Friday, November 23, 2018

Narration of the Vision of a Certain John Which is Altogether Beneficial


Narration of the Vision of a Certain John Which is Altogether Beneficial

(To be read on November 23rd)

Verses

In his sleep he beheld with his soul the fearsome Judge,
Rather fear came, with what was seen while awake.

A man received a divine warning during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great, in the year 330, whose name was John, who was known to the emperor through the craft he was employed in. Originally he lived a wicked and unseemly life, without ever considering that there is a hell. But God, who always sees well towards our benefit, appeared to him in a vision, and corrected his conduct.

One time he beheld in a dream, that he was offering Emperor Constantine an instrument from his craft. Encouraged by this, he spoke with the emperor with boldness and rejoiced. After this he beheld the emperor removing his sword from its sheath. And grabbing his hair, he went to mercilessly cut off his head. John kept on bending his neck, thinking that the emperor was perhaps playing. While this was being done, he heard from the emperor in all seriousness say: "When the sword devours your hairs, then your throat will be filled with your blood." It then appeared to him that it cut his throat, and when the sword came to his chest, John was in agony and afraid, and he sought help from someone. Out of fear and the fright of the struggle he woke up and came to himself, and was entirely astounded. He made the sign of the Cross over his body, and said: "Thank you dream for that fearsome struggle, which was only shown to me in my imagination, and not in reality or truth." He therefore remained unrepentant and unchanged.

After some time, he fell into a severe illness, and called upon God for help. Then he beheld once more, though not in a dream, but in a state of ecstasy, that he was standing on a bema of a court and judgment. He also beheld a most fearsome King sitting on a throne, dressed in both royal and hierarchical garments. On his right and left sat sacred and revered men. He saw himself standing below them. To the right of the King, he beheld young and beautiful eunuchs standing. To the left he beheld someone most humble and fit for receiving. Behind the King, he beheld a pit that was most deep and black, which just by sight brought great and unspeakable fear and distress. As he stood there with fear and trembling, the seated King said to him: "Perhaps, O young man, you know who I am?" John replied: "I know, Master, that you are the incarnate Son of God and God, as understood in our divine Scriptures." The King said to him: "Since you know me from the Scriptures, you also know those who sit with me, how you forgot the fearsome warning issued to you by the emperor Constantine a year ago? Or do you not know what I am saying?" John replied: "I know Master. The remains and leftovers of that fear still remain in my soul." The King said: "If the leftovers of that fear remain in your soul, why do you remain in your wickedness? Know that through this test it was I who brought you the torment of that fear, and not Constantine."

Having said this, it appeared that the King ordered merely with a nod to those who stood around him, to cast John into the pit behind him. As the eunuchs therefore began to push John mercilessly into the pit, he immediately called upon the help of the Theotokos. Thus it appeared to him, that he saw the Theotokos there in the midst. After this he heard the King say: "Let him go, through the supplication of my Mother." This was the vision which John saw. By this he became contrite, and coming to himself, he went to a certain pious monk and narrated everything to him.

The monk then said to him: "Give glory to God, brother, that you were made worthy to receive this teaching. Wake up therefore, my beloved, lest a similar thing happen to you as it did to one whom I will narrate to you. A similar vision as yours was seen by a certain man. First he saw a man named George bound and forcefully brought to the imperial court and judgment, in order to be cast into the fearsome chasm, and he was altogether frightened. One of those who stood there, having boldness before the King, held on to those who were bringing him to the chasm, and asked to leave him be, giving them the pledge, that he had twenty days to correct himself. Since George was therefore set free by this pledge and help, the one who saw this vision understood the manifestation, and revealed it to that George who was being pushed into the chasm, for they were friends and acquaintances. When George heard about it, he considered it as being nothing. The unfortunate one therefore remained unchanged. Twenty days having passed, alas!, he was taken from this life, and went to pay the debt that was pledged."

This supplement was narrated by the monk to John. When John heard this, having still alive in his mind the fearsome things he saw, he confessed without shame all of his sins. Then he changed his life for the better, and passed all the years of his life in God-pleasing conduct. And having died, he departed to the eternal mansions.


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