Tuesday, January 27, 2009

St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople, 28 January (transferred)


For another icon of St. John Chrysostom go to this link: http://www.comeandseeicons.com/j/cap29.htm
(note this icon is probably more accurate in vesture, but is copywrited so I couldn't use it)

John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople was one of the greatest preachers of the ancient and eastern churches. He was born in Antioch, Syria in about the year 354. He was baptized by Patriarch Meliatus, after finding no answers in Greek philosophy. His parents were baptized shortly afer him. While young, he responded to desert monasticism until damaging his health. After six years, he returned to Antioch, where he was ordained presbyter. In 397 he was made Patriarch of Constantinople. His Episcopate was short and difficult. He was criticised for his ascetical lifestyle, and endured the anger of the Empress Eudoxia, who believed that he had called her a “Jezebel.” He did criticise her for idolatry. He was exiled twice and died during his second exile on 14 September 407. His remains were buried in Constantinople on 27 January.

John was called Chrysostom, or golden mouth because of his preaching ability. Many people came to hear him preach. He was very sensitve to the needs of the people, and saw preaching as an important part of pastoral care. He stated that a presbyter with no talent for preaching, the souls committed to his care, “will fare no better than ships tossed in a storm.” His preaching was so intense that he told people ot leave their purses at home, because pick pockets would come and help themselves to peoples purposes as they were so engrossed in his preaching. His sermons were very practical. He told people, that before they should consider the communion, they should consider the needs of those around them.

John describes the liturgy as a glorious experience in which all heaven and earth participate. His sermons emphasise the importance of lay participation in the eucharist. He asked, “Why do you marvel, that eh people anywhere utter anything with the priest at the altar, when in fact they join with the Cherubim themselves, and the heavenly powers in offering up sacred hymns. The main liturgy used by the Eastern Orthodox Church today is known as the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom for his influence on it.

His treatise, Six Books on the Priesthood, is an excellent manual on the demands of the presbyteral office and its demands. Most of his sermons are still extant as they were copied down as he was preaching. We learn from John, that preaching is important, and that Christianity, is not something for Sunday, but something we should live out everyday, and not to worry about the authorities.

Collect: Heavenly Father, as you raised John Chrysostom to preach the Gospel and suffer for the faith. Grant that all preachers would have the eloquence to proclaim your word so as to build us up in faith and knowledge and love of you. Through the Messiah we pray, Amen.

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