Today's Saint (January 27): John Chrysostom, Bishop

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One of the Doctors of the Church, John was the Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th century. He was given the last name of "Chrysostom" ("golden mouth" in Greek) by his followers, because of his great preaching abilities.

As a monk, and later as special assistant to the bishop of Antioch, he cared for the physical and spiritual needs of the poor. Putting his faith into practice enabled his sermons to be practical applications of Scripture for all Christians who are "in" and not "of" the world.

John gives us a powerful lesson by way of his troubles with the empress Eudoxia, the rich patroness wife of the Roman Arcadius. After first supporting Chrysostom, Eudoxia subsequently used her influence with weak willed bishops to wage a power struggle against Chrysostom.

A contemporary of Eudoxia and John - Philostorgius - describes her as both gifted and flawed, saying that "the woman was not a dullard like her husband" but that "she possessed no small degree of barbarian arrogance." Unfortunately, the largesse of Eudoxia, coupled with the spineless bishops of the day, succeeded in having John exiled from his diocese, where he subsequently died separated from his people and cure. At John's funeral, the preacher recalled Eudoxia's complicity in John's life and death, calling her "a second Jezebel, a captive of the devil... clothed in the insatiable power of greed and considerable wickedness."

Chrysosom's wrestlings with the rich and powerful have many lessons for moderns, all of which end with the necessity to stand strong against all assaults of the Faith, no matter if they come from outside - through the worldly rich and powerful - or within the faith, by way of weak-willed, faithless, fearful, temporally focused bishops.

Therefore, pray for strong, faithful bishops, who will remain true to the faith of Christ crucifed, no matter the cost to them personally. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (The day's Gospel, page, E21, People's Anglican Missal)

The accompanying picture is a mosaic which resides in the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

John is one of the favorite saints of the writer (+dm) of this hagiography.

The Day's Propers
Catholic Encyclopedia Article

Books Worth Considering
On Living Simply: The Golden Voice of John Chrysostom
On Marriage and Family Life
On Wealth and Poverty

Early Christian Lives (Penguin Classics)
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church