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St. John Chrysostom

Name: St. John Chrysostom
Date: 27 January

Saint John Chrysostom, born in Antioch in 344, was endowed with a superior genius strengthenedby a brilliant education. In order to break with a world which admired and courted him, in 374 heretired for six years to a neighboring mountain, having found Christ through his friendship withSaint Basil. After acquiring the art of Christian silence, he returned to Antioch and there laboredas a priest under the direction of its bishop. His eloquence was such that the entire city, up to ahundred thousand listeners, came to hear him, a young man not yet thirty years old. He fled thispopularity and adopted the monastic life for fourteen years, until he was taken forcibly toConstantinople, to be consecrated Patriarch of the imperial city in 398.

The effect of his sermons was everywhere marvelous. He converted a large number of pagans andheretics by his eloquence, then in its most brilliant luster, and constantly exhorted his Catholicpeople to frequent the Holy Sacrifice. In order to remove all excuse for absence he abbreviatedthe long liturgy then in use. Saint Nilus relates that Saint John Chrysostom, when the priest beganthe Holy Sacrifice, very often saw “many of the Blessed coming down from heaven in shininggarments, eyes intent, and bowed heads, in utter stillness and silence, assisting at theconsummation of the tremendous mystery.”

Beloved as he was in Constantinople, his denunciations of vice made him numerous enemies. In403 these procured his banishment; and although he was almost immediately recalled, it was notmore than a reprieve. In 404 he was banished to Cucusus in the deserts of the Taurus mountains.His reply to the hostile empress was: “Chrysostom fears only one thing — not exile, prison,poverty or death — but sin.”

In 407, at sixty-three years old his strength was waning, but his enemies were impatient andtransported him to Pytius on the Euxine, a rough journey of nearly 400 miles. He was assiduouslyexposed to every hardship — cold, wet clothing, and semi-starvation, but nothing could overcomehis cheerfulness and his consideration for others. On the journey his sickness increased, and hewas warned that his end was near. Thereupon, exchanging his travel-stained clothes for whitegarments, he received Viaticum, and with his customary words, “Glory be to God for all things.Amen,” passed to Christ. He does not have the title of martyrdom, but possesses all its merit andall its glory. He is the author of the famous words characterizing Saint Paul, object of hisadmiration and love: “The heart of Paul was the Heart of Christ.”

Sources: Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints

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