05 March 2008

The Martyr John the Bulgarian

from the Synaxarion:

The Martyr John the Bulgarian was a native of Bulgaria. In his early youth through spiritual immaturity he became enmeshed in the devil's snares, succumbing to the superstitions of the Turks and renouncing his faith in Christ. In a short while the hapless fellow realized the full gravity of his transgression, and he left his native region for Holy Mount Athos, and there in the Laura of Saint Athanasias, in full obedience to an elder, he besought forgiveness of God with bitter tears and prayers of repentance. The power of repentance in young John was so great and his desire to serve the True God so intense, that he left the Holy Mountain and went to Constantinople. There, in the church of Saint Sophia, which had been converted into a mosque, he began openly and fearlessly to confess Christianity. The saint was unmoved both by the false flattery and the fierce threats of the Hagarites [Mohammadeans/Muslims]. On 5 March 1784 the 19 year old preacher was beheaded.

God help me, but this record in the Synaxarion reading for today moved me deeply. The idea that after more than 300 years of Turkish domination of Constantinople, and their use of the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God as a mosque, that a 19 year old man full of the grace of the Holy Spirit should walk boldly in before the Mohammadeans and preach the Gospel of Christ is awe inspiring. Would that I had his faith or his boldness! Would that we all had the strength of conviction to stand up to the Mohammadeans of our own time.

Holy Martyr John, pray for us!+

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