Job of Pochaev
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The Venerable Job of Pochaev, Abbot and Wonderworker of Pochaev, was a monastic and abbot of the Pochaev Lavra in Volhynia for fifty years, He defended Orthodoxy against the persecutions engendered in the Union of Brest. He was a quiet ascetic, yet a prolific writer who used the new printing press to teach and reach the faithful. He is commemorated on October 28, the date of his repose, and August 28, the date of the uncovering of his relics.
The future saint Job was born Ivan Zhelezo in 1551 to pious parents, Ioann and Agafia, in Pokut’a in Galicia, near the city of Kolomia. As a child he developed high spiritual aspirations, and used the lives of Ss Sava and John of Damascus as well as the “Ladder” of St John Climacus as models of virtuous life.
At the age of ten, Ivan left his parents and asked the abbot of the Transfiguration Ugornits Monastery, in the village of Pidhora near the town of Terebovlya, to accept him so that he could serve his “brothers.” He was tonsured a monk two years later, at the age of 12, and was given the name Job. He lived a life of great piety and strict asceticism.
About 1581, when he reached the age of 31, he was offered and accepted the dignity of the priesthood. At about the same time he accepted the urgings of Prince Constantine of Ostrozhsh, who was famed as a defender of Orthodoxy, to become abbot of the Monastery of the Elevation of the Holy Cross outside the city of Dubno.
For the next twenty years, Hieromonk Job served as the the abbot (hegumen) of this monastery and engaged himself in writing and publishing theological works in an atmosphere of increased tensions. These tensions between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics heightened after the Union of Brest in 1596. His works were collected into The Book of the Venerable Job of Pochaev, Written by His Own Hand. The book contained 80 teachings, conversations, and sermons as well as excerpts of writings from the Holy Fathers. In his writings Fr. Job also defended Orthodoxy against the Protestant heresies presented by missionaries. In his works he presented the Orthodox view of the dogmas of the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the Mother of God, Baptism, and other matters that particularly were rejected by Protestant missionaries.
In his writings, Fr. Job also critiqued the teachings of the Roman Catholics concerning their doctrinal differences from Orthodox teachings, including the use of unleavened bread in the Eucharist. With the Union of Brest, the Orthodox living in Galicia, Volhynia, and other areas of Poland were increasingly subjected to persecutions, deprivation of their rights, and were subject to intense pressures to convert to Catholicism. Fr. Job led the efforts to counteract these pressures using the monastery printing presses and disseminating Orthodox literature. Among the literature was the printing of the first complete Orthodox Bible, sponsored by Prince Constantine in 1581.
Through this public work, Fr. Job faced growing fame that restrained his ascetic life. Finally, he chose to withdraw from the world and became a hermit into the mountain caves of the monastery at Pochaev in Volhynia. Having joined the Pochaev Lavra of the Dormition of the Theotokos in 1604, Fr. Job soon was chosen by the brethren of the monastery as their abbot. He fulfilled his duties as abbot zealously while maintaining a kind and gentle manner with the brethren. He actively participated in the work of the monastery: planting trees and re-working the monastery’s waterworks. He was quiet, used few words, and constantly said the Jesus Prayer in a soft voice. He introduced strict discipline into the monastic life of the monastery, while living the ascetic life himself. He often retreated to his cave that was difficult to enter and so small that sitting, standing, or laying down was difficult. Kneeling, he would pray for long periods of time, wearing knee markings in the rock floor of the cave.
As abbot of the Pochaev Lavra, Job continued taking an active part in the defense of Orthodoxy and the Russian people against the Union of Brest, making extensive use of the famed printing press at the Lavra. He participated in the Synod of Kiev in 1628 that was called to defend the Orthodox Church against Uniatism.
Reflecting his asceticism, Hieromonk Job was tonsured with the Great Schema sometime after 1642. At this tonsure he was given the new monastic name of John.
Hieromonk Job fell asleep in Our Lord on October 25, 1651, having directed Pochaev Lavra for over fifty years. He lived a life of over 100 years. He was glorified on August 8, 1659. On August 28, 1659, his relics were recovered, incorrupt and taken to Trinity Cathedral in the Lavra.
On August 28, 1883, his relics were again moved a church in the Lavra that was consecrated to his honor. August 28 is the date for annual pilgrimages by the faithful to Pochaev Lavra to honor and venerate his relics.