has no gift to bring. He gives to the Lord what he himself has been given. He was given the talent to play the drum, so he plays the drum for the Lord. Have I used my talents wisely and generously? All things are filled with joy today; Christ is born of the Virgin. Am I filled with joy? Does it show? Do I understand the magnitude of this great wonder? God is mingled with the form of mortal man. Do I cry aloud with Adam “O You, who for my sake has become as I am, Holy are You, O Lord”? Wherein is my joy? My Lord of his own will has come forth, taking flesh from the Virgin, to purge the poison of the serpent’s head.
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Christ has raised us who were sunk in corruption and has released us from perdition of the adversary. Ought we not lift up our hands and clap them in songs of praise to honour Christ alone, our Benefactor Who in His compassion is come into our midst? I say again, Christ voluntarily comes to earth. We read in matins: How is He contained in a womb, whom nothing can contain? And how can He who is in the bosom of the Father be held in the arms of His Mother? This is according to His good pleasure, as He knows and wishes. For being without flesh, of His own will has He been made flesh; and He who is, for our sakes has become that which He was not. Without departing from His own nature he has shared in our substance. Desiring to fill the world on high with citizens, Christ has undergone a twofold birth. Do I give with a willing hand? Am I pleased to give with alacrity, without coercion or begrudging for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). Furthermore may my praises extend to the Theotokos (Mother of God) through whom we are reconciled to God for she brought forth God made man and she remained still a Virgin. Christ gifts travel the vertical axis both ways, to man and to God. Uniting the world to the immaterial essences, He has made the Father merciful to the creation. The people that before walked in darkness This day have seen a light from the beacon on high, The Son offers to God the nations as His inheritance.

Bestowing grace past telling Where sin once flourished abundantly. Angels sing praises without ceasing and shepherds in the fields offer fitting hymns. The earth offers a cave. Bethlehem has opened Eden so let us come to see it and to receive the things of Paradise that are in the cave. The star spreads the good news afar. What gift shall we bring? Through Germanos’s hymns in the matins, we offer You the wealth of our Orthodox faith, O God and Saviour of our souls. Through John the Monk’s hymn we offer Glory to God in the highest and pray for peace on earth and goodwill among men. Graciously accept, O Benefactor the praises of Your servants and establish Your singers firm and unshaken upon the foundations of the faith. Our prayer, our hope and our praise are justified, for when we go into the liturgy we hear St Paul remind us that we are no more servants, but sons and heirs of God through Christ. Being baptized in Christ, I have put on Christ. I wish to give Him my heart, my mind, and my soul so that He may abide in me and I in Him. Finally every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from Him, the Father of lights (James 1:17). Thanks be to God for all things.
Note: Words from matins in italics are based on The Festal Menaion translated from the original Greek by Mother Mary & Kallistos Ware, Faber & Faber, 1977.

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▌Isn’t it strange how a 20 dollar bill seems like such a large amount when you donate it to church, but such a small amount when you go shopping?

▌Isn’t it strange how difficult and boring it is to read one chapter of the Bible, but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular novel or ZANE GREY book?

learn, understand, extend and repeat gossip? ▌Isn’t it strange how we believe everything that magazines and newspapers say, but we question the words in the Bible? ▌Isn’t it strange how everyone wants a place in heaven, but they don’t want to believe, do, or say anything to get there? ▌Isn’t it strange how we send jokes in e-mails and they are forwarded right away, but when we are going to send messages about God, we think about it twice before we share it with others? [We thank Carolyn for sharing this with us. D.C.] into it, iron maiden style. They make the one like the other. That is off-the-mark. The highest law is one and both at once: a paradox.

▌Isn’t it strange how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts or games, but they do whatever is possible to sit at the last row in ▌Isn’t it strange how 2 hours seem Church? so long when you’re at church, and ▌Isn’t it strange how we need to how short they seem when you’re know about an event for Church 2watching a good movie? 3 weeks before the day so we can ▌Isn’t it strange that you can’t find include it in our agenda, but we a word to say when you’re praying, can adjust it for other events in the last minute? but you have no trouble thinking what to talk about with a ▌Isn’t it strange how difficult it is friend? to learn a fact about God to share it with others, but how easy it is to

Middle way
Anomalogue anomalogue/ USA

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13). No narrow path is narrow on one side only. Some people warn that the road is narrow, and that many fall off the left side into secularist pitymongering. They say there is no wading through the bottomless mud, even if you wanted to. They say everyone drowns on the left side – veer hard to the right. The others point to the dark ditch that lies on the right side of the road fuming with myrrh and rot and retribution. They say it is dark, but echoes sound the bottom, that a fall will break you – stay far on the left side. ***

“When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:34). When one law is said to be like another, both laws inter-define – the meanings converge and narrow. Imagine a Venn diagram: The first circle is the broadest interpretation of the first greatest commandment, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ The second circle is the broadest interpretation of second greatest commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ Where those two laws intersect, that is Christianity. Usually people pick the highest law they like, and crush the other

In the Kingdom of God one does not go from victory to victory, but for the most part from defeat to defeat – but those arrive who, after each defeat, instead of sitting down and mourning about it, stand up and go forward… St Tikhon of Zadonsk

editor: Rev. Doru Costache, PhD layout design: Ion Nedelcu (Bucharest) address: 64 Linthorn Ave, Croydon Park, NSW 2133. phone: (02) 9642 02 60 sfmaria_sydney
Parochial Life | november - december 2005 |