Chrysologus, 400-450. Doctor of Homilies, Feast July
What can the only doctor of the church, who was born in
the fifth century, enlighten us about our faith today? Plenty! Even
though we can hardly pronounce his name and he is largely unknown,
Peter can teach us much knowledge of God, especially through his
homilies. None of the doctors have a more powerful message today than what
this holy bishop has to say to us in the new millennium. Peter's
fame and his significant contributions to the church comes from his
brief, but powerful homilies. His extraordinary zeal to learn and
assist others to learn about Christ are his telling trademarks. His
unswerving loyalty and obedience to the church reveal his
fascinating faith, holiness, and profound love for God and neighbor.
Let us reflect on Peter's priceless advice from one of his homilies: There are three things, my brethren, which causes faith to stand firm, devotion to remain constant and virtue to endure. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains and mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting are one. They give life to each other.
If there are any words more provocative and exact for Christian perfection then it should include Peter's counsel above. This wise gospel message contains an abundance of beatitudes and gifts of the Spirit. His expression is at the heart of Jesus' daily messages for everyone. Peter's homilies have the power to renew us amazingly.
Homilies can be like sweet music
to the ear and joy to the heart. The homily during the catholic mass
is a vital part of the Liturgy of the Word. It follows the reading
of the gospel and is the explanation and elaboration on the
celebration of the Word. This part of the liturgical service,
offered immediately before the celebration of the Liturgy of the
Eucharist, prepares its members to fully enter into the worship of
God. It also prepares us to be empowered and enlighten to fully
partake of the holy meal. Each liturgical celebration of the mass is
an extension of the "Last Supper" that the Lord shared with his dear friends.
He changed himself during this meal into precious food that
fortifies us and enables us to proceed on our spiritual journey.
More importantly, this meal strengthens us and enables us by
transforming us into himself. That's right! Imagine being changed into another Christ? When this
happens we'll be able to do and say what Christ would do or say himself. Is that possible? Believe it!
It's Catholic theology.
The theme of transformation is
at the heart of Christ's coming not only in the bread but also in his word. Christ physically and
touches us to change us dramatically. His daily messages in the
gospel have the power to make us new creatures. His body is not symbolic. It is real food.
Only faith discovers God's flesh.
back upon St Peter's words and reflecting we will get a better
perspective of God's word. One way for transformation to take place
is to be aware of a false doctrine that surfaced in Peter's day
called Monophysitism. This false teaching and heresy that Peter
spoke out against states that Jesus had only one nature and not two.
This is a false and insidious statement or belief because it is not true and limits. It does not
encourage us to approach Jesus who is like us - human. In addition Jesus is
the eternal Word, the Divine Being. If Jesus is only human, how can he
unite us to the divine and transform us? If he is only divine, how
can we feel comfortable as humans and identify with him in a
The church through the wisdom of Peter
and others stated in the Chalcedonian doctrine that Jesus is both
human and divine. He came to divinize our fallen human nature into
his. We must of course pray and do God's holy will as he did in
order to be graced with divinization and unity. By attentive
listening and earnestly attempting to imitate the lessons of
homilies we can be transformed. God's Spirit will alert us to any
information that could mislead or prevents us from intimate union
with Jesus Christ. This could happen due to our misinterpretation of
the homily than the speaker.
When a priest, deacon or laity
delivers a homily, we ought to pray both for the speaker and
ourselves. Why? To be on the same wavelength as the Holy Spirit who
is inspiring the listeners and the speaker. It really doesn't matter
who is speaking as long as they are speaking their best. God will do
the rest. We should not get "hung up" on the preciseness,
originality, and the style of the speaker. It is God's word and
message. Its application will be most significant to us when we are
attuned to the Holy Spirit. God has a way of getting the message
across regardless of the speaker. God can write straight lines with
The Word of God is power. It is a two-edged
sword that cuts into the marrow and joints of our body. It enkindles
and quickens our spirit. The Holy Spirit is able to change and transform
us. Before each homily there is a beautiful prayer from the liturgy
requesting that God would cleanse our heart, mind, and lips with a
burning coal as the prophet Isaiah. As we place the sign of the
cross on our forehead, lips and heart, we might ask for the same
cleansing fire in order that the word of God penetrates our mind,
senses and spirit. Our intelligence and memory will be bathed with
light; our imagination and curiosity clothed with grace and our
senses will be restored to perfect order and
Father Rengers' book, The 33 Doctors of the Church, listed in the doctoral sources/links, starts
writing about Saint Peter Chrysologus, the Golden-Worded, with this
quote from Peter's 96th sermon - May our God deign to give me
the grace of speaking and you the desire of hearing.
Spirit also empowers us with divine receptivity, interpretation and
insight on how to apply the words in our daily life. It also
encourages us to act charitable as Christ did. The more we desire to
be instructed by the word of God the more we will be guided by the
Jesus Christ being the Word is an all-powerful
and effective instrument for all, especially, sinners. We need to be
transformed because sinners are imprisoned and attached to selfish
ways. The Spirit of God and the Word of God desire to rush in upon
us and unite us with our Father in perfect accord and unity. We
take on and are clothed with God's attributes. We become divinized
when we are prepared, tuned-in, expect and hope. We will expect more
from God as our confidence develops. God is just and merciful to
those who expect and hope. God will give supernatural light and
graces to both parties-the speaker and the listener to penetrate us
Our faith can be fortified with each homily with
harmonious attunement. When we turn the ears of our heart toward
God, we become more prepared to receive the meaning of God's words.
Blessings and graces are constantly being given to us when we
cooperate and are attuned to the Holy Spirit. We should be reminded
of Jesus' words regarding homilies: he who hears you, hears me . Each
homily provides new and different directions and advice.
Christianity, in Peter's era, was in the process of becoming
both religiously and politically, a dominant presence in the
Peter's fame came as a preacher. He got the
gospel message out to the parishes, communities and churches. In
Peter's day it was the forum for proclaiming the word of God.
Homilies today are enlightening forces throughout the world even
though constant media communications and endless talk bombard us.
When one communicates with God's Holy Spirit through
listening, talking, writing, or praying, there is something extra
special that happens. It is not just communication. Depending on the
receptivity and willingness of the receiver, the spirit-filled
communicator makes common to all what God possesses. More
importantly, one receives what primarily belongs to God. It is not only from the speaker. They are the borrowed instrument by which God communicates.
exactly did Peter have that was so special? Holiness! His name
"Chrysologus" means literally "he of the golden words". Peter,
according to contemporary accounts, was a spellbinding preacher not
necessarily for what he said but how and with what spirit he said
A spirit-filled homily can begin to change your life,
inspire you to make a resolution, encourage you to alter your
attitude or reveal how to behave differently. Nearly anyone can
convey or transfer something intangible such as a word, a message or
a story. But to get the message across effectively with great
results requires first a clear, sincere, inspired message. Secondly,
readiness and preparation on the part of the listener is critical.
We need to accept and receive the full impact of the speaker and
message. St Peter Chrysologus was that type of person who was
greatly infused with God's words in his homilies. The new catechism
provides excerpts from his homilies.
Peter was a vigorous
defender of truth and proponent of Christian morality. What he had
to say was so emotional that it may take your breath away. In fact,
it often took Peter's own breath away, and at times, he often
appeared speechless in trying to formulate the truth he had to
convey. His message was bigger than life. How does one describe the
indescribable riches and treasures of the gospels except to stutter
and stammer? One can't describe God. One only experiences God.
The life, action and words of
reveal the infinite mercy and wisdom of God. His life can impress
and touch each of us with God's incomparable and incomprehensible
perfect example and model. Every gesture, glance, posture, feeling,
expression, breath and touch that the Redeemer showed, spoke, or described has
the power to transform us instantly if we allow it. God is alive
now. Scripture says that God is from everlasting to everlasting.
This might sound redundant to the "worldly" person. However, to the
reverent and spiritually sensitive, each word of scripture, or a
homily based upon the gospel is as a precious mirror to their soul
and has profound and personal depth and meaning.
to learn more about God and share it with others. With this great
quest and attitude for learning, God touched him. And because of
God, his attitude and quest for knowing God, he became most
passionate. This desire and energy provided fire, warmth and
excitement to his exhortations, sermons and homilies. NEXT TO
VIRTUE, LEARNING WAS, IN PETER'S VIEW, THE GREATEST IMPROVER OF THE
HUMAN MIND AND THE MAIN SUPPORT OF TRUE RELIGION.
afraid of fatiguing the attention of his listeners and spoke for
brief time-limits. He also spoke with such vehemence that he
sometimes became speechless from the excitement he was aiming to
share with those who were listening to him.
is sad but spiritual ignorance is a pitiful condition and state that
we allow ourselves to sink into or become trapped and immersed. It
hides or distorts the truth and doesn't motivate us to want to learn
or change. Our reluctance to hear God's words in sermons, homilies
and religious discussions places us into a state of listlessness,
lethargy, and indifference that cripple us spiritually and leads to
moral quicksand. This condition sinks our minds into ignorance or
misconceptions or blocks the truth. Our vices victimize us. Our
hidden sins camouflage virtue. God hides goodness from the proud and
lukewarm and reveals truth to the pure, simple and those attentive
and prepared for his Word. Peter would also tell us that the devil
tries to destroy beginnings. He is ferocious and has an insatiable
cruelty and jealousy for us to gain heaven especially since he was
tossed out. Many of Peter's sermons inform us of his vicious lies,
diabolical snares, and enviable cunning.
desiring to learn more about the things of God is a great gift. It
can begin anew every time we hear a homily. We might petition God to
inspire us through many people and not only those in the pulpit, but
also, in the workplace, with neighbors and with all those we meet
daily in our current activities and conversations.
nearly impossible to be a Christian unless we grow. If we fail to
use our talents, God permits us to become what we choose. Many
people are depressed daily. What is most sad to see and hear is that
many people are often possessed, obsessed, suppressed and repressed.
Our human condition without grace weakens into oppression and
depression. Often, trials, tests, and challenges that God permits
cause these. However, in many instances, human nature experiences
these painful ordeals because we fail to cooperate or allow
ourselves to be moved or touched by grace, gifts, or God's Spirit.
These gifts and graces, God bestows abundantly each day on those who
ask, seek and pray in Jesus' name.
Sin robs us of God. All
sin cheats us. Evil steals away our life and the joy of living. We
are all sinners and therefore we would be wise to beseech God to
allow us to be aware of his love for us poor sinners and help us
detest sin. Ask God for distaste for sin. Sin blinds us and we
hardly recognized we are sinners. We need insight. We need inner
perception. We need interior clarity of mind and heart to be aware
of evil and its surreptitious trickery. Human nature without grace
has a tremendous propensity and proclivity for mendacity, pride and
selfishness. Pray daily for daily perfection. It is available when
we believe. We pray to believe. We pray to love. We pray to become
human and divine as Our Lord and become all that He
Life is a learning process and as long as we are
attempting to better others or ourselves God will help us grow
spiritually. Desire is hope for improvement and betterment. Peter's
homilies, and all spiritual messages, especially from the scriptures
and the gospels, will exhort us to become more fully human as Jesus
Christ and to expand one's knowledge and the love of God.
creation shouts to us about God's goodness and gifts. The heavens
reveal the majesty of God. Every creature tells us about God's power
and love. Homilies can be silent and audible. Peter would say with
St Francis de Sales (see link below) that a modest demeanor is a silent sermon. All
created things, be it beauty or ugliness, small or large, strong or
weak, tall or short, black or white cries aloud the sublime gifts of
the Creator. God's message and awe are implanted and imparted in the
entire Creator's work.
St. Francis de Sales 1/24
Homilies have a way of piercing the
rough edges of our mind and heart by melting the frozen (fixed
dispositions and attitudes) and warming the chill (lack of ardor or
piety). Virtues and vices can make or break us. Homilies can shake
us up, startle and make us realize our condition, state of mind and
level of sincerity toward God and disposition of our souls. Inspired
homilies inform us of God's holiness surrounding us. Then,
prejudices, bias and contempt will ebb away and have less a hold on
Peter Chrysologus was a master homilist. Homilies are not
just words. They are more than communication. When one speaks with
God's Spirit, homilies can embed and imprint profound truths from the heart and
mind of God. They are God's designs and secrets for each of us in a
personal and intimate manner. Homilies are invitations to "take
heart" and learn to seek God's heart and mind. St Peter's message is
the same as St Gregory of Nyssa who said: "to find God is to go on
seeking God". Homilies invite us home to heaven-to the heart of love
and life in God. Holy words can start a foundation; they can implode and explode in and around us
-that's impressive; words can impregnate us and have a direct connection to the Word of God, Jesus.
Reflect often: The Word became Flesh and dwelt among us.
Jesus Christ, the master Homilist, par
excellence, taught Peter that God's Spirit is the same for each of
us. He said heaven is where the heart is and the heart is where
heaven is. A homily can plunge us into the kingdom of God. Take
heart (be confident) and cry to Peter for his golden words of
wisdom. His words will register and reveal in you spiritual
insights. All homilies have the power to have a major impact offered
during the mass. Go to mass more frequently. Hope to become more
learned as well as more holy through God's graces and touches
received during the homily. Learning and holiness through homilies
go hand and hand with learning to sharing God.
wholeheartedly defended the humanity of Jesus Christ. During the 5th
century Christ's humanness came under intense question and
disbelief. Heresies spread during this era. A priest, Nestorian,
perpetuated the Nestorian heresy. It stated that Christ was divided.
On the other hand, Peter insisted that Jesus Christ, as a person was
one undivided. Chrysologus' inspiring words helped defeat and quiet
the attacks on Christ's humanity. For that reason, Peter may also be
considered the doctor of Christ's Humanity for his staunch defense
of the "Everlasting Man". He defended Christ by stating: "… we can
not judge on matters of faith without the consent of the Roman
Today, divisions reign abundantly in
religion. Why? The basic reason is different beliefs, attitudes and
opinions. The Catholic Church requires submission to the Pope in
matters of faith and when he speaks from the "chair".
Submission to others in humility is central to Christianity.
Obedience promotes unity and peace. The man of the golden words
wrote: If peace of the Church causes joy in heaven, then
division must give birth to grief. Union with God and unity among
all are common goals in life.
It is consoling to note that
the risen, radiant Redeemer breathes the Spirit of his Love into us when
we pray, cry or act justly. God's love buoys us up, when we are
down, sinking morally or in turbulent waters (tempted). The Spirit
of the resurrected One (who descended into death) was raised up. His
power enabled him to ascend to heaven. The same power will give us
new vivacity and resilience when we sin and when we are truly contrite. The Spirit of Love is both a
promise and a power to defeat the power of sin. Sin has its own
power and promise. They are all seductions and lies. By exercising
radical obedience and submission to God, as Christ, we too will
share in Christ's glorious state now and after death. We need to be
reminded that Christ learned obedience so we too can learn. Peter's
homilies remind us of God's gift and graces so that we can learn. We
should be eager to learn and be obedient as Jesus.
mystery of Jesus Christ as true God and true Man is a profound truth
and belief. Catholics acknowledge this sublime mystery when we
participate in the mass and say the creed. The best way to grasp it
is to submit and accept the mystery of the Incarnation in simple
faith. Logic and reason are not the answers to accept this pure
gift. God's revelation to all creatures that have ever lived, and
who will be born in the many tomorrows, is somehow intricately
connected to the Eternal Word. He is the same yesterday, today and
forever. This Eternal Word, externalized in expression and humanized
in Flesh, born of a woman, is an immeasurable treasure and adorable
blessing. In matters of faith, to receive this gift, requires
humility, submission and acceptance of others despite opinions,
preferences and personal values or belief.
Our saint, Peter,
assures us that we only become fully human by wanting to expand our
knowledge whether sacred or secular according to our talents, gifts
St Peter Chrysologus has been declared a
Doctor of the Church after nearly 1500 years. Unfortunately, many
have nearly forgotten him. But the church in her wisdom through
Benedict XIII in 1729 has entered his name into the august class of
doctors. Many doctors and Christians down through the ages hold fast
to this Jewish carpenter as a lovely reminder that all flesh is
sacred because of the eternal Man-God. To hear about him in sermons
and homilies as Peter proclaimed years ago and others express today
is a divine blessing, each and every time. There is something always
new about this infinite, human Being who desires our thoughts,
feelings and affections daily. Saint Augustine, Doctor of the Church, wrote: Christ is ever ancient and ever new.
God earnestly wants to unite us to
himself in order to transform us and be supportive for
Unity is the essential life of a Christian as it is
the essence of God. The Creator urges us to imitate the very best.
To help reach closeness with God, our saint wants us to fast at
times. The Lenten Season is an excellent time to do this and specifically designated by Christ who fasted for 40 days and nights and it is listed in scripture.
The church tells us that it is a necessary discipline. Peter
tells us only one thing about fasting: it obtains! Obtains what? The
spirit of gratitude. We ought to be grateful that we have the
ability to fast because many people can not. However, with God's
Holy Spirit to guide us we do not only have to perform traditional
fasting such as the absence of food and drink. We can fast with our
eyes and all of our senses by restricting them lawful pleasures and
preoccupation. We need to discern how to do this. Spiritual advice,
a wise spiritual director, books and listening to homilies might
fill the bill. If we are open to God, his message will get through
and penetrate us with transforming results.
Fasting has not
been dwelt upon too much with the doctors. Perhaps the church has
emphasized fasting in times past more than today. Jesus mentions
fasting in the gospels. One would never fathom or exhaust the
spiritual pleasure or the supernatural knowledge of Jesus' words.
Whether he talked about fasting or any subject, there is always an
infinite depth to be discovered in his words. It is with God's
Spirit that we can truly understand Jesus' words and grasp their
In addition to the doctors
and Jesus' words about fasting, Mary, his Mother, has some priceless
advice about the subject and effects of fasting. Obviously, these
are not taken from the gospels because the focus there is on Jesus
and his inexhaustible "Good News". Although the church takes no
definitive stance about many of Mary's words in apparitions and
appearance, one particular event going on for over twenty years
ought to be looked upon with an open mind.
Apparitions are rarely mentioned on the doctors' site. The church has approved very few and takes
no position on some because they are still going on presently. Medjugorge is such a case and because if the church
later approves this happening we will have twenty years of messages
(homilies) from the Mother of God. Who can speak better about the
Messiah of God than the Mother of the Messiah of God?
is what Mary said about fasting and is taken from the book entitled
Words From Heaven
Fasting stops wars,
suspends the law of nature,
purifies the heart,
brings the kingdom nearer
and Mary encourages us to
It prepares us daily for the coming of Christ.
This book is based on Medjugorje. The messages in the past have been
found from http://www.catholic.net/.
At one time only three of the six visionaries have received all 10 secrets
(as of 2/5/00). The other three have already received 9 of the 10
secrets. When these remaining three have received the 10 secrets,
God's warning will take place. (This is not the end of the world but
a sign that all will know that the Medjugorge events for over 20
years are authentic.) Our Lady is telling us that she wants prayer,
fasting, reading the bible, reconciliation and liturgical functions
like going to communion. These will avert many maladies that could
happen. Some things have already been averted thanks to prayer and
Father Gambero's book listed in the Sources states
that St Peter expressed his unbounded admiration for the mystery
wrought in the Mother of the Lord and the greatness of her
vocation. He sees her greatness as tied in a certain way to God's
own greatness to the point of thinking that it is impossible to
comprehend God correctly without reflecting on the mystery of Mary.
He mentions the miracle of her virginity, her spouse, St Joseph, the
Eve-Mary parallel, devotion to her and much more. She nursed Him
who nurtured every living thing . Father goes on to say that Mary
had two spouses. Mary's divine marriage with her Son compared to the
human marriage with St Joseph.
In reality, Mary has many more
spouses. One is the church. The church is Mary's mystical or
heavenly spouse. Joseph was her earthly spouse. Joseph is The Patron
of the Church and Mary is The patroness of the Church. She is also
its mother, model and messenger.
Father Christopher Rengers'
book, already mentioned, has this to conveny about St Mary: All of us
receive our truest value from our union with Christ. The closer our
union, the more do we share in his life and the more glory do we
give to God. This basic thought brings St Peter Chrysologus
logically to the first one who was most closely and most uniquely
united to Christ, his own mother.
Let those come and hear who
ask who he is whom Mary brought forth: That which is begotten in
her is of the Holy Spirit. Let those come and hear who have striven to
becloud the clarity of the Latin tongue by a whirlwind of Greek, and
have blasphemously call her anthropotokos ("mother of the human
nature") and Christotokos ("Mother of Christ") in order to rob her
of the title Theotokos "Mother of God". (Sermon 145 )
Apart from our Lord, the singular messenger who speaks not
from earth but from heaven, is the Mother of God. That is Mary.
Certainly her messages usually given to her seers, must be approved
by the catholic church to be authentic and trustworthy, but even in this manner, a catholic is
not required to believe it because it is outside the normal approve, authorized way. When an apparation
is approved that means
that it is worthy of your belief but not required. That's one of the difference but there is more but that
The point is Mary's words
are from heaven and can be trusted. Her words from Guadeloupe,
Fatima and Lourdes, to mention only three, are most powerful and
fruitful and we should be open to them out of reverence, but not requirement.
her Son would do the talking and teaching when he lived on earth.
She has been silent for a long time through divine providence. God
has allows her a more visible presence in the past generation
unlike any others. We certainly do not need her words. In fact, Mary
would tell us to focus on the gospel and do what Jesus tells us as
she mentioned to the servants at Cana.
The church always
recommends Holy Scripture as the authentic word of God. The gospels
are always apart of her main liturgical events. The reverence, the
rubrics and the reading of Holy Writ, the church treats with
tremendous respect and honor.
Mary's words, however, should not
be ignored. There is much to be gained when we look at the beauty,
sound, context, texture, elegance, power and meaning of her words.
If her words and messages do not come from heaven, it is obvious
that no words will ever come from heaven. No one can utter the words
that she speaks unless God dwells within them.
would be wise to explore and ponder Mary's powerful messages when
she speaks to her seers on earth. There are many church approved
books about genuine apparitions. The book that I mentioned, Words
from Heaven, which happens to be about Medjugorje, is only one of
hundreds of books containing aspects of the gospels.
also remember that Jesus wants us to listen to the Woman in Heaven
who taught him how to speak on earth. She is Jesus' seer beyond all
the rest and it would be unwise to fail to listen to the Seat of
Wisdom , one of her many titles.
Peter tells us that fasting obtains.
Obtains what? Whatever you name, fasting will obtain. It's that simple. It has enormous power.
The immediate below link (www.e5 men) will explain masterfully how men and women, and marriages can obtain full
and complete union with the help of fasting.
Links associated with St Peter
abound on the Internet. One exciting sample is below:
is The Bread sown in the virgin, leavened in the Flesh, molded in
His Passion, baked in the furnace of the Sepulchre, placed in the
Churches, and set upon the Altars, which daily supplies Heavenly
Food to the faithful."
- St. Peter Chrysologus (400-450)
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.
St. Peter Chrysologus: Biography and Selected Writings: Early Church Father & Doctor of the Church
by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio is below:
Saint Peter Chrysologus