On this day… November 13, 2008Posted by Matt in religion.
Tags: Eartern Orthodox, feast, liturgy, St. John of Chrysostom
I was thinking about what to write today and, after surfing the interwebs for a short time, I noticed that this is the Feast Day of St. John Chrysostom for those in the Eastern Orthodox Church. So, being somebody who is very interested in high church tradition and not having learned much about that in my Restoration Movement heritage, I decided to do a bit of research on this saint to see what I could learn about him.
St. John Chrysostom lived from 347-407 AD, serving as the Archbishop of Constantinople for seven of those years. He was well regarded for his great rhetorical abilities as a preacher, his contributions to church liturgy, his denouncements of those in positions of power who abused their authority, and for his strict asceticism. As a young man, he delved so far into self-deprivation that he spent two years living alone, continually standing, hardly sleeping, and memorizing the Bible, actions that left his stomach and kidneys permanently damaged. He continually spoke for charitable giving and was an untiring advocate for the poor, which many times set him against wealthier members of the church. You may be interested to see these two quotes from him, lambasting the rich for their neglect:
“It is not possible for one to be wealthy and just at the same time.”
“Do you pay such honor to your excrements as to receive them into a silver chamber-pot when another man made in the image of God is perishing in the cold?”
The legacy of St. John is not all good, though. Years prior to becoming the archbishop, John preached a series of eight sermons entitled, “Against the Jews,” which spoke out against both the Jews (whom he held responsible for Jesus’ death) and Jewish Christians who continued to take part in Jewish observances and festivals. These writings have been circulated many times throughout the years with the intent to foster anti-Semitism, even being used by the Nazi Party during World War II to legitimize the Holocaust.
St. John’s many contributions to the Christian world and especially to the Eastern Orthodox Church were great, though, and his love for the poor and downtrodden, along with his refusal of the luxuries of life that easily could have been his, are exceedingly commendable.
To close out today’s entry, this is a short excerpt from the Prayer of Thanksgiving found in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.
O Lord, Who bless those who bless You, and sanctify those who trust in You, save Your people and bless Your inheritance, preserve the fullness of Your Church, sanctify those who love the beauty of Your house; glorify them by Your divine power, and do not forsake us who hope in You. Grant peace to Your world, to Your churches, to the priests, to our civil authorities and to all Your people. For every good bestowal and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from You, the Father of lights, and we render glory, thanksgiving, and adoration to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.