Lives of Saints - St. John Kalyvites Christianity - Books
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery;'                but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.                If your right eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.                If your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off, and throw it away from you. For it is more profitable for you that one of your members should perish, than for your whole body to be cast into Gehenna.                'It was also said, 'Whoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorce,'                but I tell you that whoever puts away his wife, except for the cause of sexual immorality, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries her when she is put away commits adultery.                'Again you have heard that it was said to them of old time, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall perform to the Lord your vows,'                but I tell you, don't swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is the throne of God;                nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.                Neither shall you swear by your head, for you can't make one hair white or black.                But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes' and your 'No' be 'No.' Whatever is more than these is of the evil one.                'You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.'*                But I tell you, don't resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.                If anyone sues you to take away your coat, let him have your cloak also.                Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.                Give to him who asks you, and don't turn away him who desires to borrow from you.                'You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor,* and hate your enemy.*'                But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,                that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.               
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Lives of Saints - St. John Kalyvites

St. John Kalyvites

The popularity of the name John, made it a name common in many families. In one family there was a son named John whose common name identifies him in a most uncommon manner, appropriate to the most uncommon life he chose to lead in complete devotion to the Savior seldom equalled in intensity and unsurpassed in loyalty. Thus a man comes down to us in ecclesiastical history by the name of St. John Kalyvites ( = hut dweller), whose life story is a study in Christian resolve and calculated denial.

This particular John was born to parents whose names were Eutropios and Theodora, both of whom were devout Christians and whose station in life was lofty enough to place them in the company of Emperor Leo. The youngest of three children, John had every advantage, but he might as well have been born of paupers. When he was old enough to make a choice, he scorned the fun and games of the more-or-less idle rich in favor of more serious pursuits, enjoying most the company of monks who had paused in his city enroute to the Holy Land and one of whom remained for a time with John's parents while the others went on. The parents were content to entertain their guest for as long as he wished, but the monk extended his stay principally because he fascinated young John who piled him with questions about Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. The monk in turn was pleased at the boy's religious bent, spending hours in spelling out the concepts of the Christian faith and the beauties that lay in the worship of Jesus Christ. The monk finally left to continue his pilgrimage only after promising the boy that he would return and take him to the monk's monastery called Akoimetoi (Sleepless). Making no mention of his intent to eventually go to this monastery, whose name derived from the fact that the monks, organized in groups, prayed and meditated in turn around the

clock. John went on with his education but with a request that he be given a Bible. The parents agreed because they could afford it since a hand written Bible was expensive, a possession few youngsters possessed. It is said that the boy's Bible was illustrated with holy figures, and made from the best of materials. John savored every word of the Bible while keeping up with his other duties and awaiting impatiently for the monk to return as promised.

John's anxiety grew as the days passed. Finally, after a year had passed, his friend the monk appeared. Determined to keep his future course a secret, he arranged to meet the monk aboard ship, getting the passage money from unquestioning parents. Once they had arrived at the monastery, they had no trouble asking the abbot to waive the mandatory one year period, despite the boy's extreme youth; and John was tonsured a monk without delay. He joined his fellow monks, embarking on a program of extreme austerity.

John's vow of poverty and chastity included fast days that were ongoing and not restricted to sacred observances. John's diet, restricted to meager portions of bread and water, was so severe that his gaunt appearance alarmed the abbot who implored him to take substantial nourishment.

John continued his fasting, but as he continued to shut out everything and everybody to think only of the Lord, his will weakened to the extent that he allowed himself to turn his thoughts to the parents he had abandoned without warning. Finally, he was driven to ask the abbot for permission to see his parents once more. The abbot was only too willing to grant permission, assuring the young man, who now looked much older than his years, that the Lord would understand.

John somehow bore up under the weary journey and when he appeared at what once was his home, the servants were about to turn him away, when his father, not recognizing the haggard creature before him as his own son, ordered them to let the poor monk in. Offered shelter in comfort, the unrecognized son asked to be given the use of a hut in a corner of the grounds. He remained there for three years. In all that time his own mother failed to recognize him.

After three years of deliberate deprivation and isolation, John had a vision in which an angel of the Lord appeared to tell him that he was about to be received into the Kingdom of Heaven. He sent the Bible to his parents, who came rushing to his side. But in a matter of days the son, finally recognized by his parents, died.



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