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Friday, January 27, 2012

Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor

Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor, January 29, 2012

Nocturn III of Matins

A Homily by Saint Augustine the Bishop

The Lord would have us understand how that men do lose their power of savoring others with righteousness when they are willing to place their eternal welfare in jeopardy for the sake of any temporal advantage, like as attainment of ease of luxury, or escape from suffering or toil. For that which is eternal, unlike things of this world, can neither be bestowed by men, nor by them taken away. Hence, when he asketh : If the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted : he would have us understand the question to be : If ye, by whom mankind is preserved from corruption, be willing to lose the kingdom of heaven so as to escape trials or persecutions in this world, who is there to preserve you from corruption, seeing ye are they that God hath chosen to preserve all others from corruption?

Those that should be the salt of the earth, but have lost heir savour, are thenceforth good for nothing, saith the Lord, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. But no one that suffered persecution is truly said to be trodden under foot of men. Rather, that one is truly trodden under foot of men who through fear of persecution hath lost the savour of righteousness. For no one can be trodden upon, unless he be beneath him which treadeth upon him. And certainly no one who hath his heart in heaven, no matter how grievously he doth suffer in his body on earth, is rightly said to be beneath anyone who misuseth him.

Ye are the light of the world, saith the Lord. And we are to understand the word: World : in the same sense as the word : Earth : when he spoke above of the salt of the earth, that is, not that earth whereupon we walk with our bodily feet, but the men which dwell upon the earth ; in other words, sinners, for the sweetening and correction of whose corruption, the Lord hath sent his Apostles, as it were, as so much salt. And so by the world we are to understand, not the heaven and the earth, but the men who are in the world and love the world, for the enlightening of whom the Apostles have been sent. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid : that is, what is founded whereof the mountain upon which the Lord gave this discourse was itself a figure, is magnificent in the eyes of all men.


Hagiography of Saint John Chrysostom

This John was born at Antioch, and in manhood developed such a gift of eloquence that he came to be called Chrysostom, that is, Golden-mouth. He became a monk, and set about to subdue his quick temper, and other passions, none of which he found so difficult to conquer as vainglory. He was made Archbishop of Constantinople against his will in 398, and undertook the reform of that vast diocese, recalling Christians to their first fervour, founding hospitals for the sick and poor, and sending missionaries to the Goths, and even settling the troubles of the Church of Ephesus. The principal liturgy of the Eastern Church is named for him because of the contributions which he made to it.

His great Christian learning and zeal earned him many enemies, one of whom was the Empress Eudoxia, who sent him into exile. But the people so much rebelled at his that he was recalled. Whereat he ceased not to rebuke the laxity of manners amongst high and low, which so annoyed a faction of bishops that these same procured of the Emperor Arcadius to have him exiled to Armenia, and then driven thither and yon. During which time it passeth belief how much he suffered, and how many he won to Christ. Thus in his old age, from the hardships of his forced journeys, he died in Pontus, on September 14th in 407.

But in 434, the then Emperor Theodosius and his sister Pulcheria, children of Arcadius and Eudoxia, caused the body of the Saint to be brought from Pontus to Constantinople, and on January 27th laid it with magnificent honours in a tomb, beside the which they prayed for the forgiveness of their father and mother. His relicks were later translated to the Vatican Basilica at Rome. Saint Chrysostom is esteemed as one of the first four Eastern Doctors of the Church, of whom he was by far the most prolific preacher, and his writings are one of the treasures of Christendom.


O Lord, who didst vouchsafe to illumine thy Church with the wondrous righteousness and doctrine of thy blessed Confessor and Bishop Saint Chrysostom: grant, we beseech thee, that the bounty of thy heavenly grace may evermore increase and multiply the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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