Tag Archives: Saint John the Wonderworker

Life after Death, Homily by Saint John the Wonderworker

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Limitless and without consolation would have been our sorrow for close ones who are dying, if the Lord had not given us eternal life. Our life would be pointless if it ended with death. What benefit would there then be from virtue and good deed? Then they would be correct who say: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” But man was created for immortality, and by His resurrection Christ opened the gates of the Heavenly Kingdom, of eternal blessedness for those who have believed in Him and have lived righteously. Our earthly life is a preparation for the future life, and this preparation ends with our death. “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27). Then a man leaves all his earthly cares; the body disintegrates, in order to rise anew at the General Resurrection. Often this spiritual vision begins in the dying even before death, and while still seeing those around them and even speaking with them, they see what others do not see.

But when it leaves the body, the soul finds itself among other spirits, good and bad. Usually it inclines toward those which are more akin to it in spirit, and if while in the body it was under the influence of certain ones, it will remain in dependence upon them when it leaves the body, however unpleasant they may turn out to be upon encountering them.

For the course of two days the soul enjoys relative freedom and can visit places on earth which were dear to it, but on the third day it moves into other spheres. At this time (the third day), it passes through legions of evil spirits which obstruct its path and accuse it of various sins, to which they themselves had tempted it. According to various revelations there are twenty such obstacles, the so-called “toll-houses,” at each of which one or another form of sin is tested; after passing through one the soul comes upon the next one, and only after successfully passing through all of them can the soul continue its path without being immediately cast into gehenna. How terrible these demons and their toll-houses are may be seen in the fact that Mother of God Herself, when informed by the Archangel Gabriel of Her approaching death, answering Her prayer, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself appeared from heaven to receive the soul of His Most Pure Mother and conduct it to heaven. Terrible indeed is the third day for the soul of the departed, and for this reason it especially needs prayers then for itself.

Then, having successfully passed through the toll-houses and bowed down before God, the soul for the course of 37 more days visits the heavenly habitations and the abysses of hell, not knowing yet where it will remain, and only on the fortieth day is its place appointed until the resurrection of the dead.  Some souls find themselves (after the forty days) in a condition of foretasting eternal joy and blessedness, and others in fear of the eternal torments which will come in full after the Last Judgment. Until then changes are possible in the condition of souls, especially through offering for them the Bloodless Sacrifice (commemoration at the Liturgy), and likewise by other prayers.

How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring with me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents” — and he gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria). “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”

Therefore, panikhidas (i.e., Trisagion Prayers for the Dead) and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial to them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose. In the Church prayers are ever offered for the repose of the dead, and on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, in the kneeling prayers at vespers, there is even a special petition “for those in hell.”

Every one of us who desires to manifest his love for the dead and give them real help, can do this best of all through prayer for them, and particularly by commemorating them at the Liturgy, when the particles which are cut out for the living and the dead are let fall into the Blood of the Lord with the words: “Wash away, O Lord, the sins of those here commemorated by Thy Precious Blood and by the prayers of Thy saints.” We can do nothing better or greater for the dead than to pray for them, offering commemoration for them at the Liturgy. Of this they are always in need, and especially during those forty days when the soul of the deceased is proceeding on its path to the eternal habitations. The body feels nothing then: it does not see its close ones who have assembled, does not smell the fragrance of the flowers, does not hear the funeral orations. But the soul senses the prayers offered for it and is grateful to those who make them and is spiritually close to them.

O relatives and close ones of the dead! Do for them what is needful for them and within your power. Use your money not for outward adornment of the coffin and grave, but in order to help those in need, in memory of your close ones who have died, for churches, where prayers for them are offered. Show mercy to the dead, take care of their souls. Before us all stands the same path, and how we shall then wish that we would be remembered in prayer! Let us therefore be ourselves merciful to the dead. As soon as someone has reposed, immediately call or inform a priest, so he can read the Prayers appointed to be read over all Orthodox Christians after death. Try, if it be possible, to have the funeral in Church and to have the Psalter read over the deceased until the funeral. Most definitely arrange at once for the serving of the forty-day memorial, that is, daily commemoration at the Liturgy for the course of forty days. (NOTE: If the funeral is in a church where there are no daily services, the relatives should take care to order the forty-day memorial wherever there are daily services.) It is likewise good to send contributions for commemoration to monasteries, as well as to Jerusalem, where there is constant prayer at the holy places. Let us take care for those who have departed into the other world before us, in order to do for them all that we can, remembering that “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

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Akathist to the Holy Hierarch Saint John the Wonderworker

stjohnwonderworker

If reading alone, say first the following prayers:

https://orthodoxfiles.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/order-for-reading-akathists-alone/

Kontakion I

Chosen wonderworker and superb servant of Christ, who pourest out in the latter times inexhaustible streams of inspiration and multitude of miracles. We praise Thee which love, and call out to Thee:
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Ikos I

An angel in the flesh wast Thou manifested in the latter times by the grace of God Who ever careth for men. Seeing the beauty of Thy virtues, we Thy children now cry out to Thee:
Rejoice, Thou who didst live in virtue from earliest childhood.
Rejoice, Thou who didst ever live in fear of God and do His holy will.
Rejoice, Thou who didst manifest the grate of God in numberless virtues.
Rejoice, Thou who didst mystically hear the distant prayers of those in distress.
Rejoice, Thou who wast filled with love for Thy fellow men and didst do all possible for their salvation.
Rejoice, Thou who dost bring joy to all who pray to Thee in faith and love.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 2
Seeing the abundance and variety of Thy virtues. O holy Hierarch, we see in Thee a living source of God’s wonders in our time. Thou dost refresh with Thy love and miracles all who cry in faith to God: Alleluia.

Ikos 2

Being filled with love. Thou wast also filled with theology. O holy Father. And in Thee the knowledge of God flowed forth again in love for suffering men. Do Thou teach us also know the true God in love as we call out to Thee in admiration.
Rejoice. firm stronghold of Orthodox truth
Rejoice. precious vessel of the gifts of the Holy Spirit
Rejoice. righteous accuser of impiety and false doctrine
Rejoice ardent doer of the commandments of God
Rejoice. severe ascetic who gavest thyself no repose
Rejoice, loving shepherd of the flock of Christ
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 3

By God’s mercy Thou wast manifest as a father to orphans and instructor of the young, raising them in the fear of God and preparing them for the service of God. Therefore all Thy children look to Thee with love and cry out with gratitude to God:
Alleluia.

Ikos 3

Dwellers in heaven should be praising Thee and not we on earth, for our words are feeble beside Thy deeds. Yet offering to God what we have we cry out to Thee thus:
Rejoice Thou who didst protect Thy children by Thy constant prayer.
Rejoice Thou who didst ever guard Thy flock by the sign of the Cross.
Rejoice, Thou whose love knew no bounds of country or race
Rejoice, bright luminary beloved by all.
Rejoice, model of spiritual meekness.
Rejoice, giver of spiritual consolation to those in need.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 4

Bewildered by Thy deeds of piety and love, we know not how to praise Thee worthily, O Hierarch John. Thou didst travel to the ends of the earth to save Thy people and preach the gospel to those in darkness. Thanking God for Thine apostolic labors, we cry out to Him:
Alleluia.

Ikos 4

The people of many lands beheld Thy life and marveled at God’s mercies even in these latter times. And so we also, marveling, cry out in awe:
Rejoice, enlightener of those in the darkness of unbelief.
Rejoice, Thou who didst follow Thy people to the farthest East and West.
Rejoice, fountain of miracles poured out by God.
Rejoice, Ioving chastiser of those who have gone astray.
Rejoice, speedy comfort to those who repent of their sins.
Rejoice, support of those who go on the right path.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 5

Thou wast manifest as a vehicle of God s power to stop the destructive forces of fallen nature, O holy Hierarch, preserving Thy people on the island from the deadly wind and storm by Thy prayer and the sign of the Cross, So preserve us also who cry our in wonder unto God:
Alleluia.

Ikos 5

All who have trusted in Thy help in desperate circumstances and adversities have found deliverance, O bold intercessor before the Throne of God. Therefore, we too do place our hope in Thee to protect us in dangers by Thy prayers before God as we call out to Thee:
Rejoice, Thou who didst stop the powers of nature from doing harm to Thy flock.
Rejoice, Thou who providest by Thy prayer for all in need.
Rejoice, inexhaustible bread for the hungry.
Rejoice, abundant wealth for those who live in poverty.
Rejoice, consolation for those in sorrow.
Rejoice, quick uplifting for those Who have fallen.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 6

Thou wast manifest as a new Moses, leading his flock out of slavery, O Hierarch John. Do deliver us also from slavery to sins and the enemies of God as we cry out to God:
Alleluia.

Ikos 6

Thou didst do the impossible and persuade the authorities of this world to have pity on Thy flock, O good shepherd. Do pray for us now that we may live in peace and quiet, saving our souls as we gratefully cry to Thee:
Rejoice, helper of all who call upon Thee in faith.
Rejoice, Thou who deliverest from death and disaster.
Rejoice, Thou who preservest from lies and slander.
Rejoice, preserver of the innocent from bonds.
Rejoice, Thou who foilest the attacks of the unrighteous.
Rejoice, destroyer of lies and exalter of truth.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 7

O lover of the saints of East and West, Thou didst restore to the Orthodox Church the saints of the West, of lands which had fallen away from the truth. Now with these saints Thou dost pray for us to God as we on earth cry out to God:
Alleluia.

Ikos 7

O fervent venerator of the holy Hierarchs of Gaul, Thou wast manifest in the latter times as one of them, exhorting Thy flock to preserve the same Orthodox faith that they confessed, and astonishing the peoples of the West by Thy holy life. Now preserve us in that same faith as we cry out to Thee:
Rejoice, new Martin by Thy miracles and ascetic feats.
Rejoice, new Germanus by Thy confession of the Orthodox faith.
Rejoice, new Hilary by Thy divine theology.
Rejoice, new Gregory by Thy love for God’s saints.
Rejoice, new Faustus by Thy gentle love and monastic fervor.
Rejoice, new Caesarius by Thy firm yet loving rule of the Church of God.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter Times .

Kontakion 8

At the end of Thy life, O holy Hierarch, Thou wast called to the New World, to offer there Thy witness of ancient Christianity and to suffer persecution for Thy righteousness, thus perfecting Thy soul for heaven. Now marveling at Thy patience and long-suffering, we all cry out to God:
Alleluia.

Ikos 8

O laborer of Christ’s vineyard who knew no rest even at the end of Thy much-toiling life, help us now in our labors as we strive to be faithful to Christ, crying out in praise to Thee:
Rejoice, Thou who didst endure to the end and so attain salvation
Rejoice, Thou who wast deemed worthy to die before the icon the Mother of God.
Rejoice, Thou who didst keep Thy faith and courage in the midst of unjust persecution.
Rejoice. Thou who didst labor to the end for Thy flock and meet death sitting as a hierarch.
Rejoice Thou Who didst return through the air to be buried amidst the flock.
Rejoice Thou who workest Wonders for those who come to Thy Sepulchre with faith and love.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 9

All angel-kind rejoiced at Thy soul’s ascent to their celestial home marveling at the wonders Thou didst perform on earth through the action of the Holy Spirit. to whom we sing:
Alleluia.

Ikos 9

Orators find it impossible to describe Thy life of sanctity with their many and eloquent words, O righteous John for Thou didst become a living house for the power of the ineffable God. Yet, unable to fall silent at the wonder shown to our age of feeble faith, we glorify Thee:
Rejoice, divine palace where from the counsel of the Good King is given.
Rejoice, small and humble abode containing the spacious beauty of angels mansions.
Rejoice Thou who didst gain a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Rejoice, infirmary wherein all manner of diseases are divinely healed.
Rejoice closet wherein Thy holy labor of prayer was hidden.
Rejoice, blessed temple of the Holy Spirit.
Rejoice O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 10

Wishing to save the world, the Saviour of all hath sent a new saint among us and through him hath called us out of the dark recesses of sin. Hearing this call to repentance, the unworthy ones in turn cry out to God:
Alleluia.

Ikos 10

Thou art a wall sheltering us from adversity, O Hierarch John, for through Thy heavenly intercessions we are delivered from the attacks of demonic passions and from afflictions which beset us on earth. Before Thy firm support of prayer, we cry with faith:
Rejoice, sight to the blinded.
Rejoice, strength and life to those on the bed of death.
Rejoice, God-revealed advice to those in doubt and confusion.
Rejoice, refreshing water to those perishing in the heat of sorrow .
Rejoice, Ioving father to the lonely and abandoned.
Rejoice, holy teacher of those who seek the Truth.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 11

Thy life was a hymn to the Most Holy Trinity, surpassing others in thought, word and deed, O most blessed John. For with much wisdom Thou didst explain the precepts of the true Faith, reaching us to sing with faith, hope and love to the one God in Trinity:
Alleluia.

Ikos 11

We see Thee as a radiant lamp of Orthodoxy amidst the darkness of ignorance, O God-chosen pastor of Christ’s flock, our Father John, For even after Thy repose Thou dost speak the truth to the ignorant and give instruction to those who seek guidance and to all who cry to Thee:
Rejoice, radiance of divine wisdom to those in ignorance. Rejoice, rainbow of quiet joys for the meek.
Rejoice, thunder to stubborn sinners.
Rejoice, lightning of the zeal of God.
Rejoice, rain of God’s dogmas.
Rejoice, shower of theological thoughts.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 12

Grace hath been poured out in the last days upon us a11. Beholding this grace come forth from a holy hierarch who once did walk among us, let us receive it with reverence and thanksgiving, crying to God:
Alleluia.

Ikos 12

Singing in praise to God, the heavenly choir of saints rejoiceth that He hath not forsaken the fallen and unbelieving world, but hath manifested His almighty power in Thee, his meek and humble servant. O blessed John, with all the saints we greet Thee and give honor to Thee:
Rejoice, new star of righteousness shining in heaven s firmament.
Rejoice, new prophet who wast sent before the final unleashing of evil.
Rejoice, new Jonah warning all of the wages of sin.
Rejoice, new Baptist drawing all to a life of prayer and repentance.
Rejoice, new Paul suffering to preach the gospel in the spirit of truth,
Rejoice, new apostle whose miracles instill in us faith and awe.
Rejoice, O holy Hierarch John, wonderworker of the latter times.

Kontakion 13

O holy and most wondrous Hierarch John, consolation for all the sorrowing, accept now our prayerful offering that through Thy prayers to our Lord we may be spared gehenna and by Thy God-pleasing intercession we may cry eternally: Alleluia!

(Thrice)

(Repeat Ikos 1 and then Kontakion 1)