Youth Corner

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One of the projects that we intend to introduce in the Youth Corner is the Lives of Saints, who are models and examples of Christian living. It is by imitating holy men and women who practiced heroic Christian virtues of love, chastity, purity, virginity, honesty, humility, justice, temperance, wisdom and fortitude, our young people are perfected in Christian virtues. Our hedonistic culture teaches our young generation to adore the golden calf of materialism and practice the utilitarian virtues of intensification of pleasure and glorification of the self. Our families also teach our children to be materialistically successful. Accumulation of wealth is often considered the only blessing of God. In this pleasure-seeking epoch of humanity, the biography of Christian saints has a lot to teach us and our youth. After reading and comprehending the messages of the Holy Scriptures, walking on the footsteps of the apostles and saints will definitely erect us on true Christian living.

Our Youth Corner starts with a brief biography of the apostles of Christ. Everyone reads about the apostles in the New Testament. But often we do not get enough about the life of the apostles from the Bible. The tradition of the Holy Church has to contribute in this area. Studying various sources, our Youth Corner Editor, Mr. George Alexander has presented these brief sketches of the life of the Apostles of Christ.

We are also planning to publish the lives of ancient saints and martyrs of the Church. We believe that the lives of saints should inspire our youth to become loyal members of the Orthodox Church, who live in fidelity to the doctrines and morals taught by the Holy Church.

God bless you!

+Chor-Episcopos Kyriakos of Chicago

Now read the life of the Holy Apostles:

St. John the Apostle

St. John, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, is identified as the author of several New Testament works, including ‘The Gospel according John’. John the Apostle was the son of Zebedee and brother of James. Salome was his mother according toone of the traditions. He belonged to the fishermen community. He was first the disciple of John the Baptist and later he became one of the twelve men, who followed Jesus Christ. St. John had a prominent position among the Apostolic community. Peter, James and John were the only witnesses of several unique moments in the life of Jesus Christ, such as the raising of Jairus’ daughter, the Transfiguration and the Agony in Gethsemane. He was sent along with Peter to make the preparations for the Last Supper. At the last supper itself, his place was next to Jesus.

John was also that ‘other disciple’ who with Peter followed Jesus after the arrest into the palace of the high-priest. John alone remained near Jesus at the foot of the cross on Calvary with Jesus’ mother, Mary, and took Mary into his care as the last legacy of Jesus. After the Resurrection, John with Peter was the first of the disciples to run towards the grave. It is believed that St. John was the first person to believe that Jesus had truly risen. John, along with Peter, holds a prominent part in the founding and guidance of the church after the Resurrection. He was there with Peter at the healing of the lame man in the Temple. With Peter, he was thrown into prison. Along with Peter he also visited the newly converted Samaria.

John in common with the other Apostles remained some twelve years in this first field of work, until the persecution of Herod Agrippa I, which led to the scattering of the apostles through the various provinces of the Roman Empire. John went for the first time to Asia Minor and exercised his apostolic office in various provinces there and then he returned with the other disciples to Jerusalem for the Council of Apostles, which could be considered the First Ecumenical Council directly held by the apostles. Paul, in opposing his enemies in Galatia, names John explicitly along with Peter and James the Just as a ‘pillar of the Church’. He had lived for a long time in Ephesus, Asia Minor, where, he took care of Mary the Mother of God in her advanced age. According to Orthodox tradition, they both died at Ephesus, which was a Christian center during the first few centuries of Christendom. According to Tertullian (The Prescription for Heretics) John was banished (presumably to Patmos) after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffered no harm from it. Some believe his tomb is located at Selcuk, a small town in the vicinity of Ephesus. John also groomed Polycarp, later Bishop of Smyrna, and Polycarp was able to carry John’s message to the next generation.

St. John is commemorated on September 26, as well as remembered on May 8, by the Orthodox Churches.

-George Alexander @ TVOO

Apostle Peter

Saint Peter, one of the original disciples of Jesus Christ, is also known by the names, Simon Ben Jonah/BarJonah, Simon Peter, Cephas and Kepha. However his original name was Simon or Simeon. His life is featured in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.

Peter was a native of Bethsaida and was a fisherman by profession. His father was Jonah. According to the synoptic gospels Peter was a married man. Before becoming a disciple of Jesus, Simon Peter went fishing along with his brother Andrew. It is believed that while fishing in the Lake of Gennesaret, Simon and his brother Andrew were called by Jesus to be his followers. But according to Luke’s account Simon was the owner of a boat that Jesus used to preach to the multitudes that were following Him at the shore of Lake Gennesaret. Jesus then amazed Simon and his companions James and John by telling them to lower their nets, whereupon they caught a huge number of fish. Immediately after this, they followed Jesus and became His apostles. Peter was one lucky apostle along with James the Elder and John, who had the privilege to witness many great incidents, such as the Transfiguration of Jesus. Peter is also often depicted in the Gospels as a spokesman of all the apostles, and as one to whom Jesus gave special authority.

St.Peter was the person who did not allow Jesus to wash his feet alone but asked to wash his hands and face. He was also able to walk on water after seeing Jesus doing the same. Peter the Apostle was the person who cut the ear of a servant of the high priest with his sword while Jesus Christ was arrested by the soldiers. Above all Peter was the only apostle among the twelve to deny Jesus Christ, not once but three times. Peter was the first person to enter the empty tomb, although the women and the beloved disciple saw it before him. In Luke’s account, the women’s report of the empty tomb is dismissed by the apostles and Peter is the only one, who goes to check for himself to believe. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians points out resurrection appearances of Jesus in which, the first one was to Peter. In one of the appearances of Jesus after resurrection, Peter three times affirmed his love for Jesus, balancing his threefold denial, and Jesus reinstated Peter back in his position as an apostle.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter is portrayed as an extremely important figure within the early Christian community, with Peter delivering a significant speech during Pentecost. Peter took the lead in selecting a replacement for Judas Iscariot. He was twice arraigned, with John, before the Sanhedrin and directly defied them. He did missionary journeys to Lydda, Joppa and Caesarea. He was also present at the Council of Jerusalem. Peter has also been to Antioch and this is mentioned in the Epistle to the Galatians where Paul confronted him. Historians have furnished other evidence of Peter’s journeys in Antioch. Subsequent tradition held that Peter had been the first bishop of Antioch. The claim that Peter was the first bishop of Rome is absurd, since there is no historical evidence to support it. Actually Paul had been in Rome before Peter went there. However tradition tells us that Peter went to Rome for his trial and martyrdom. Traditions say that Peter received martyrdom through crucifixion with his head down. Some of the early writings indicate that St. Peter, probably at the time of the ‘Great Fire of Rome’ in the year 64 AD, met martyrdom in Rome. But there is no unified agreement on the death of St. Peter. The relics of St. Peter are preserved at St.Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

St. Peter is remembered on February 22, and on June 29 and on November 18.

-George Alexander @ TVOO

Apostle St. Jude Thaddeus

St. Jude is one of the twelve disciples of Jesus the Saviour. He is also known by the names Jude Thaddeus. In the Syriac tradition, we call him Apostle Thaddai.

St. Jude was born in Paneas, a town in Galilee, according to tradition. He spoke Greek and Aramaic. He was a farmer by trade. His father was Clopas and his mother was Mary, who was also a cousin of the Virgin Mary. It is believed that Jude’s father, Clopas was murdered due to his forthright and outspoken devotion to the risen Christ. It is also said that after Mary’s death, miracles were attributed to her intercession.

In the New Testament Apostle Jude is referred as the son of James. In the lists of the Apostles given by Matthew, Mark and Luke, a person with the name Lebbaeus is mentioned; his surname was Thaddeus. Tradition has also numbered a Thaddeus among the seventy disciples mentioned in the Gospel according to St. Luke. Some scholars have argued that it was another Thaddeus who was one of the seventy disciples. But the identification of the two names has been virtually universal, leading to the name of Jude Thaddeus. The name by which Luke calls the Apostle; “Jude of James” is ambiguous in nature in the relationship of Jude to this James. Such a construction commonly denotes a relationship between a father and a son. But it has been traditionally interpreted as “Jude, brother of James” This is evident in King James Version of the Holy Bible. Based on this interpretation, Jude and his supposed brother James were identified with Jude, brother of Jesus and James the Just, two of the “brothers of the Lord” which has been mentioned by St.Mark and St.Mathew in their works.

St.Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. He is also believed to have visited places like Edessa. He suffered martyrdom along with Simon the Zealot in Persia. The 14th century writer Nicephorus Callistus considers Jude the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana, although Saint Gregory the Illuminator is considered the “Apostle to the Armenians”, as he baptized King Tiridates III of Armenia in 301, and converted the Armenians into Christianity. But the Apostles Jude and Bartholomew are considered the first to bring Christianity to Armenia in the 1st century and thus are venerated as the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

The Armenian tradition says that Saint Jude suffered martyrdom in 65 AD together with Apostle Simon the Zealot. Their acts and martyrdom were recorded in an Acts of Simon and Jude that was among the collection of passions and legends traditionally associated with the legendary Abdias, bishop of Babylon. This was later translated into Latin by his disciple Tropaeus Africanus.

Sometime after his death, Saint Jude’s body was moved to Rome and was placed in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica. According to popular tradition and some historical evidence, the remains of Jude were preserved in a monastery on an island in the northern part of Issyk-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan until mid-15th century. It is believed that the holy remains are either preserved there or moved to yet more desolate stronghold in the Pamir Mountains. Recent discovery of the ruins of what could be that monastery may bring an end to the dispute.

Many Christians, especially in the past, reckoned him as Judas Iscariot and avoided prayers to and for him and hence he is called the “Forgotten Saint”. He is also known as the saint of ‘Impossible Things’.

June 19th is observed as the feast day of St.Jude in the Orthodox Church.

-George Alexander @ TVOO