Hell was embittered when it met Thee below face to face.
It was embittered because it was set at naught.
It was embittered for it was mocked.
It was embittered for it was slain.
It was embittered for it was cast down.
It was embittered for it was fettered.
It received a body and encountered God.
It received earth and came face to face with heaven.
It received what is seen,
and fell because of what is unseen.
O death, where is thy sting?
O Hell, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen and thou art cast down.
Christ has risen and the demons have fallen.
Christ is risen and life is made free.”
Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!
Text from the Paschal homily of St. John Chrysostom
Our Orthodox commemoration of the Three Holy Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers was instituted as a result of 11th-century debates about which of them was the greatest. They themselves had to intervene by means of a vision given to St. John Bishop of Euchaita, who chose January 30 for their feast.
These three gifts to the Church are Basil the Great (330-379), Gregory the Theologian (329-389), and John Chrysostom (347-407). Each has his own feast day, but they are held in such esteem that it isn’t too much for us to remember them again together, they who in the words of a hymn, “have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines. They are sweetly-flowing rivers of wisdom filling all creation with springs of heavenly knowledge.”
A hymn of Matins on their feast day echoes a theme that runs through hagiography generally; it is the sweetness of true theology and and God’s Word imparted to us.
Like bees hovering over the meadow of scriptures,
You embraced the wonderful pollen of their flowers.
Together you have produced for all the faithful
The honey of your teachings for their complete delight.
Therefore as we each enjoy this,
We cry out with gladness:
Blessed ones, even after death,
Be advocates for us who praise you!