Saint of the Week: John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom is known for his speech more then anything else. The title Chrysostom comes from the Greek surname chrysostomos, meaning “golden mouthed.” He wrote some of the greatest sermons in the history of the Church, and is responsible for the creation of the Liturgy that is still in use in the Orthodox church.

We remember him this week for it was on September 14th that he died in 407 with these last words, “”δόξα τῷ θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν” which mean “Glory be to God for all things”

Here is what you need to know about John Chrysostom:

  1. He wrote widely circulated Homilies that were direct and personal. His Easter Homily (which I have included below) is still read every Easter in many churches.
  2. He is concidered by many to be the greatest liturgist of all time. His Liturgy is used in Orthodox churches almost every week
  3. His theology is still influential. He is quoted in 18 sections of the Catechism of the catholic Church.
  4. A strange legend developed about Chrysostom in which he fathers a child with a Princess, then tries to kill her, thinking he succeeds he goes to Rome to beg forgiveness. He is denied, and walks on all fours like a beast eating grass as penance. One day the princess appears with their child, and forgives him. Weird huh?
  5. His relics were stolen by the Catholics when they sacked Constantinople in 1204. They were returned in 2004 by John Paul II. What a nice guy.
The Paschal Homily of John Chrysostom

If anyone is devout and a lover of God, let them enjoy this beautiful and radiant festival.
If anyone is a grateful servant, let them, rejoicing, enter into the joy of his Lord.
If anyone has wearied themselves in fasting, let them now receive recompense.
If anyone has labored from the first hour, let them today receive the just reward.
If anyone has come at the third hour, with thanksgiving let them feast.
If anyone has arrived at the sixth hour, let them have no misgivings; for they shall suffer no loss.
If anyone has delayed until the ninth hour, let them draw near without hesitation.
If anyone has arrived even at the eleventh hour, let them not fear on account of tardiness.
For the Master is gracious and receives the last even as the first; he gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first.
He has mercy upon the last and cares for the first; to the one he gives, and to the other he is gracious.
He both honors the work and praises the intention.
Enter all of you, therefore, into the joy of our Lord, and, whether first or last, receive your reward.
O rich and poor, one with another, dance for joy!
O you ascetics and you negligent, celebrate the day!
You that have fasted and you that have disregarded the fast, rejoice today!
The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you!
The calf is fatted; let no one go forth hungry!
Let all partake of the feast of faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness.
Let no one lament their poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed.
Let no one mourn their transgressions, for pardon has dawned from the grave.
Let no one fear death, for the Saviour’s death has set us free.
He that was taken by death has annihilated it!
He descended into Hades and took Hades captive!
He embittered it when it tasted his flesh! And anticipating this Isaiah exclaimed: “Hades was embittered when it encountered thee in the lower regions“.
It was embittered, for it was abolished!
It was embittered, for it was mocked!
It was embittered, for it was purged!
It was embittered, for it was despoiled!
It was embittered, for it was bound in chains!
It took a body and came upon God!
It took earth and encountered heaven!
It took what it saw but crumbled before what it had not seen!
O death, where is thy sting? O Hades, where is thy victory?
Christ is risen, and you are overthrown!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life reigns!
Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in a tomb!
For Christ, being raised from the dead, has become the first-fruits of them that slept.
To him be glory and might unto ages of ages. Amen.
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