St. John Damascene (690-749 A.D.) (December 4)
St. John’s devout father was a financial officer in Damascus (in modern Syria),
under Moslem government.
John, brilliant and well-educated, succeeded his father in this career, but,
fearful for the welfare of his soul in such tempting surroundings,
he retired to a monastery near Jerusalem.
There his spiritual director rigorously trained and tested his humility,
lest his great intellectual gifts jeopardize the welfare of his soul.
Once John’s humility had been tested and proven,
he was given the responsibility of putting his gifts at the service of the Church.
He defended the use of sacred art against the Iconoclasts (literally, “image-breakers”)
who, with the backing of the emperor, were destroying religious art in homes and churches
and persecuting those who used sacred images as aids to prayer.
John wrote other works as well,
most notably a summa of the teachings of the Fathers of the Church up to his time,
systematically and clearly presenting the teaching of the Church.
St. John Damascene is the last of the Greek Fathers of the Church, as well as a Doctor of the Church.
I do not worship matter, I worship the God of matter,
Who became matter for my sake and deigned to inhabit matter,
Who worked out my salvation through matter.
I will not cease from honoring that matter
which works for my salvation.
I venerate it, though not as God.
-St. John Damascene
St. John Damascene, humble defender of Truth and beauty, pray for us!