Augustin Sokolovski

On September 15, the Orthodox Churches of the Julian calendar celebrate the memory of St. John IV the Faster (582–595). John is the first patriarch in history to bear the title of Ecumenical.

In his youth, John was a goldsmith. Having experienced a conscious conversion, he devoted himself to the service of the Church, and became a deacon. In those days it was an extremely high rank. Patriarchs could be chosen from among the deacons. John was instructed to deal with works of mercy in the metropolitan diocese. The people revered John for his ability to combine the high service with modesty, mercy, and sincere love for self-restraint. However, the very name "Faster" was most likely an expression of the irony of the powers that be, who suspected him of hypocrisy.

"John the Faster" first was an expression of the irony of the powers that be, who suspected him of hypocrisy. They themselves understood fasting purely outwardly, counting the days to wait for the holiday, as a reason to get greedy. Therefore John, during his lifetime, began to be called a “faster” in derision.

People often judge the righteous with malice, but the Lord knows how to bring down their intentions. He remembers every word people say (cf. 12:36). He turns human irony into truth. “His word is sharper than a sword; it judges the intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). This is what happened to John.

Once, already being a Patriarch, he asked the emperor Mauritius (582-602) to loan a large amount of gold for charity. As a guarantee of this mortgage, he gave on receipt all his property, which will remain with him after his death.

When John retired to the Lord in September 595, it was discovered that it consisted of: "a low wooden bed, a thick blanket made of cheap wool and a simple cloak." “A thick cheap blanket” is a reminder of how a hungry person does not sleep, because it freezes at night .... Thus, it became apparent that John's fast was integral. It had nothing to do with food, but in grace of Jesus Christ it clothed him with righteousness.

In our time, when food is often artificial in general and the boundaries between animal and vegetable food seem to be more and more blurred, the example of holistic fasting by Patriarch John becomes very instructive.