The saint for March 27
Saint John Damascene
 
Optional Memorial
Roman Calendar

Born 676 at Damascus, Syria
Died 749
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Proclaimed a Doctor of the Universal Church 1890, by Pope Leo XIII

John was the son of Mansur, who was an advisor to the caliph on behalf if the Damascus christian population. He was educated by both muslim and christian scholars, and well-trained in the classics, with a keen intellect and a poetic turn of mind. Although John himself spent a few brief years at court, most of his life was spent in the nearby monastery of St. Sabas.

John is venerated by both the Western and Orthodox churches, considered a Doctor of the Church in both traditions. He is sometimes referred to as the Doctor of Icons or the Doctor of Christian Art, owing to the fact that he wrote very effective treatises against the iconoclasts. We owe a great deal to his efforts to preserve this most wonderful treasure of the Church.

"Gregory, who is so eloquent about God, says that the mind, which is set upon getting beyond corporeal things, is incapable of doing it. For the invisible things of God since the creation of the world are made visible through images. We see images in creation which remind us faintly of God, as when, for instance, we speak of the holy and adorable Trinity, imaged by the sun, or light, or burning rays, or by a running fountain, or a full river, or by the mind, speech, or the spirit within us, or by a rose tree, or a sprouting flower, or a sweet fragrance.
Again, an image is expressive of something in the future, mystically shadowing forth what is to happen. For instance, the ark represents the image of Our Lady, Mother of God, so does the staff and the earthen jar. The serpent brings before us Him who vanquished on the Cross the bite of the original serpent; the sea, water, and the cloud the grace of baptism." --Saint John Damascene

Saint John wrote a renowned scholarly treatise, Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, a compendium of the Greek Fathers. He was also a highly regarded poet, and we have many surviving poems and prayers. He felt a deep love and devotion towards Mary, and wrote as well a series of homilies in her honor, linked to her feasts.

Prayer of St. John of Damascus.

A Bedtime Prayer, To be said pointing at the bed.

O Lord, Lover of men, is this bed to be my coffin, or will You enlighten my wretched soul with another day? Here the coffin lies before me, and here death confronts me. I fear, O Lord, Your Judgment and the endless torments, yet I cease not to do evil. My Lord God, I continually anger You, and Your immaculate Mother, and all the Heavenly Powers, and my holy Guardian Angel. I know, O Lord, that I am unworthy of Your love, but deserve condemnation and every torment. But, whether I want it or not, save me, O Lord. For to save a good man is no great thing, and to have mercy on the pure is nothing wonderful, for they are worthy of Your mercy. But show the wonder of Your mercy on me, a sinner. In this reveal Your love for men, lest my wickedness prevail over Your unutterable goodness and mercy. And order my life as You will.

"Show me the icons that you venerate, that I may be able to understand your faith." --Saint John of Damascus
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