Apr. 19 Our Venerable Father John of the Ancient Caves

Bulletin as of April 18 2024

Our venerable father John of the Ancient Caves is so called because he lived in the Lavra of St. Chariton during the eighth century. This was called the “Old,” or ancient cave, since it was one of the oldest of the Palestinian monasteries. The Lavra was situated not far from Bethlehem, near the Dead Sea. In his early years, St. John went to venerate the holy places of Jerusalem, and settled at the Lavra, where he labored in fasting, vigil, and prayer. He was ordained to the holy priesthood, and glorified by his ascetic life.


In you, O holy father John, the faithful image of God shone forth, for you carried your cross and followed Christ. You taught by your deeds how to spurn the body, for it passes away; and how to value the soul, for it is immortal. Therefore, your soul is forever in happiness with the angels.  


You gave up food, wealth, and fame, and you lived as a wander in the deserts. You withered your body by your abstinence, and with courage you passed your life in silence. For this we sing to you, O venerable model of virtue: Beg Christ our God to forgive the sins of those who lovingly cherish your memory. 


Acts 8:40 & 9: 1-19a

In those days, Philip found himself at Azotus next, and he went about announcing the good news in all the towns until he reached Caesarea. Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus which would empower him to arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, living according to the new way. As he traveled along and was approaching Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed about him. He fell to the ground and at the same time heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, sir?” Saul asked. The voice answered, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Get up and go into the city, where you will be told what to do.” The men who were traveling with Saul stood there speechless. They had heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground unable to see, even though his eyes were open. They had to take him by the hand and lead him to Damascus. For three days he continued blind, during which time he neither ate nor drank.

There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias to whom the Lord had appeared in a vision. “Ananias!” he said. “Here I am, Lord,” came the answer. The Lord said to him, “Go at once to Straight Street, and at the house of Judas ask for a certain Saul of Tarsus. He is there praying.” (Saul saw in a vision a man named Ananias coming to him and placing his hands on him so that he might recover his sight.) But Ananias protested: “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. He is here now with authorization from the chief priests to arrest any who invoke your name.” The Lord said to him: “You must go! This man is the instrument I have chosen to bring my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I myself shall indicate to him how much he will suffer for my name.” With that Ananias left. When he entered the house he laid his hands on Saul and said, “Saul, my brother, I have been sent by the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the way here, to help you recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized, and his strength returned to him after he had taken food. 


John 8: 21-30

The Lord said to the people coming to him: “I am going away. You will look for me but you will die in your sins. Where I am going you cannot come.” At this some of the Jews began to ask, “Does he mean he will kill himself when he claims, ‘Where I am going you cannot come?’”

Jesus went on: “You belong to what is below; I belong to what is above. You belong to this world–a world which cannot hold me. That is why I said you would die in your sins. You will surely die in your sins unless you come to believe that I AM.” 

“Who are you, then?” they asked him. Jesus answered: “What I have been telling you from the beginning. I could say much about you in condemnation, but no, I only tell the world what I have heard from him, the truthful One who sent me.” They did not grasp that he was speaking to them of the Father. Jesus continued: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man you will come to realize that I AM and that I do nothing by myself. I say only what  the Father has taught me. He has not deserted me since I always do what pleases him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him. 

Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com

Thursday, April 18 –

  • 5:01 PM