Living The Faith


  A look at the teachings of St. John Chrysostom

by Metropolitan Makarios of Toronto


Of all the Church Fathers, St. John Chrysostom was one of the most prolific writers.  He has left us a whole body of literature which he began to produce from the time he was a monastic.  St. .John was born in Antioch of Syria in the year 347 A.D.  His father being a military officer, St. John came from a wealthy family of the upper class.  Both his parents were Christians.  He was orphaned of his father when he was very young and his mother, whose name was Anthusa, devoted her life to rearing and educating her son.  She remained in her widowhood and spent vast sums to provide the best teachers and tutors for her only son.  St. John was educated in Antioch and did later studies in Athens.  At that time he met and became close friends with St. Basil, who was later to become Bishop of Caesarea and is known to us now as St. Basil the Great.


At the age of 18, as was the practice in those times, St. John was baptized and while he was studying in Athens, he and St. Basil made a pact that they would become monastics together.  When he returned to Antioch, he announced to his mother, much to her chagrin, that he intended to go into a monastery.  Like most mothers, she wept and she moaned and she groaned, pleading that he defer going into the monastery until she reposed.  He acquiesced to her wishes and it was then that he was attached to Bishop Meletius, the Patriarch of Antioch.  He was ordained as a reader and for two years he served the Church in this capacity.  When his mother reposed, he went into a monastery.  After four years in the monastery, he was given a blessing to go into the desert and there he remained for two years living in extreme asceticism.  During this period his health broke because of the rigors of the ascetic life and the strict fasting.  He returned to Antioch and was ordained to the deaconate by Bishop Meletius.


About that time, because there had been a great deal of warfare raised by the Arians, Bishop Meletius traveled to Constantinople to help in the appointment to the Patriarchate of St. Gregory the Great, also known to us as St. Gregory the Theologian.  While Bishop Meletius was in Constaninople, he reposed and upon learning that, St.  John returned to the monastery and remained there for three years.  The successor to Bishop Meletius was Bishop Flavian and he had a vision.  An angel appeared to him indicating that he should go to the monastery, take St. John from there, and ordain him to the priesthood.  On the following day, Bishop Flavian traveled to the monastery, announced to the community that he was going to take St.  John and ordain him a

priest for the Church in Antioch.


St. John was then ordained in Antioch and it was during this period that he became a preacher and began to instruct the people in the churches in that city.  He was so eloquent and brilliant in his sermons that they began to call him the "Golden-mouth", which is to say, "Chrysostom".  This came about because one day when he was speaking in the church, an illiterate woman who was listening to what he was saying, in her enthusiasm cried out and said, "O Golden-mouth!  The well of your knowledge and of your words is deep; but the rope of our minds is short and we cannot understand all the great and beautiful things you are telling us!"  It was then that St.  John determined that he would speak in a language more easily understood by the believers and though he remained eloquent, he changed the form of his homilies so that everyone could comprehend the meaning of his words.


During this time there was a tax revolt in the city of Antioch and the Antiochians, in their recklessness, overturned a statue of the Emperor, who at that time was Arcadius.  The fear that spread throughout the city following the uprising was so great that the citizens asked their Bishop to go to Constantinople to intercede on their behalf and to ask for forgiveness so that there would be no reprisals against them.  Bishop Flavian traveled to Constantinople to intercede for the city.  St. John, having been left in charge of the Church, immediately led all the Christians in intense prayers for it was the beginning of Great Lent.  This time proved to be one of the most compunctionate and contrite periods in the history of the Church of Antioch.  The people flocked to the churches and made fervent supplication that God would have mercy on them.  St. John used this opportunity to preach to the Christians against the cruelty, hypocrisy, superstition, and vices of the time.  He worked miracles of healing also and his fame spread through the city.  The Bishop returned on the Holy and Great Day of Pascha and announced to the city that they were forgiven.  It was a most joyous feast because all the citizens of the city, Christians and pagans alike, celebrated their reprieve together.


The fame of St. John had spread beyond the city of Antioch all the way to Constantinople and it was Arcadius the Emperor who ordered St. John to the queen of cities to become Patriarch when the then Patriarch had reposed.  On February 26 in the year 398, St. John, at the age of 51 years, was elevated to the Patriarchate. In his opening homily to the congregation in the Great Church, he specifically instructed the Emperor to stand fast saying that he, John the Patriarch and Archbishop of Constantinople, would reprove and instruct for the good of the Emperor's soul.  He preached about and gave instructions on how to lead a moral life and warned against the vices, the passions of the flesh, preoccupation with entertainments, the theatre, unwholesome spectacles, and cruelty and duplicity in the conducting of the affairs of the Empire.


As Patriarch, he established hospitals and provided for the poor and homeless.  He preached constantly to the upper classes and the wealthy to give alms and to have compassion for those less fortunate.  It was also at this time that he wrote the homilies explaining the Epistles of St. Paul, which we have to the present day.


From the very beginning, because St. John censured the activity of the wealthy, the Empress Eudoxia, the wife of Arcadius, who was known for her avarice, her conspiracies, her gossip, and her cruelty, worked constantly to turn the hierarchs, clergy, and laity against him.  She slandered him at every opportunity working for his removal.  She even tried to involve St. Epiphanius of Cyprus by inviting him to attend a council, the purpose of which was to depose the Patriarch.  Theophilus, who was then Patriarch of Alexandria, did come to Constantinople and did call a council and with trumped up charges, they deposed St. John.


It was at this time that the Empress Eudoxia accused St.  John of referring to her in a sermon as Jezebel and of slandering her by accusing her of avarice.  The council, although it was a false council, succeeded in deposing St.  John.  He was called to the council but refused to attend because he knew they would condemn him and judge against him.  The council prevailed upon the Emperor to send St. John into exile and this came to pass.


Soldiers were sent to the Cathedral to take the Patriarch away.  However, the supporters of St. John rallied and blockaded the entrance to the church.  There was a stand-off which lasted for three days.  St. John realized that there would be bloodshed on his account, so he quietly and secretly left the church surrendering to the soldiers and thereby avoiding what he thought would be a riot in the streets.  He was sent into exile to the city of Praenetum near Nicomedia in Bythinia.  When the supporters of the Patriarch realized that he had left and had been sent into exile, they did riot and there was bloodshed.  An earthquake then struck the city and part of the imperial palace collapsed as a result.


All those who were perceptive realized that this was an indication from God that He was not pleased with what had happened so St. John was called from exile.  He preached and governed the Church for only two months.  Just before the Feast of Pentecost, a statue of the Empress was overturned and again his old enemy Eudoxia blamed St.  John claiming he had incited the populace against her and was inciting popular discontent.  She again called another council to depose St.  John.  The Emperor sided with the Empress and under her influence sent orders to the church that St. John again leave and go into exile.  He refused and under military escort he was removed from the church and placed under house arrest.  After approximately two months he was secretly taken from the house and sent into exile.


A further sign was sent from God to show His displeasure and the injustice of that act.  A fire broke out in the church.  It did very little damage in the church itself, but it came out of the church and went as if it were one of those new missiles and traveled from building to palace and from palace to building to the dwellings of those who had opposed the Saint burning only those edifices.  The palace in which the council had been held which deposed him was burned completely.  Mysteriously, the fire went through the city avoiding many properties in its path but aiming itself directly at the properties of those who had opposed St. John.  The fire burned for three hours, from the sixth hour until the ninth hour (from noon until three in the afternoon),  and

though it was a fierce fire causing great destruction and havoc, miraculously there was no loss of life.  The supporters of St. John were accused of setting the fire and were rounded up by the forces of the Emperor and given over to the Governor of the city who was an idolater and a pagan.  He tortured many of them and they suffered a cruel death.


In the meantime, St. John was humiliated and tormented constantly by the soldiers who were escorting him into exile to the city of Cuscusus in lesser Armenia.  When they arrived, he was met by the Bishop of the city, Bishop Adelphus, who showed him hospitality and took care of him during his short stay.  When the Empress became aware that he had been offered hospitality while in his place of exile, because she was so vindictive, she ordered that he be sent further away to a place called Pityus which is located on the Black Sea.  As they traveled, they stopped at the city of Comana and stayed at the church of St. Basiliscus.  St.  Basiliscus had been a Bishop of that city and a martyr.  It was the forefeast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, the thirteenth of September, and St.  John asked to remain in that city to celebrate the feast. The soldiers refused saying that they had to keep traveling.  The next morning they set sail under favorable winds and conditions and traveled for three hours.  However, when they came into port, they were amazed to find themselves in the same city from whence they had departed!


St. John again asked that he be permitted to go into the church to celebrate the Liturgy for the Elevation of the Holy Cross and the soldiers, understanding that God had intervened, permitted it.  He went into the church and asked to wear the Paschal vestments.  Thus adorning himself in white, he celebrated the Divine Liturgy and received the Holy Mysteries.  At the conclusion of the Service, knowing that his end was at hand, he lay down and uttered those now famous words, "Glory be to God for all things!" Thus he fell asleep reposing quietly after all the humiliation and

difficulties of the journey.


Just as had been prophesied by St. Epiphanius, he never did reach the place of his final exile.  When St. Epiphanius had come to Constantinople, he had violated the canons because he had ordained a deacon in the diocese of Constantinople and had celebrated the Divine Liturgy without the permission of St.  John who was the Bishop, moreover, he refused to accept any hospitality from the Patriarch.  There was an exchange of letters and St. John prophesied, "Because you have done these things, you will not see your Cathedral again." And so it came to pass that on his return to Cyprus, St. Epiphanius reposed in the boat as it was approaching the harbour in Cyprus.  When St. John gave that prophecy to St. Epiphanius, he returned a prophecy and said to St. John, "and you shall not arrive at the final destination of your exile!" That prophecy was fulfilled because before they reached Pityus on the Black Sea, St. John reposed at Comana.  His body was interred there for some thirty-two years.


During these thirty-two years there occurred a constant and ominous rumbling in the tomb of the Empress Eudoxia who had also died.  She had come to a very bad end due to her persecution of the Saint.  Before her death, her flesh became putrid and brought forth a stench and she died evilly.  When she was entombed, the tomb shook as if an earthquake were in the area and this continued for thirty-two years until the relics of St. John were brought back triumphantly to Constantinople on the twenty-seventh of January in the year 438 A.D.


St. John had served for six years as Patriarch of Constantinople, three of which were in exile.  His followers had witnessed his end and after they were released from Comana, they went to Rome and told their story to Pope Innocent who then excommunicated Arcadius and Eudoxia for their conduct and their actions.  Arcadius responded to the excommunication, repented, and was able to receive Holy Communion before he died.  Eudoxia, however, was unrepentant and died evilly.  In the year 438 A.D., as we have said, during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius II, who

was the son of Arcadius, the relics of St.  John were returned to Constantinople.  The day they were returned remains as a feast day on the calendar of the Church.


Thus, we have an idea of the life of St. John Chrysostom.  He delivered most of his homilies while he was a priest in Antioch; the remaining were given while he was Patriarch in Constantinople. In reading the homilies of St. John and his commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul as well as the commentaries on the Evangelists John and Matthew, we are struck by the relevancy of those writings to today's times.  Therefore, I thought it might be appropriate to review some of the things that St. John said in his homilies to see how they apply so directly and so dramatically to today.


I will draw primarily from his Baptismal Instructions, which are a series of discourses written for those who were preparing to be baptized.  These are instructions concerning the daily moral conduct of Christians rather than theological explanations of Church dogma.  They deal mainly with what it means to be baptized and to become a Christian and they explain how once we are made part of the Body of Christ, there must be a change in the way in which we conduct our lives.


He instructs the men in particular, first choosing to use our Saviour's words, "Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart and you shall find rest for your soul."  It is with these words that he instructs the Christians telling them that what is needed and what our Saviour Himself asks of us is to imitate the Master's meekness.  We are not to lose our temper or to be roused in anger against our neighbor or family members.  St. John says," such a man will scorn all glory of this present life.  Nothing of the visible world will win him over to itself for from now on he will see things through different eyes.  The man who is humble of heart will never be able to envy his neighbour's possessions.  He will not steal nor will he commit fraud.  He will not yearn for wealth, but while showing great compassion for his kindred, he will even forsake the wealth he does have.  Such a man will not undermine another's marriage since he has come under the yoke of Christ and has learned to be meek and humble of heart.  He will follow in the steps of the Master and manifest every virtue in every way.


"Let us, therefore, come under the yoke which is good and lift up the burden which is light that we too may be able to find rest. He who has come under this yoke ought to forget his old way of life and to keep a close watch over his eyes.  The Master says that anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  We must put a guard on our eyes that death may not enter through them.  We must keep a sharp watch not only over our eyes but over our tongues as well.  It is written that many have fallen by the edge of the sword but not so many as have fallen by the tongue.  As the other passions come to birth, we must curb them and make our minds tranquil.  We must banish anger, passion, grudges, enmity, malice, evil desires, all licentiousness, and all the works of the flesh, which, according to St. Paul, are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, witchcraft, enmities, contentions, jealousies, drunkenness.


It is fitting to force out of our souls all these vices and to be eager to acquire the fruits of the Spirit, namely, charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, modesty, and continence.  If we purify our minds by constantly chanting the lessons of piety, we shall henceforth be able, by preparing ourselves beforehand, to make ourselves worthy to receive His gift, great as it is, and to guard the good things that are given.  This then is the instruction given to us, to banish from ourselves the passions and the vices, and it is hard work."


Next, he gives the instructions for the women.  Here he says: "Let there be no concern for external embellishments and expensive clothing, but let all your zeal be directed toward making your souls comely that they may shine forth with a bright beauty.  Pay no attention to garments made from the silkworm's thread nor to necklaces of gold for the teacher of the whole world who knew full well the weakness of women's nature and the unsteadiness of their wills did not hesitate to issue orders on these matters.  Why do I say he did not refuse to instruct you about these matters?  While giving counsel to you women on your adornments, did he not cry out, `not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothing!' Is not this all but an instruction concerning your desire to adorn yourselves and to win praise from those who behold you?


"I shall call not only on your fellow human beings, but on the Master of all things to praise and honour you since Paul has spurned the adornment for women which depends on braided hair and

gold ornaments and pearls and expensive clothing.  See now with what raiment he does adorn them.  For even if the golden ornaments and clothes with which a woman adorns herself bring a brief delight to her who wears them, are they not worn out after a while?  Why do I say they are worn out?  Even before time wears them out, they excite the eyes of the envious and turn the hands of the villainous to theft; but the raiment with which Paul adorns women can neither be stolen nor does it wear out.  It lasts forever abiding with us here, going along with us hereafter.  It provides us with confidence in abundance.


We must, however, hear the exact words of the Apostle.  What then does he say?  `But with good works such as become women professing godliness' do deeds worthy of your profession.  You profess godliness so do what is pleasing to Him, that is, good deeds.  What is this phrase, `with good deeds'?  He means the whole collection of virtues; scorn of this world, yearning for the world to come, disdain for riches, generosity to the poor, modesty, meekness, pursuit of wisdom, disposing our souls in peace and serenity, not cringing before the glory of this present life but keeping our gaze ever straining upwards so that we are ever anxious for the things of Heaven and desire the glory hereafter.


"Since I am now speaking to the women, I wish to make certain other recommendations to them.  I wish you women to abstain not only from other hurtful practices but also from the habit of painting your faces and adding to them as if the workmanship were defective.  By doing so, you insult the workman, God.  For what are you trying to do, woman?  By using rouge and eyeshadow you cannot add to your natural beauty nor change your natural ugliness.  These add nothing to your beauty of face, but they will destroy the beauty of your soul for this meddling with nature testifies to your interior weakness.  Especially, are you heaping up abundant fire for yourself by exciting the looks of young men and attracting to yourselves the eyes of the undisciplined thus making complete adulterers of them.  You are bringing their downfall upon your own head.  It is fitting and helpful to abstain from these practices entirely, but if those women who are caught in the grip of this evil habit should be unwilling to give up the use of cosmetics, at least let them not use them when they are coming to the House of Prayer.


"Why, tell me, when you come to church, do you adorn yourself in this way?  You have come to worship God and to make confession to Him in atonement for your sins.  Does He look for this beauty? No!  He seeks the beauty from within.  He looks for the activity which expresses itself in good deeds.  He desires almsgiving, temperance, compunction, and strict Faith.  But you have forsaken these virtues.  You are trying to trip up as many of the careless ones as you can, even in the Church.  By what thunderbolts do such actions deserve to be punished.  You arrive in port and cause your own shipwreck.  You came to the physician to have your wounds cured and you go away after making them worse.  What pardon will there be for you hereafter?  If some women in the past were so careless of their own salvation, now at least let them be persuaded to rid themselves of this outrageous practice.  If the Apostle forbids the use of expensive clothing, how much more would he forbid the use of cosmetics?"


This is indeed instruction for our time for we see how much attention especially our young people spend in adorning themselves to be attractive outwardly rather than attending to that inner

beauty of soul which cannot be taken away and for which we will attain the Kingdom of Heaven.  It is simplicity, modesty, and humility that God seeks and not the artificial which is produced by cosmetics and adornments.


St. John goes on to admonish against the entertainments of the day and preoccupation with theatre and sports events which take us away from the Church with its Services and prayers and from the practice of modesty and sobriety which are the characteristics of the Christian.  This is that meekness and humility of heart and that tranquillity of the soul that identify the true Christian.


We ourselves who live in times given over to entertainments, amusements, and the pleasures of the flesh are particularly admonished by our Father among the Saints, John Chrysostom.  I ask you to remember that this was written at least 1500 years ago and yet it sounds amazingly as though it were written just last week. This is because what was true then is true now and I do not believe that we are any worse than the people of Constantinople or the citizens of Antioch.  I admonish and call to your attention that the instruction to be modest and to be sober is within the

tradition and from the Fathers of the Church.  It is not a recent invention of some monks or hierarchs of the later times.  These traits are characteristic of the true Christian and these precepts

are given to us from Apostolic and early Christian times.


After he has exhorted us to be modest and to seek that humility of heart and meekness within, St. John goes on to instruct us in our combat against the devil for that is our business and that is our warfare.  It is with the devil that we contend.  St. John says, "Despair not! Because God through Christ has not abandoned us to the devil to fight and to conduct this war in an unbalanced way; but rather He Himself is on our side and He has provided us with armour for the warfare."  He says, "it is a new kind of armour since it is a new kind of combat.  Although I am a man, I must aim my blow at demons.  Although clad in flesh, my struggle is with incorporeal powers.  On this account, God has made my breastplate not from metal, but from justice.  He has prepared for me a shield which is made not of bronze but of Faith.  I have as well a sharp sword, the word of the Spirit.  The devil shoots darts at me, but I have this sword.  He is an archer, but I am a heavily armed soldier.  We are not then abandoned by our Saviour but are provided with the virtues in order to combat and to contest against the enemy.  In addition to this armour, the virtues, He provides us with an extremely powerful weapon and that is the Body and Blood of Christ Himself.  Furthermore, He has provided us with an inheritance, the Church; and the Church, which is our fortress, strengthens us in our contest against the enemy.


“St. John the Theologian says that when Christ was dead but still on the Cross, the soldiers came and pierced His side with a lance and straightway there came out water and blood.  The former was a symbol of Baptism, the latter, a symbol of the Holy Mysteries.  Therefore, he did not say there came out blood and water, but that first water came forth and then blood since first comes Baptism and then the Mysteries."


We have then this mighty weapon.  Through Baptism we are grafted and made part of the Body of Christ, the Church; and through the Holy Mysteries we take into ourselves the very Body and Blood of Christ.  We become the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit to assist us in our contest against the enemy.  St. John Chrysostom goes on to say: "Beloved, do not pass this Mystery by without a

thought for I have still another mystical explanation to give.  I said that there was a symbol of Baptism and the Mysteries in that water and blood.  It is from both of these that the Church is sprung through the bath of regeneration and renewal through the Holy Spirit.  The symbol of Baptism and the Mysteries comes from the side of Christ.  It is from His side, therefore, that Christ formed His Church just as He formed Eve from the side of Adam."


These are thoughts to contemplate fully because there are those who would tell us that all the churches are the same; but the Church is from the Body of Christ and there was but one wound in

that Body.  The Church is one and indivisible.  Those who would say that the Church is here or there are wrong and St. John the Theologian gives very strong testimony against those ideas.  As young Orthodox Christians, do not be deluded.  Do not be deceived. Do not fall into the trap of those who would have you think that there is truth elsewhere other than in the Orthodox Church.  This is an extremely unpopular notion in today's world for all the so- called theologians of our time contest and contend that the Church is emerging, that there are truths here and there and that they are negotiable, that there are doctrines here and there and that they can be reconciled, and that it is the duty of each to tolerate the other and to look for truths and synthesize the truths from these various places.  That is false, wrong, and totally corrupt.  We stand alone in these times and because we are a small Synod with few people, there are those who would try to have us feel inferior. They say we are deluded, deceived, and prejudiced - this is not so - because we hold that only in the Orthodox Church is truth found and we stand fast in our confession of the Faith, on the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils, on the canons of the Church, and on the practices as given to us by our Fathers.


In recent days I have had several conversations with people, some from our own congregation, many from outside the congregation who have come to speak privately with me.  Essentially, every one of them has said that we are not facing reality, that we are not dealing with our times.  They try to give us the impression that we are outdated by much more than thirteen days!  I confront them by asking, "Can we compromise and adjust the truth?  What would you have us do?  Our obligation is to hold the truths given us and not to bend the teachings of the Church and not to comply with what people want.  We are not a popular movement."  I was even told by one new calendarist that by taking such a stand we will lose our young people.  To this I replied, "Do you really believe you have the young people in your church where you have provided all the comforts, where you have shortened the Services and have all but eliminated the fasts, where you give very little real spiritual instruction and the Sacrament of Confession is almost unknown, where you provide cushioned seats in an air-conditioned atmosphere, and where you have community centres with all kinds of facilities including basketball courts and soccer fields?  In spite of all this, do you really have the youth of your church?"


He looked at me straight in the eye and said, "No, I really do not think we have."  And I said, "What you have also lost more importantly is the Faith because with all your innovations and gimmicks, you have failed.  If we fail, it is not because of our doing and even if we succeed, it is not of our doing.  It is the work of the Holy Spirit, of God Himself.  But you, with all your youth groups and departments of laity and commissions, have accomplished very little."  He admitted to me that they have fallen woefully short even though they have tried to keep pace with the times.


It is not our objective to keep pace with the times for we are called out of the world and to follow the teachings of our Saviour. We know that it is not popular.  We know that it is a struggle and if we come to that realization and determine to struggle, then we will attain salvation.  The Church exists to help you attain salvation.  It is not a centre for entertainment or activities that you can find elsewhere, recreational, social, or whatever.  Our struggle is to retain the Church and to fight all temptation to have it become something other than the Eucharistic centre that it is, a place for the Holy Mysteries, for the preaching of the word of God and for the sanctification of souls.


We are faced in this society with temptations to adapt.  Since my coming to Toronto, I have observed and heard many things which  concern me because I see there is a tendency to live one life when we come to the church and a different one outside.  I am particularly concerned when I hear that many of the young people fall into the temptations of socializing on Saturday nights considering it to be "date night" or "the night out on the town" and that like most young Canadians regardless of their religious affiliation, they frequent the pubs and the bars and the discos. Saturday night is the day of preparation for the Lord's Day when the Christians are exhorted if they are not able to attend the Vesper Services, at least to remain at home quietly preparing for Holy Communion, reading and studying the writings of the Church. But many of us have taken on the ways of the world, of the Babylonian captivity and the ways of the Egyptians.  We have not turned away from the allurements of the world but rather given ourselves over to the world wholeheartedly.


I have been told that at functions like the wedding, which for us is a Mystery to be celebrated with hymns and prayers and chants, we do things with garters and other foolishness, totally unbecoming the conduct of Christians and totally unbecoming the celebration of a Mystery of the Church.  How we can give ourselves over to this dichotomy, to this schizophrenia, coming to the church in modesty and then giving ourselves over to debauchery later!  These are grievous practices and I ask and beseech each of you as you plan your social activities that you remain modest, lowly of heart and meek and that you not join in with those temptations and allurements of the current day.  They will lead to destruction, to your destruction.  It is not a matter of satisfying our parents or doing what the priest or Bishop asks, it is for your own salvation and for your own enlightenment that we beseech and exhort you to lead a life of modesty and sobriety, redeeming the time for the days are evil.


Do not say you are a victim of peer pressure for you have a consolation.  You have an ark like Noah.  The ark is the Church. The consolation is found in the Church.  If you are tempted to look

at pornography, turn rather to the icons.  If you are tempted to listen to rock, listen to the tapes of the chants of the Church. If you really listen to them, you will realize what nonsense the other music of the world is.  I know you will try to justify yourselves.  I know that you will say that these are the times and that you do not want to be any different from anyone else, but, if you resist and avail yourself of the defense and those weapons provided by the Church, you will find amazingly how God will protect you from the influence and ridicule of others.  I exhort all of you as St. John has instructed us, first and above all to be meek and lowly of heart, to live and pursue the spiritual life, to crave and strive after the inner beauty of the soul, and to keep in mind at all times that your destiny is to save your soul, the most precious thing that you have, in order to attain to the day of judgement and to join in the Kingdom of Heaven which is provided for the Saints of the Church by our God Who loves and provides for us and to Whom is due honour and glory and worship now and ever and unto the ages of ages, Amen.