Orthodox and Greek Catholic believers celebrate the Three Holy Hierarchs (Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom), who are regarded as creators of Orthodoxy, their lives and teachings being models of faith.
All the three hierarchs lived at the same time, in the 4th century, being very familiar with the Scriptures, the sciences and philosophy of their time. They are also celebrated separately: St Basil, on January 1, St Gregory the Theologian, on January 25 and St John Chrysostom, on November 13 and January 27.
Living in the years after the blood soaked persecutions of the Romania emperors against the Church, the hierarchs struggled hard for the understanding and defence of the apostolic faith.
St Basil was a shepherd of laymen and a guide to monks. His most famous sermons are explanations of the Book of Genesis and explanations of the Book of Psalms. The arrangements he taught the monks 16 centuries ago are still valid today. Besides prayers in the life of monks he gives pride of place to work. As a teacher of laymen, St Basil urged the rich to support the Christian settlements founded by him for helping the poor, the sick, all people who are weak and helpless in the city.
St Basil and St John Chrysostom made efforts to beautify and give the ultimate form to the Divine Liturgy at their time. The two liturgies, the Liturgy of St John and the Liturgy of St Basil, are the ones that are held in the Orthodox Church as they used to hold them.
St Gregory of Nazinanzus is known as a born orator, poet and great theologian. He got the fame of Speaker of God and made it easier for people to understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Called to Constantinople, a city which had so much been subjected to the heresy supported by Arius that in the entire capital of the Empire there was only one Orthodox Church, the Church of the Resurrection, after five years of speeches in this church, things changed and in the entire capital there was only one church of Arius, the other ones being Orthodox. For this he was elected Patriarch of Constantinople. There were few theologians that matched the loftiness and profundity of the theology of St Gregory. His most famous sermons are the five theological speeches given in the Church of the Resurrection in Constantinople.
As for St John Chrysostom, he called people to return to God and mercy, from the humblest ones to the haughtiest ones, encouraging and scolding them and giving as an example his life full of needs, but also of staunch manliness. He was regarded as the most astute speaker the Church has ever had. As proof of his sermons he left the Church the translation of the Gospel of Matthew and the translation of the 14 epistles of St Paul, which are considered to be a real practical Gospel.
The commemoration of the Three Holy Hierarchs was established for January 30 by Bishop John at the time of Emperor Alexius Comnenus. They think that this way the three calls of Orthodoxy were gathered in one single voice: the call to the monastic life of St Basil, the lofty theology of St Gregory and the practical Gospel of St John.
To honour the three hierarchs, three centuries ago, Prince Vasile Lupu of Moldavia built the wonderful church in Iasi (eastern Romania), which filled many people with astonishment due to its beauty.AGERPRES