Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco
Bishop John was a noted Eastern Orthodox ascetic and hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).
Canonized 2 July 1994, San Francisco, California, USA by the Holy Synod of the ROCOR as Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Wonderworker.
Miracle of Ascetic Fortitude
From the day of his monastic vows, Father John never sleeps lying on his bed again — if he falls asleep, then on an armchair or on his knees under the icons.
This small, weak man, almost a child in appearance, is some kind of miracle of ascetic stamina in our time of universal spiritual relaxation.
"If you wish to see a living saint, go to Bitol to Father John."
Complete sinlessness of the Mother of God
The teaching of the complete sinlessness of the Mother of God (1) does not correspond to Sacred Scripture,..
(2) This teaching contradicts also Sacred Tradition, which is contained in numerous Patristic writings, where there is mentioned the exalted sanctity of the Virgin Mary from Her very birth, as well as Her cleansing by the Holy Spirit at Her conception of Christ, but not at Her own conception by Anna. "There is none without stain before Thee, even though his life be but a day, save Thee alone, Jesus Christ our God, Who didst appear on earth without sin, and through Whom we all trust to obtain mercy and the remission of sins" (St. Basil the Great, Third Prayer of Vespers of Pentecost). "But when Christ came through a pure, virginal, unwedded, God-fearing, undefiled Mother without wedlock and without father, and inasmuch as it befitted Him to be born, He purified the female nature, rejected the bitter Eve and overthrew the laws of the flesh" (St. Gregory the Theologian, "In Praise of Virginity"). However, even then, as Sts. Basil the Great and John Chrysostom speak of this, She was not placed in the state of being unable to sin, but continued to take care for Her salvation and overcame all temptations (St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on John, Homily 85; St. Basil the Great, Epistle 160).
(3) The teaching that the Mother of God was purified before Her birth, so that from Her might be born the Pure Christ, is meaningless; because if the Pure Christ could be born only if the Virgin might be born pure, it would be necessary that Her parents also should be pure of original sin, and they again would have to be born of purified parents, and going further in this way, one would have to come to the conclusion that Christ could not have become incarnate unless all His ancestors in the flesh, right up to Adam inclusive, had been purified beforehand of original sin. But then there would not have been any need for the very Incarnation of Christ, since Christ came down to earth in order to annihilate sin...
(5) This teaching, which seemingly has the aim of exalting the Mother of God, in reality completely denies all Her virtues. After all, if Mary, even in the womb of Her mother, when She could not even desire anything either good or evil, was preserved by God's grace from every impurity, and then by that grace was preserved from sin even after Her birth, then in what does Her merit consist? If She could have been placed in the state of being unable to sin, and did not sin, then for what did God glorify Her? if She, without any effort, and without having any kind of impulses to sin, remained pure, then why is She crowned more than everyone else? There is no victory without an adversary.
...The teaching of the grace-given sinlessness of the Virgin Mary denies Her victory over temptations; from a victor who is worthy to be crowned with crowns of glory, this makes Her a blind instrument of God's Providence.
Thus are the words of St. Epiphanius of Cyprus fulfilled: "Certain senseless ones in their opinion about the Holy EverVirgin have striven and are striving to put Her in place of God" (St. Epiphanius, "Against the Antidikomarionites"). But that which is offered to the Virgin in senselessness, instead of praise of Her, turns out to be blasphemy; and the All-Immaculate One rejects the lie, being the Mother of Truth (John 14:6).
Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco
On Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God
None of the ancient Holy Fathers say that God in miraculous fashion purified the Virgin Mary while yet in the womb; and many directly indicate that the Virgin Mary, just as all men, endured a battle with sinfulness, but was victorious over temptations and was saved by Her Divine Son.
Saint John of Shanghai & San Francisco
Zeal Not According to Knowledge (Romans 10:2),
The Orthodox Veneration of Mary the Birthgiver of God