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FEAST OF THE THREE HOLY HIERARCHS

St. Basil the Great

The parents and grandparents of St. Basil the Great were distinguished patricians, influential and fearless champions of the holy faith. Basil's singular abilities and unusually keen mind, his insatiable desire for learning and his ample financial means, gave him access to the finest schools of learning and the most renowned professors of his time. The British historian, F. Farrar, describes St. Basil in this way: "His features and bearing, his slender form, his pale countenance, his keen eye, and grave manner—bore witness to his noble birth. The natural excellence of his character rendered his enemies shy, but attracted his friends. He was a born leader who by Christian humility overcame with   difficulty,   his   natural consciousness of his own superiority." (Lives of the Fathers, Vol. II).

The Servant of God Metropolitan Andrew Sheptytsky, O.S.B.M., in his introduction to the "Ascetical Works of Our Father St. Basil the Great" describes St. Basil thus: "Basil was a man who had acquired a well-rounded education in all branches of contemporary learning; he was an excellent orator, an unparalleled expert in Holy Scriptures, an eminent dogmatist and polemicist in his battle against the Arians."

St. Basil by nature was an ascetic and theologian. As the archbishop of Caesaria, he shone forth as a heroic defender of the holy faith an efficient organizer, excellent orator, distinguished writer, reformer of liturgical services, zealous protector of orphans and the poor, and an outstanding legislator of communal monastic life. Because of his merits, holy Church bestowed upon him the title "Great." Our Church recalls his memory on January 1st, the day of his death.

 

St. Gregory the Theologian

St. Gregory was named for his father who was a bishop in Nazianzen, in Cappadocia. Before he was even born, his pious mother, Nonna, made a vow to offer him up to the service of God. After he had grown to manhood, she gave him the Holy Bible, saying, "As I promised even before your birth, I now offer you to God; I beg you, therefore, to fulfill my desire. You were born as a result of my prayers. For this I now pray, that you be perfect. I entrust to you, my son, this precious treasure. Use it throughout your entire life, and in the future you shall receive still more blessings."

St. Gregory, like St. Basil, received a thorough education in the higher schools of learning. On his way to study in Athens, his ship was caught in a fierce storm at sea. At the time, he had not yet been baptized, and fearing lest he died without holy baptism, he made a vow that if he came out of the storm safely, he would consecrate himself to the service of God. In Athens, he met St. Basil and they became faithful friends and remained so throughout their entire lives. St. Gregory speaks briefly about their life in Athens: "We knew only two roads,- one to church to pray, the other to school to study."

His father ordained him to the priesthood, and later St. Basil appointed him Bishop of Sazima. St. Gregory was the Archbishop of Constantinople for several years.     He distinguished himself as a profound preacher; his sermons are pearls and masterpieces of sacred eloquence.   St. Gregory had great devotion to the Holy Trinity, regarding that dogma as the foundation of the Christian religion. Because of his deep knowledge of theology he received the title "the Theologian." In Byzantium, he was called the Christian Demosthenes.

St. Gregory was by nature quiet, tender sensitive and compassionate.   He always dreamed of a life of prayer and contemplation in solitude. As a writer he left sermons, poems and letters for posterity. He penned a sublime funeral oration in honor of his friend, St. Basil, and his father, Gregory. We celebrate the memory of his death on January 25.

 

St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom was born in Antioch and labored there for many years as a zealous priest and an untiring evangelist. Preaching was an inseparable part of his life and soul. "I cannot allow one day to go by," he said to his congregation,     "without    ; offering    you nourishment from the treasures of Holy Scripture. "Although he was frail, nevertheless, he seemed to acquire new strength every time he ascended the pulpit to preach. He himself speaks of this: "Preaching makes me healthy. As soon as I open my mouth, all fatigue leaves me." He captivated great throngs of people by his sermons. Most of his homilies were Scripture-oriented, and in these he beautifully explains many parts of both the Old and New Testaments. For his ardent and moving sermons he received the titled "Chrysostom-Golden Mouthed." St. John Chrysostom as priest and bishop was completely dedicated to his Church and to his faithful. He was a great friend and protector of the poor, widows and orphans. Because of his illustrious talents, he was raised to the archbishop's throne in the capital city of Constantinople.

St. John Chrysostom was a zealous and completely dedicated pastor, a magnificent speaker, and a great teacher of faith and morals. He left over 800 sermons, a book on the priesthood, and numerous letters. In our native land of Rus-Ukraine, during the period of the Kievan State, no other sermons were so widely known and read as his. The Collection of Prince Sviatoslav (1033) contains selections from the works of John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, Athanasius the great, Gregory of Nyssa and others. We celebrate the memory of St. John Chrysostom twice a year:

on November 13th, the day of his death, and on January 27th, the translation of his relics. (A Byzantine Rite Liturgical Year)



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