Chrysostom, 345-407. Doctor of Preachers, Feast, Sept
John is most important for us to learn from because his
life, actions, and words mirrored and echoed God's eternal Word,
Jesus Christ. We too are called to express that same Word whether it
is done secretly, silently, or overtly. St John expressed it superbly
and generously as a preacher. That was what his position required of
him according to his personality, gifts, and graces.
can do the same. Each of us can reflect that Eternal Word by our
sincere behavior and kind words to others. We are not all called to
be a priest or preacher as John but we have the same message to
share. Our challenge is to be obedient to God's will and to be kind to other people especially, if at times, they show unkindness toward
us. This takes virtue found only in prayer, communion and consecration.
Daily we are challenged to react to others in a manner
that befits us as children of God. After all, Jesus told us that he
was ascending to his Father and to our Father. We both have the same
Father and the same message to share even when nasty people thwart
We will be able to achieve this kindness when we try greatly
to live in close union with God and others (the kind and the not-so kind) and frequently request to live
this favor from God despite repeated failures. This behavior and
reactions are called witnessing one's faith. John Chrysostom was a
marvelous witness to the faith not only because he was a great
preacher but also because he loved to witness to his faith even when
others didn't like to hear what he had to say or silenced him with
All of us have felt the sting of being criticized,
ridiculed or ignored. Sometimes it is unavoidable and John can help
us bear it without hostile reaction. It is hard to remain calm when
slander or harshness is hurled at us without just causes.
those who out of necessity have to say things others do not like to
hear, John is a wonderful example. Preachers and those who instruct
others in the faith, learn from St John. Pray that you may be
inspired to speak up, (not be silent) to speak out (be unafraid to tell) and speak the truth always despite
the consequences. John did that and he gives us the courage to be
unafraid when we must say things that people don't like to hear but
which are necessary to be said.
Chrysostom was born the same
year as St Jerome and was as talented with his tongue as Jerome was
with his pen. His name means "golden mouth". He was a great
preacher in Constantinople. He also spent a dozen years in Syria
proclaiming the word of God. St Ephraem, who preceded St John by
forty years was from the East and probably knew him. St John was, as
many before him, a monk in the desert before he was chosen
archbishop. He was caught up in imperial politics of his day and
there was not too much he could do about it so he intentionally
exiled himself or was exiled. He suffered exile and died in exile
rather than go along with the "good old gang". He lived up to the
high standards of the gospel and what the Spirit made known within his
mind and heart.
John was troubled by stomach ailments and his
body was weak but his tongue, like Jerome, was sharp and powerful.
He made his point patently clear and his words often stung the "high
and the mighty". Unlike St Peter Chrysologous who was an Early
Church Doctor and was afraid of wearying his audience by giving five
minutes homilies, John was just the opposite and spoke for hours.
His occasional two hour sermons often exacerbated his listeners
because he would tell "everything the way it was". He often corrected habits that could easily lead
into temptations, if not already sinful such as participation in the theater and the circus of his day.
'Broadway' shows in his time were to 'broad'. Listen to his comment in the below quote: "If but once the flame of impure lust seizes
you in the theater and those impure looks bewitch you, then you wrong the pure and respected comrade of your life..."
Rengers states the residue of images is toxic compared to the excitement of the wrong kind of theater. Then, home and its people can seem dull.
not concern about being polite due to the corruption of the times.
Obviously there was much dissolute living during this period and his
style was not the least appreciated. The use of tact with charity in
discrete speaking is wise but God sometimes moved him to be bold,
blunt, and outspoken. God will move us too to be outspoken too but
sometimes we have to allow him to speak through us. This requires
great docility. More often than not we speak out in a reactionary
manner than in a justify manner. It is only by the sincerity and
earnestness of our words spoken not in a retaliatory reaction but in
a collected firmness that God's moves us to speak. It is never
spoken in malice but for correction and edification. Normally, we
should not speak to defend ourselves but God's honor and glory. John's major focus in his life up to his last breath was
"Glory be to God for all things. Amen"
Jesus often lashed out against the hypocrites in his day. He
always spoke honestly, measured and totally accurately in defense of
God's honor and the practice of virtue. God deplores depraved, perverted, and licentious living. The Creator wants our heart.
Scriptures says God is a jealous Lover. The Almighty makes claims on
us. Only the Infinite alone can satisfy the finite cravings of the
heart. The pure of heart see God exactly because the Lord delights
in revealing divine love to the innocent and those who have no
The impure or uninnocent do not see God. Their hidden
sins make them dissipated. They should turn to him and not from his
goodness. Lacking in modesty or whatever sin against purity they
maintain, causes their vision to be blurred and unfocused. Impurity,
and any type of sin, will chain us, make us prisoners and enslave
us. We become base, vile, and our actions become instinctive and
offensive to the Holy One.
All of God's animal's reactions
for the most part are pleasing to God because God gives each animal
not reason but instinct for survival reasons. Humans have both
reason and instinct but when we substitute one for the other we do
not act as children of God and displease our loving God. Grace,
mercy and God's favor will always enable and empower us to be in
control or else turn to God in sorry and obtain immediate
forgiveness when we fail. We are not angels. When we remain
obstinate in our sins and stay obdurate, our faith and love becomes tepid,
shallow and have no root. Then when trial or tests come we lack a
solid foundation and get caught up in weakness.
Listen to the last words of the gospel taken from Luke 6: 43-49...
"But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst
against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed."
Chrysostom eagerly spoke about Jesus' many parables. The word of God is the seed of God. It takes root when he are receptive
and are listening carefully. It is necessary to sow the seed by word and deed in order that it takes root and hold firm. John did that with
word and actions. We can too.
John deplored court protocol that accorded him
precedence before the highest state official. His zeal led him to
decisive action. He deposed bishops who bribed their way into
office. He had a sensitive heart for the poor and praised almsgiving
as the Christian queen of virtues. John supported the infirm and
those who lived in what we would call hospitals.
Rengers informs us that our saint built a great hospital with
the money he had saved on household expenses in his first year as bishop. Many bishops today imitate John. Perhaps, more could?
eloquently about the various dimensions of charity. The rich did not
like hearing that private property existed because of Adam's fall
from grace in the garden of paradise. Before humankind sinned all
gifts were shared mutually and privately. Nothing was lacking for
anyone and no one had more than the other. John was precisely
correct in his attempt for us to be generous toward the less gifted.
Jesus has told us that the poor will always be with us. Perhaps this
status is more for us who are not poorer than the poor.
creatures have fallen from grace or are lacking in grace. All are in
need of grace no matter the perfection. It was pointed out to me by
a reader of this website that John spoke vile anti-semetic homilies
and hated all Jews. I confess that I am ignore of that action.
We need never to judge and remember that we are all sinners. However, when John did sin it probably occurred earlier in his life. Rengers records that a "contemporary biography of the Saint, usually attributed to Palladious, says: 'after his baptism, (about age 18) John never cursed or swore or spoke evil of anyone or spoke a lie or wished ill to anyone or tolerated loose talk."
St Mary, however, was full of grace and remained so only to become more and more holier as she aged. In Father Luigi Gambero's
book listed in the Sources he tells us that our doctor had no doubts
that Jesus was born of Mary virginally. He considered the virginal
conception a miracle that formed part of God's hidden design; it was
already foretold in the Old Testament by such prophetic events as
the miraculous conceptions of barren women such as Sarah, Anna, and
Without God's favor, human nature is greedy,
stingy and we are enormously self-centered. Without supernatural
support we covet eagerly. The more we have, the more we want. The
church reminds us of the capital sins. Our conscience, if they are
formed decently, will testify to the truth of right and wrong. If we
show mercy, compassion and goodwill to the unfortunate we will be
endowed with profound and abundant supernatural life. God is like an
eternal magnet that attracts and draws us near the omniscient One, especially those that speak and
act godly. The all-powerful One lavishes gifts unstintingly and
When it came to justice and charity, John
acknowledged no double standard. Aloof, energetic, and outspoken,
John became a target for scorn, sarcasm, and personal attack. He was
accused as Jesus for being a glutton, a drunkard and unchaste among
rich widows. He was maliciously and endlessly gossiped about. But
that didn't faze him. His actions taken against unworthy bishops
were viewed as being too uncanonical and displaying extortion and
extension of his authority.
Others discredited John with
slander, lies and claims he was promoting heresy. The empress took
sides with the opponents of John because she too resented his
sermons that were sometimes aimed at her.
exemplified the role of the prophet. "He comforted the disturbed and
disturbed the comfortable." Many of the quotes I use can be found in
Father Leonard Foley's book listed in the Sources. For John's
honesty and candidness, he paid the price of a turbulent ministry.
His message is for all clergy, laity and speakers especially
those who engage in speaking, giving instruction, presentations,
oral report or commentary. John is a model for those who need to, or
must, talk most frequently. We know that the tongue praises and
curses God. St James' Epistle informs us that to be faultless in
speech is near perfection. No man can tame the tongue. It can be a
flame or an icicle. It can be as deadly poison or
This powerful speaker was a master of oratory. He
kept huge crowds in the cathedral hanging breathlessly on his words.
In appearance he was short in stature with a large forehead and stocky
It is for his homilies (over six hundred and forty are
extant) that he is most revered, especially those of the letters of
St Paul. He comes best to life as a gentle and sensitive soul in two
hundred and forty surviving letters; most of them were crowded into
the last three years of his life. Glory to God is the constant theme
of these letters. They are written even when he was being driven to
a lonely death by a ruler's hatred.
Priests are given the
most opportunities for preaching by reason of their office. St John
would be the first to say that preaching is not to be equated with
style, articulation, colorful imagery and syntax. All of these help
but they are not necessary. The Church needs preachers who are
imbued and animated by the Spirit. She wants them to speak her
message. It is the Spirit that scrutinizes the deep things of God.
The Spirit of the Lord is like a double edge sword that discerns the
reflections and thoughts of the heart. The heart has its own reason,
which only the Spirit can know, express, and interpret.
church honors Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney as the patron of parish priests.
Why? Not only because of his oratory skills, spiritual knowledge or
long hours in the confessional is he honored. The Cure D' Ars, as he
is often called, is patron of priests mainly because of his
holiness, conformity to God's will, zeal and passion for souls. John
possessed holiness and holiness possessed John. He was intimately
united with Jesus. St John Vianney said: "It is always springtime in
a soul united to God". God rewarded his single-minded pursuit of
holiness by multipling many miracles in Ars, France. This simple
parish priest who lived for others reveals the awesome power of God. Laity and priests will benefit
tremendously by reading and pondering this holy priest's words.
If what we say to others is not what we are doing, we will
soon be discovered as a hypocrite. We need to live out the words of
God if we are going to speak out those same words. St Chrysostom
said what he meant and meant what he said. He spoke and acted from
the heart. He did not care about "rocking the boat". Everyone knows
that certain people can get away with criticism if it is conveyed in
the right spirit. John spoke truth boldly. He didn't care if it
offended others. Principles came first. He did not curry favor. He
spoke honestly and told it according to the gospel. Again, it is not
what people do but how they do it that plays a significant factor.
We know that actions speak louder than words. John's words
registered, riled, and penetrated hearts and minds deeply. Those who
are faithless or have sluggish faith, only a miracle can help. John
asserted that miracles are for non-believers.
Preaching is a
profession, science and an art. It offers information and salvation.
John is called doctor of preachers because he revealed salvation
preaching the same message that Jesus would have spoken. God is
always communicating to our minds and hearts. Our ears pick up
auditory messages but do we actually hear? It is especially through
preachers like John who can move our hearts and minds with divine
inspiration. This powerful preacher wanted his followers to hunger
and thirst for God's will which contains all virtues. Pray for
virtue as St John Chrysostom prayed. He will intercede for you and
help you speak, give, share, and live as God ordains for
St John Chrysostom asks for charity for the leaders of Church in homily 21, 7 on 1 Corinthians listed in Father Rengers' book:
"Indeed, one can observe that our spiritual leaders do not experience so much evil censure and calumny from the pagans as they do from the so-called faithful and those who belong to us. And yet there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that can ruin the Church so easily and surely as when no intimate bond exists anymore between the listeners and the teachers, between the children and their spiritual fathers, between chief and subordinate. Of this I warn you, and I pray you weeping. Cease this wicked custom."
All the doctors of the Church advocated ardently
preaching Jesus Christ crucified. All accomplished it in different
ways. Preachers of any denomination and ordinary Christians of all
persuasion should be ever mindful that Jesus first preached his
message to the world through his carpentry for thirty years. That
was long before his public, active ministry. His mere three years
preaching as an itinerant Rabbi had a solid thirty years of
God allowed Jesus' entire message to be heard in
only three years. In fact, God only needs three seconds of our life
to effect the same results as thirty years actively doing good. God
doesn't need time or years to bring us to accomplish his will for
us. God's example in Jesus, both in his active and inactive ministry
is an inspiration and is sufficient to bring us to perfection with
our total cooperation.
As long as we want God's will
ardently, each can proclaim the good news as effective as John. We
might say that our prayer is our perfect praise to God and becomes
our preaching, attitude or action. Listen to what St John preached about regarding
prayer. "Without prayer it is impossible to lead a good life for no
one can practice virtue except he who humbly implore God's aid. God,
alone, can give us the necessary strength. He who ceases to love and
practice prayer no longer possesses the gifts of the Spirit. But he
that perseveres in the service of God and deems it an irreparable
loss to miss constant prayer, possesses every virtue and is a friend
St John's powerful words tell us that prayer seals
us with the Paraclete. The living Spirit makes our prayers praise
and proclaim God's holiness and goodness. The mighty work of God is
first and foremost the work of creation, redemption, salvation, and
Preaching is prayer and prayer is preaching.
Pray that you persevere in the service of God regardless of your
work, profession or calling. Be assured that all conversations with
the Creator are cherished and prized infinitely. If it remains
constant, all one's confidence, care and concern will be blessed and
rewarded bountifully even in this life. Then, your infinite
Caretaker will transform you into God's beloved.
Chrysostom tells us information about Mary that is impossible to
imagine. For example, John informs us that Mary has been given to
each of us in the same manner as God gave Mary to Joseph. Even
though Joseph and Mary were actually married by law, Mary was not
given to Joseph for marriage only. Mary was given to Joseph and us in
order that she may be with us. Mary has been given to us in order
that we may be united with her. She was entrusted to Joseph in the
same manner that Christ later entrusted her to the disciple John the
Apostle who represented us at the foot of the cross on
Chrysostom must have had a strong devotion to St Joseph
as well as Mary. There is a powerful sermon he relates in commenting
on the fatherhood of St Joseph. It is a lesson for husbands and
wives. It is especially important for those who are considering
leaving, separating or divorcing their spouses. It does not matter
if the man is thinking about doing this to the wife or vice-versa.
St John tells us as he comments on the husband of Mary that he
should stay with her and receive her despite all evidence and
justification for leaving her. This was after he discovered that she
was with child. No matter the reasons we have, all spouses should
pause and meditate on St John's words when it comes to a question of
divorce or separation.
Joseph had every right to leave Mary
because he knew that Mary's child was not his seed. However, he didn't
want to hurt her. Imagine the test that Joseph had in following his
reason and feelings. This was a terrible conflict and only a holy
intervention by the angel prevented him from leaving
Married couples need to do everything that is possible
to make a marriage work. God helps those couples that sincerely try
to help themselves in generous attempts. By having their hearts and
minds open daily to the words of God, spoken and implied, our Father
will guide their steps to accomplish his will in spite of the
difficulty or hardship. God gives instructions through many people
and the majority of God's advice we receive in weekly homilies by
holy servants such as St John Chrysostom, the doctor of preachers.
Others receive wise advice through marriage counselors. Some
marriages are impossible to remedy if one party doesn't cooperate or
a sincere effort is missing. I have personally known situations
where couples have overlooked infidelity many times in an attempt to
save a marriage. Sometimes it works. God sees and blesses our
valiant efforts. That is what counts. The Spirit must guide us if we
are children of God.
The church has officially declared that
there are over 100 married saints in heaven awaiting our recourse,
prayers and petitions to them. These are saints, but there could be millions unknown. They are eager to hear from us to
bless us. They are there exclusively for us. The book, Secular
Saints by author Joan Carroll Cruz, listed in the Doctoral Sources/Link at the bottom of the homepage,
is a testament to these lovers of God, his mother and all
humanity. One particular example and certainly one of my favorite
saints is Catherine of Genoa celebrated on September 15th. Her husband was unfaithful to her. She
even cared for his daughter after he died although Catherine did not
have any children. What is more amazing is that it was through her
prayers and kindness to him that he was converted and later lived a
dedicated life to God. Rather than feel hostile for what he did,
Catherine, prayed for him and pitied him due to his ignorance and
fall from virtue that can happen to anyone. The married state is
packed with seductions, greed and a million, "nice" temptations that
twist and allure us into the gutter ever so sweetly.
are millions of other married saints that we do not know in heaven. Many can aid us through our
intercessory prayers, who we have known in our lifetime, when we implore their assistance.
states of life including marriage, there are many little pleasures
that grow out of proportion unless checked by grace, prayer and
God's blessing. Gambling is an example. This can happen to anyone
and it starts innocently and before we realize it we can become
addictive. A simple thing such as buying a lottery ticket can become
an overriding passion. The same thing can happen with drinking,
eating, and purchasing things. More than 5 million Americans are
pathological or problem gamblers and another 15 million are at risk
of becoming like them. The Associated Press reporting a finding by
the National Gambling Impact Study Commission in 1999 that found 20
millions have or could have developed gambling problems. This bad
habit can start as early as 12 years old.
Today humankind is
packed with pathological shoppers, workers, worriers, eaters,
dieters, exercisers, smokers and a thousand other petty vices not
counting gambling. If there are three virtues that most of us lack
is balance, modesty and patience. Most of us have a tendency to
overdue manners because of a lack of virtue. St John is a great
model for the just distribution of material goods and less of a
preoccupation about our selves and excessive indulging.
ought to seriously pay attention to every homily or sermons preached
that we might know and learn. God is always telling us something and
reminding us about the divine laws. God has a way of pricking our
conscience for behaviors that can lead to sin or advance to virtues. What we feel may not
be perceived harmful at first but it may be detrimental to our
spiritual development later. It can also lead to serious problems
such as gambling. Everyone has a lot to learn from John.
Joseph's love for Mary was
extraordinary. His love for God was greater. He couldn't have the
former without the latter. Joseph was ready to leave Mary because of
his love for God. He came first. What faith!
The messages of
St John Chrysostom can impart deeper faith, hope and charity when we
resolve to do God's will in spite of the many tests and trials that
afflict us. It is that holy Flame, which we allow to penetrate,
enlighten, and transform us, that will make John's message our own by
the way we move, think, live, and embrace it as our very
Chrysostom holds a central point of honor in
Catholicism. In the mother of all churches, St Peters in Rome, he is
depicted in the center apse behind the main altar standing near the
Chair of Peter. This illustrates his obedience and total support to
the head of the Church, Jesus Christ, represented by the Pope. He is with Sts. Athanasius, Basil and
Gregory Nazianzum one of the four great Eastern Doctors of the Church. And, his relics have remained in St Peters in Rome since 1204.
Many of the doctors were exiled time and time again but most
returned to their see or place of residence. However, John died in
exile. He surrendered to divine providence by trusting completely.
His total abandonment to the church and God are not equaled. Despite
the ill treatment, subterfuge, and sabotaging he received from foe
and friends alike, some of which included the clergy, his last words
indicated his holistic attitude and holiness. Drawing his last
breath and exhausted by traveling he uttered "Glory be to God for
St John discovered God's glory not only when he
died but when he was united to Jesus in the Eucharist. Listen to
"How many in these times say: would that I could gaze
upon His form, His figure, His garment, His shoes! Lo! Thou seest
Him, touchest Him, eatest Him. He gives Himself to thee, not merely
to look upon, but even to touch, to eat, and to receive within...
Consider at whose table thou eatest! For we are fed with that which
the angels view with trepidation and which they cannot contemplate
without fear because of Its splendor. We become one with Him: we
become one Body and one Flesh with Christ."... "Jesus, for the
burning love He bore us, wished to unite Himself so closely to us
that we should become one and the same with Him for such is the
dream of true lovers."... "Holy Communion makes us eager for virtue
and prompt to practice it, at the same time imparting deep peace,
and thus rendering sweet and easy the road to holiness." St John is
also called: "The Doctor of the Eucharist".
other doctors, according to Rengers' Doctor book, listed in the
sources, received this glorious title among all the 33 doctors. Here
we might recall another comparison. Among the 264 popes, it is only
St Pius X that is best remembered for his encouragement of the
frequent reception of Holy Communion, especially by children. There
can be no doubt, that Pius had read and studied Chrysostom and knew
that the best way to "restore all things in Christ" was to proclaim
the immeasurable benefits of the Eucharist. The "Doctor of the
Eucharist" and the Pope of the Eucharist clearly tell us that more
than himself, Christ could not give and less than himself, he would
All the doctors were lovers of the Eucharist and
oriented toward everyone in an eucharistic manner. Many have
expressed beautiful quotes on the "Bread of Heaven" and the "Cup of our
Salvation" at the website www.therealpresence.org. The Real Presence
Association, Inc., and Eucharistic Education and Adoration may be
contacted at 773-586-7809. By going to the below site and clicking
on Eucharist and then Personal Testimonies, one will see 14
beautiful pages of sublime statements and experiences on the Holy
excellent source is by going to
http://www.bobandpennylord.com or calling
1-800-633-2484 one will find many histories and miracles on the
Eucharist that will profoundly amaze you.
As John is considered the Doctor of the Eucharist let us consider the MOTHER OF THE EUCHARIST on this site-(what you are about to see may be a bit shocking and surprising):
additional links on St John:
The Doctor of the Eucharist has much to share with us when we spend time with our Lord in thanksgiving after communion each day when possible. It is there we will realize that God is calling us to be perfect despite our imperfections, calling us to spiritual union despite our disunity in actions and words and calling us to please God in all manners despite our displeasing sins. The spiritual Fire that the eucharist contains is the same Flame that burned in the bush that transformed Moses' face on Mount Sinai where he received the Ten Commandments. Others will see our illumination on our face when we act kindly and charitable in our words and actions.
A fascinating link of St John Chrysostom taken from the web site below from the ministry of Dr Marcellino D'Ambrosio plus much more.
Saint John Chrysostom
The below web site contains comprehensive resources on our church, faith, the bible, saints, writings, apologetics, evangelization, family issues, links, and many pertinent services. This superior and highly organized web site (see Table of Content) is a most fascinating site with beautiful prayers, devotions, and really too much to enumerate. A truly universal catholic site.