Speaking: Comments made by mourners after the repose of Crazy John.
"lt's only true to say that during the last two years, after I realized the real value of Crazy John, many of my habits have changed. These changes have occurred mostly due to his fervent prayers. As many other Christians do today, I had followed the well-trodden path. That is, I had brought God down to my own standards, establishing a very free relationship, which I called 'faith.' I assumed habitual visits to the church, just to gain a hollow social respect. I perceived my relationship with God as an exchange, and I thought that by following a certain routine, I could become one of His chosen. The truth is that our God cannot be reached by making the sign of the cross in an impressive manner or by going to the church to get social recognition, nor can the heart be tuned to the pulse of the Triune God by taking part in spiritual gatherings and circles which interpret the Holy Bible as a fairytale.
"What's more, the association with Crazy John helped me understand that our neighbor, and especially the one we think of as an 'enemy,' is the image of God, and it is he for whom we must sacrifice ourselves.
"'ls it possible, my Anastasy,' Crazy John once said, 'to hate and decline God, to chase Him and swear at Him, while at the same time asking for His help?'
"'No, it's not,' I answered.
"'So, how is it possible to hate our neighbor, the living image of our God? lt's a huge madness, and there is no medicine to cure it. Only with repentance, only with repentance and Confession,' he added.
"Crazy John used to characterize all these 'superficial' Christians – who by living in the manner of a Pharisee, as he used to say, thought that they were close to God – as slumbering and hypnotized. He actually used to say that the Adversary built a peculiar, contemporary, mental hospital with perfect wickedness and captured most of the Christians in it, giving them hypnotics and 500 mg sedative pills to keep them asleep and, at the same time, to preserve inside them the illusion of social acceptance.
"'Our planet, Mr. Anastasy, is the vineyard of our Triune God; it's His "business." This is something that, unfortunately, we haven't yet come to realize, and we believe that we are capable of reversing this connection. Man is equipped with his own will, and he can freely choose either to integrate himself into the Lord's business or to reject it. This integration means obedience to the rules and the Law of God the Creator. On the other hand, rejection signifies the breaking of these rules. There is no middle way. It’s unacceptable, for example, to cheat for eleven whole years on your wife with her sister and, at the same time, to wear a cross on your chest and to go to church! Neither can you steal, prostitute, nor lie, and claim at the same time that you believe in Christ.
"'What matters is whether you are on God's side or not, Mr. Anastasy. To participate in the mystic doxology of the universal world, you have to offer yourself utterly to the Triune God. The Christians' homeland is the heavens, not the earth. We are simple tenants and foreigners on the earth, while in the heavens, we are owners of eternity. The eye of God watches the people's hearts day and night and sees their intentions..."'Being a Christian means sacrifice; it means becoming full by seeing others eat, receiving the meeting of your neighbor's soul with God as your joy, and living and participating in the joy and progress of others as if it were your own. "Christian" means to disdain the tortures of martyrdom, as King David says, which have always been the central entrance to heaven, to feel pain at the pain of others...
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An excerpt from Crazy John, Vol. 1, by Dionysios A. Makris, (Agathos Logos: Athens, 2010), available from The Monastery of St. John of San Francisco, Manton, CA (http://www.monasteryofstjohn.org/); St. Barbara Orthodox Monastery, Santa Paula, CA (http://www.stbarbaramonastery.org/), and other Orthodox booksellers.