St. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
September 13 is the memorial of St. John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407), one of the most famous Fathers, Doctors, and bishops of the Catholic Church. Known to be one of the most prominent speakers of his time, St. John Chrysostom suffered much for his positions as a Catholic bishop, from both secular and Church authorities.
Born in Antioch, St. John Chrysostom studied law as a young man, but then became a hermit for several years. In 381, he became a deacon. He was later ordained as a priest and served in his native city of Antioch. It was there that his powerful and eloquent oratory earned him the title “Chrysostom” (golden-mouthed). His homilies ranged from the Gospels to personal conversion to the moral reformation of society. He delivered 88 sermons alone on the Gospel of St. John.
St. John Chrysostom was offered the position of Bishop of Constantinople (the imperial capital), which he initially declined, but later accepted in 398. John tried to avoid politics as he exercised his pastoral duties, but frequently became involved in controversy. His initial popularity faded as his reforms troubled many priests, monastic leaders and secular leaders. His sermons were frequently critical of the rich and powerful, which made him numerous enemies. He also prevented the sale of clerical offices and called for fidelity in marriage, which further alienated the aristocracy.
In 403, John’s enemies, led by the empress and the bishop of Alexandria, charged him with heresy and transgressions. The emperor sent him into temporary exile, but soon recalled him. Riots forced the authorities to bring him back; however, John was exiled permanently, first to Armenia, then to Spain, where he died on September 14, 407 while being forced to march in the hot sun. His last words were, “Glory to God for all things.”
He is honored as a Doctor of the Eucharist for his eloquent witness to the Real Presence. With St. Athanasius, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom forms the group of the four great Doctors of the Eastern Church. He is the patron of preachers, speakers, and epilepsy.
St. John Chrysostom Quotes
‘The rich man is not one who is in possession of much, but one who gives much.”
“Chastity uplifts sex to its true nobility and dignity. It gives sex its true beauty and glory. Chastity enables us, through our sexuality, to give glory to Christ in our body.”
“As water extinguishes fire, so prayer extinguishes the heat of the passions.”
“Charity is the scope of all God’s commands.”
“Feeding the hungry is a greater work than raising the dead.”
“Riches are not forbidden . . . but the pride of them is.”
“The desire to rule is the mother of heresies.”
“Prayer should be the means by which I, at all times, receive all that I need, and, for this reason, be my daily refuge, my daily consolation, my daily joy, my source of rich and inexhaustible joy in life.”
“The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together.”