26 September OS 2018 – St. John the Theologian
Today is the feast of the Beloved Disciple, the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian. St. John is called “Theologian” because the theology of the Fourth Gospel that he authored flies far above earthly things, like the eagle that is his symbol. Pre-eminently among the Apostles, he was given the vision of divine things, culminating in his old age with the awesome visions he saw while exiled on the isle of Patmos, which he set down in the Book of the Apocalypse.
Why did the Lord Jesus choose John as His best friend, and why did the Holy Spirit reveal to him the highest mysteries? The answer lies in St. John’s great purity of body and of soul. As well as being the Beloved Disciple, he is also the Virgin Disciple; that is, alone among the Twelve, he was a lifelong celibate. This is not to say that the married state of the other Apostles was in some way against the will of God; no, marriage is blessed, as Our Lord demonstrated at the marriage in Cana of Galilee. Marriage is precious, like silver. But virginity is precious like gold.
We have two great needs in the Church today, for our salvation and for the salvation of the world: to raise up godly children to be stalwart and faithful married people, and to raise up godly children to enter the monastic life. We must firmly resolve to shield children from the earliest infancy from impure images, words, and music, and to keep their souls pure.
There are two excellent books that every Orthodox parent, prospective parent, grandparent, and godparent should read and put into practice: Raising Them Right, which is composed of the early chapters of The Path to Salvation by Theophan the Recluse, the chapters on infancy, childhood, and adolescence; and Orthodox Christian Parenting, a book published by Zoe Press consisting of a collection of short passages from the Fathers and from recent Orthodox writers. I encourage everyone to obtain them, read them, and provide them to those you know who are in any way involved in rearing children.
May the Savior of the world, Our Most Pure Lord, preserve us in the purity of consecrated virginity and sacramental marriage, so that our bodies and souls may be preserved unto the resurrection and eternal life.