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St. John’s sermons.


The features of St. John in church would not be complete if nothing were said about his sermons. At the end of Divine Liturgy, during the singing of "Blessed be the Name of the Lord," or post-communion prayer, St. John, picking up the small altar Gospel, would usually walk out to the ambo, read a few verses, and explain them in simple and clear words, calling all worshippers to a truly virtuous life. Many of St. John’s sermons have been published. They are unpretentious. In them the Word of God speaks by itself, as it were, clothing itself in accompanying explanations, drawing their meaning closer to the understanding of the faithful. Much is to be gained from their reading, but this is far from imparting the force of action of the living word, as it was spoken by St. John himself from the ambo. It literally burnt, turning people to the path of salvation — penetrating the most hardened sinners. Every preconception would vanish, every hostility was disarmed, every doubt evaporated in front of St. John, opening up the meaning of evangelical simplicity, which (words) found incarnation in him himself and were ready to be transformed into a miraculous force, witnessed by these very words...

Metropolitan Meletius, recalling his visit to St. John in 1901, on the verge of Great Lent, recounted a sermon, delivered by St. John on Final Judgement Sunday. ‘This sermon was unforgettable. In it there was such conviction, such exact knowledge of what he was saying that, when, in describing the Final Judgement, he suddenly said to the people: ‘You know that’s how it is; that is exactly the way it is going to be,’ all were filled with apprehension. That tone of voice, these prophetic words — impossible to forget."

Similar insertions, involuntarily arising from the very heart, and producing an especially deep impression, at times simply shook his listeners, and at the same time singularly brought the reader or speaker nearer to the worshippers. The same Metropolitan Meletius told of an earlier visit by him to St. John, in May 1899, when he was present during St. John’ services on the feast of SS. Constantine and Helena. At Matins, St. John, naturally, read the canon. "He read so fervently and inspiredly, as though he were speaking on his own and from the bottom of his heart, with conviction pronouncing the written words. He stopped a couple of times, as if lost in thought for a second, and immediately confidently exclaimed: Yes, that’s how it is, that’s how it is.’"

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