Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Memorial of St. John Chrysostom

Today, the Church celebrates the Memorial of StJohn Chrysostom (347-407). St. John was born in Antioch. With St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Basil, he forms the group of the four great doctors of the Eastern Church. As Archbishop of Constantinople, his courageous stance against the vices of even the wealthy caused him to be exiled several times. In 407, he died while in in exile.


The word 'Chrysostom' means 'golden mouthed. ' This name was given to him for his preaching and public speaking skills, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders.

Saint John Chysistom taught against cruelty, tyranny, war, and bloodshed, maintaining that it is altogether improper for Christians to wage war and that peace and quiet are to be taught in the kingdom of Christ.

When he was eighteen, St. John Chrysostom decided to became a monk-hermit, living in a cave, studying the Scriptures, and putting himself under the discipline of an old hermit named Hesychius. However, his health broke under this austere regimen and he returned to Antioch, was ordained a priest, and began his remarkable career as a preacher

During the next twelve years, he electrified Antioch with his fiery sermons, filled with a knowledge and an eloquence that were astonishing. It was during this period that he received the nickname Chrysostom, or golden mouth, for his words seemed to be pure gold. In 397, when the see of Constantinople became vacant, the Emperor Arcadius appointed John patriarch, and since it was feared that he would refuse the honor, he was lured to Constantinople and consecrated bishop of the city in 398.

John found himself in a nest of political intrigue, fraud, extravagance, and naked ambition. He curbed expenses, gave lavishly to the poor, built hospitals, reformed the clergy, and restored monastic discipline. But his program of reform made him enemies, in particular the Empress Eudoxia and the Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria. The city in turmoil, his life threatened, John was exiled by the emperor in the year 404.

The papal envoys were imprisoned, and John — defended by the pope and ordered restored to his see — was sent further into exile, six hundred miles from Constantinople, across the Black Sea. Worn out and sick, he died of his hardships at Comana in Pontus. His last words were, "Glory to God for all things."
—Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens

"The present world is a theater, the conditions of men are roles: wealth and poverty, ruler and ruled, and so forth. When this day is cast aside, and that terrible night comes, or rather day—night indeed for sinners, but day for the righteous—when the play is ended, when the masks are removed, when each person is judged with his works, not each person with his wealth, not each person with his office, not each person with his authority, not each person with his power, but each person with his works, whether he is a ruler or a king, a woman or a man, when he requires an account of our life and our good deeds, not the weight of our reputation when the masks are removed, then the truly rich and the truly poor are revealed."
—St. John Chrysostom

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