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Saint of the Day – 27 January – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Bishop, Confessor, Father and Doctor of the Church

Saint of the Day – 27 January – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Bishop, Confessor, Father and Doctor of the Church “Golden Mouthed.”

The Church, in the Lessons of today’s Office,
thus speaks the praises of our Saint.

John, surnamed Chrysostom on account of his golden eloquence, was born at Antioch. Having gone through the study of the law and the profane sciences, he applied himself, with extraordinary application and success, to the study of the Sacred Scriptures.
Having been admitted to Holy Orders and made a Priest of the Church at Antioch, he was appointed Bishop of Constantinople, after the death of Nectarius, by the express wish of the Emperor Arcadius. No sooner had he entered upon the pastoral charge, than he began to inveigh against the licentious lives led by the rich. Thus, his courageous preaching procured him many enemies. He likewise gave great offence to the Empress Eudoxia because he had reproved her, for having appropriated to herself, the money belonging to a widow, name, Callitropa and for having taken possession of some land which was the property of another widow.

At the instigation, therefore, of Eudoxia, several Bishops met together at Chalcedon. Chrysostom was cited to appear, which he refused to do because it was not a Council, either lawfully or publicly convened. Whereupon, he was sent into exile. He had not been gone long, before the people rose in sedition on account of the Saint’s banishment and he was recalled, to the immense joy of the whole City.

But, his continuing to inveigh against the scandals which existed, and his forbidding the games, held before the silver statue of Eudoxia which was set up in the space opposite Sancta Sophia, were urged by certain Bishops, enemies of the Saint, as motives for a second banishment.

The widows and the poor of the City bewailed his departure as that of a father. It is incredible how much Chrysostom had to suffer in this exile and how many he converted to the Christian Faith by his sufferings!

At the very time that Pope Innocent the First, in a Council held at Rome, was issuing a Decree, ordering that Chrysostom should be set at liberty – he was being treated by the soldiers, who were taking him into exile, with unheard of harshness and cruelty.
Whilst passing through Armenia, the holy Martyr Basiliscus, in whose Church he had offered up a prayer, thus spoke to him during the night:
“Brother John! we shall be united together tomorrow.“ Whereupon, on the following morning, Chrysostom received the Sacrament of the Eucharist and, signing himself with the Sign of the Cross, he breathed forth his soul to his God, on the eighteenth of the Calends of October (14 September).

A fearful hail-storm happened at Constantinople after the Saint’s death and, four days after, the Empress died. Theodosius, the Son of Arcadius, had the Saint’s body brought to Constantinople, with all due honour, where, amidst a large concourse of people, it was buried on the sixth of the Calends of February (27 January). Theodosius, whilst devoutly venerating the Saint’s Relics, interceded for his parents that they might be forgiven. The body was, at a later period, translated to Rome and placed in the Vatican Basilica.

All men agree in admiring the unction and eloquence of his sermons, which are very numerous, as indeed of all his other writings. He is also admirable in his interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures which he explains in their genuine sense. It has always been thought that he was aided, in his writings and sermons, by St Paul the Apostle, to whom he entertained an extraordinary devotion.

St Paul guiding St John Chrysostom
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Saint of the Day – 27 November – St Leonard of Port Maurice OFM (1676-1751)

Saint of the Day – 27 November – St Leonard of Port Maurice OFM (1676-1751) – Born on 20 December 1676 at Porto Maurizio, Italy on the Riviera di Ponente as Paul Jerome Casanova and died at 11:00 pm on 26 November 1751 at the Monastery of Saint Bonaventura, Rome, Italy.    Franciscan Friar, Priest, Preacher – in particular Parish Mission Preacher, ascetic Writer, Spiritual Director.   His Memorial is celebrated in the universal calendar, today, 26 November.  St Leonard founded many pious societies and confraternities and exerted himself to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Perpetual Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Passion of Christ.   He was among the few to insist that the concept of the Immaculate Conception of Mary be defined as a Dogma of the Faith.   Patronages – Missionaries, Preachers, Imperia, Italy. header-San Leonardo de Puerto-Maurizio-26

Leonard was born in 1676 in Port Maurice, on the cost of northern Italy.   His father was a ship captain.   Because he was a gifted student, he was sent to Rome when he was 13 to live with his uncle while attending the Jesuits’ Roman College.   His family wanted him to become a doctor but after completing his studies, Leonard decided to become a Franciscan friar.   He hoped he could become a missionary to China.st leonard glass

After ordination, Leonard became seriously ill with a bleeding ulcer and was sent home.  No one knew if he would recover.   Leonard promised God that if he did get well, he would devote his life to the missions and to helping sinners change their lives.   It took more than four years but Leonard regained his health and began 40 years of mission work.   Surprisingly, he did not become a missionary in foreign lands.   He became a missionary to the people of his own country.S_Leonardo

Leonard travelled throughout Italy, preaching at parish missions and retreats.   He would often spend two or three weeks in a parish before moving on.   That gave him time to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with all who wanted to confess their sins and receive God’s forgiveness.   Leonard thought this was the most important part of his ministry.   It was a sign that through his preaching, the Holy Spirit had inspired people to transform their lives and begin to live as followers to Jesus.    St Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), called Leonard “the great missionary of the 18th century.”san-leonardo-di-artallo-208157.2.2

Everywhere the saint made conversions and was very often obliged both in cities and country districts to preach in the open, as the churches could not contain the thousands who came to listen.   Pope Clement XII and Pope Benedict XIV called him to Rome;  the latter especially held him in high esteem both as a preacher and as a propagandist and exacted a promise that he would come to Rome to die.   Pope Benedict XIV appointed him to several complex diplomatic assignments.   In Genoa and Corsica, in Lucca and Spoleto the citizens expected a jewelled cardinal to represent the intentions of the pope.   Instead, they were confronted by a humble, shoeless, muddy friar to confound their hostility and pride.st leonard preaching in corsica

Leonard had a great devotion to the Stations of the Cross.   He believed that praying the Stations would help people better understand that through His Passion and Death, Jesus showed His great love for us.   By this Franciscan saint’s work, almost 600 sets of the Stations of the Cross were erected throughout Italy, most of them in the parishes where he had preached and even one at the Colosseum in Rome, which to this day are used by the Holy Father during Lent and especially on Good Friday.   They were a lasting reminder to the people, of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and they encouraged people to stay close to Jesus through prayer.12_11_26_leonard_port_maurice

St Leonard died in Rome in 1751 at the age of 75.   He was Canonised in 1867 and in 1923 he was named the patron saint of parish mission preachers.   His ministry reminds us that Jesus is always calling us to grow in our love for Him and our brothers and sisters. When we think about Jesus’ Death on the Cross, we can remember all people who suffer in their daily journeys.   We can reach out to and pray for the hungry, the homeless, the unborn, the elderly and the neglected people of our world.leonard

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Saint of the Day – 13 September – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – “Golden Mouthed”

Saint of the Day – 13 September – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – “Golden Mouthed” – (c 347 at Antioch, Asia Minor – 407 of natural causes) Bishop, Father and Doctor, Preacher, Orator, Writer, Theologian, Confessor.

Listening to Pope Benedict XVI’s Homily,
General Audience, 19 September 2007

st john chryosotom info

“This year (2007) is the 16th centenary of St John Chrysostom’s death (407-2007).  It can be said that John of Antioch, nicknamed “Chrysostom”, that is, “golden-mouthed“, because of his eloquence, is also still alive today because of his works.   An anonymous copyist left in writing that “they cross the whole globe like flashes of lightening”.beautiful - SaintJohnChrysostom-790x480

Chrysostom’s writings also enable us, as they did the faithful of his time whom his frequent exiles deprived of his presence, to live with his books, despite his absence.   This is what he himself suggested in a letter when he was in exile (To Olympias, Letter 8, 45).

He was born in about the year 349 in Antioch, Syria (today Antakya in Southern Turkey). He carried out his priestly ministry there for about 11 years, until 397, when, appointed Bishop of Constantinople, he exercised his episcopal ministry in the capital of the Empire prior to his two exiles, which succeeded one close upon the other – in 403 and 407.   Let us limit ourselves today to examining the years Chrysostom spent in Antioch.   He lost his father at a tender age and lived with Anthusa, his mother, who instilled in him exquisite human sensitivity and a deep Christian faith.   After completing his elementary and advanced studies crowned by courses in philosophy and rhetoric, he had as his teacher, Libanius, a pagan and the most famous rhetorician of that time.   At his school John became the greatest orator of late Greek antiquity.st john chrysostom - engraving

He was baptised in 368 and trained for the ecclesiastical life by Bishop Meletius, who instituted him as lector in 371.   This event marked Chrysostom’s official entry into the ecclesiastical cursus.   From 367 to 372, he attended the Asceterius, a sort of seminary in Antioch, together with a group of young men, some of whom later became Bishops, under the guidance of the exegete Diodore of Tarsus, who initiated John into the literal and grammatical exegesis characteristic of Antiochean tradition.

He then withdrew for four years to the hermits on the neighbouring Mount Silpius.   He extended his retreat for a further two years, living alone in a cave under the guidance of an “old hermit”.   In that period, he dedicated himself unreservedly to meditating on “the laws of Christ”, the Gospels and especially the Letters of Paul.   Having fallen ill, he found it impossible to care for himself unaided and therefore had to return to the Christian community in Antioch (cf. Palladius, Dialogue on the Life of St John Chrysostom, 5).

The Lord, his biographer explains, intervened with the illness at the right moment to enable John to follow his true vocation.   In fact, he himself was later to write that were he to choose between the troubles of Church government and the tranquillity of monastic life, he would have preferred pastoral service a thousand times (cf. On the Priesthood, 6, 7):  it was precisely to this that Chrysostom felt called.   It was here that he reached the crucial turning point in the story of his vocation:  a full-time pastor of souls! Intimacy with the Word of God, cultivated in his years at the hermitage, had developed in him an irresistible urge to preach the Gospel, to give to others what he himself had received in his years of meditation.   The missionary ideal thus launched him into pastoral care, his heart on fire.

ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM

Between 378 and 379, he returned to the city.   He was ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386 and became a famous preacher in his city’s churches.   He preached homilies against the Arians, followed by homilies commemorating the Antiochean martyrs and other important liturgical celebrations: this was an important teaching of faith in Christ and also in the light of his Saints.   The year 387 was John’s “heroic year”, that of the so-called “revolt of the statues”.   As a sign of protest against levied taxes, the people destroyed the Emperor’s statues.   It was in those days of Lent and the fear of the Emperor’s impending reprisal that Chrysostom gave his 22 vibrant Homilies on the Statues, whose aim was to induce repentance and conversion.   This was followed by a period of serene pastoral care (387-397).my snip - st john chrysostom 4

Chrysostom is among the most prolific of the Fathers – 17 treatises, more than 700 authentic homilies, commentaries on Matthew and on Paul (Letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews) and 241 letters are extant.   He was not a speculative theologian.   Nevertheless, he passed on the Church’s tradition and reliable doctrine in an age of theological controversies, sparked above all by Arianism or, in other words, the denial of Christ’s divinity.   He is, therefore, a trustworthy witness of the dogmatic development achieved by the Church, from the fourth to the fifth centuries.

His is a perfectly pastoral theology in which there is constant concern for consistency between thought expressed via words and existential experience.   It is this in particular that forms the main theme of the splendid catecheses with which he prepared catechumens to receive Baptism.

On approaching death, he wrote that the value of the human being lies in “exact knowledge of true doctrine and in rectitude of life” (Letter from Exile).   Both these things, knowledge of truth and rectitude of life, go hand in hand – knowledge has to be expressed in life.   All his discourses aimed to develop in the faithful the use of intelligence, of true reason, in order to understand and to put into practice the moral and spiritual requirements of faith.st-John-chrysostom-02-featured-w740x493

John Chrysostom was anxious to accompany his writings with the person’s integral development in his physical, intellectual and religious dimensions.   The various phases of his growth are compared to as many seas in an immense ocean:  “The first of these seas is childhood” (Homily, 81, 5 on Matthew’s Gospel).   Indeed, “it is precisely at this early age that inclinations to vice or virtue are manifest”.   Thus, God’s law must be impressed upon the soul from the outset “as on a wax tablet” (Homily 3, 1 on John’s Gospel).   This is indeed the most important age.   We must bear in mind how fundamentally important it is that the great orientations which give man a proper outlook on life truly enter him in this first phase of life.   Chrysostom therefore recommended – “From the tenderest age, arm children with spiritual weapons and teach them to make the Sign of the Cross on their forehead with their hand” (Homily, 12, 7 on First Corinthians).   Then come adolescence and yout –  “Following childhood is the sea of adolescence, where violent winds blow…, for concupiscence… grows within us” (Homily 81, 5 on Matthew’s Gospel).   Lastly comes engagement and marriage – “Youth is succeeded by the age of the mature person who assumes family commitments – this is the time to seek a wife” (ibid.).

He recalls the aims of marriage, enriching them – referring to virtue and temperance – with a rich fabric of personal relationships.  Properly prepared spouses therefore bar the way to divorce, everything takes place with joy and children can be educated in virtue. Then when the first child is born, he is “like a bridge, the three become one flesh, because the child joins the two parts” (Homily 12, 5 on the Letter to the Colossians) and the three constitute “a family, a Church in miniature” (Homily 20, 6 on the Letter to the Ephesians).

snip st john chrysostom

Chrysostom’s preaching usually took place during the liturgy, the “place” where the community is built with the Word and the Eucharist.   The assembly gathered here expresses the one Church (Homily 8, 7 on the Letter to the Romans), the same word is addressed everywhere to all (Homily 24, 2 on First Corinthians), and Eucharistic Communion becomes an effective sign of unity (Homily 32, 7 on Matthew’s Gospel).

His pastoral project was incorporated into the Church’s life, in which the lay faithful assume the priestly, royal and prophetic office with Baptism.   To the lay faithful he said: “Baptism will also make you king, priest and prophet” (Homily 3, 5 on Second Corinthians).

From this stems the fundamental duty of the mission, because each one is to some extent responsible for the salvation of others:  “This is the principle of our social life… not to be solely concerned with ourselves!” (Homily 9, 2 on Genesis).   This all takes place between two poles – the great Church and the “Church in miniature”, the family, in a reciprocal relationship.

As you can see, dear brothers and sisters, Chrysostom’s lesson on the authentically Christian presence of the lay faithful in the family and in society is still more timely than ever today.   Let us pray to the Lord to make us docile to the teachings of this great Master of the faith.”

“I would like to end this writing with a final word of the great Doctor, in which he invites his faithful – and also us, of course – to reflect on the eternal values:

“For how long will we be nailed to the present reality?   How much longer will it be before we can meet with success?   How much longer will we neglect our salvation? ” 

Let us remember what Christ considered we deserved, let us thank Him, glorify Him, not only with our faith but also with our effective actions, in order to obtain future goods through the grace and loving tenderness of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for whom and with whom glory be to the Father and to the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever.  Amen”

(Pope Benedict XVI, 10 August 2007)

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Saint of the Day – 13 September – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church “Golden Mouthed”

Saint of the Day – 13 September – St John Chrysostom (347-407) Father and Doctor of the Church – “Golden Mouthed” – (c 347 at Antioch, Asia Minor – 407 of natural causes) Bishop, Confessor, Father and Doctor, Preacher, Orator, Writer, Theologian,  Name Meaning – • God is gracious; gift of God (John), • golden-mouthed (Chrysostom). Patronages – • epileptics; against epilepsy• Constantinople; Istanbul, Turkey• lecturers, preachers, speakers, orators (proclaimed on 8 July 1908 by St Pope Pius X). St John Chrysostom was the Archbishop of Constantinople and is an important Early Church Father. He is known for his preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom and his ascetic sensibilities.  Chrysostom was among the most prolific authors in the early Christian Church, exceeded only by St Augustine in the quantity of his surviving writings.

st john chrysostom 2

John was born in Antioch in 349 to Greek parents from Syria.   John’s father died soon after his birth and he was raised by his mother.   He was baptised in 368 or 373 and tonsured as a reader.   As a result of his mother’s influential connections in the city, John began his education under the pagan teacher Libanius.   From Libanius, John acquired the skills for a career in rhetoric, as well as a love of the Greek language and literature.  As he grew older, however, John became more deeply committed to Christianity and went on to study theology under Diodore of Tarsus, founder of the re-constituted School of Antioch.

John lived in extreme asceticism and became a hermit in about 375;  he spent the next two years continually standing, scarcely sleeping and committing the Bible to memory. As a consequence of these practices, his stomach and kidneys were permanently damaged and poor health forced him to return to Antioch.

Diaconate and service in Antioch:
John was ordained as a deacon in 381 by Saint Meletius of Antioch who was not then in communion with Alexandria and Rome.   After the death of Meletius, John separated himself from the followers of Meletius, without joining Paulinus, the rival of Meletius for the bishopric of Antioch. But after the death of Paulinus he was ordained a presbyter (priest) in 386 by Evagrius, the successor of Paulinus.

In Antioch, over the course of twelve years (386–397), John gained popularity because of the eloquence of his public speaking at the Golden Church, Antioch’s cathedral, especially his insightful expositions of Bible passages and moral teaching.  The most valuable of his works from this period are his Homilies on various books of the Bible.   He emphasised charitable giving and was concerned with the spiritual and temporal needs of the poor.   He spoke against abuse of wealth and personal property:

“Do you wish to honour the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk, only then to neglect him outside where he is cold and ill-clad. He who said: “This is my body” is the same who said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food”, and “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me”… What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when your brother is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying his hunger and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.”

His straightforward understanding of the Scriptures – in contrast to the Alexandrian tendency towards allegorical interpretation – meant that the themes of his talks were practical, explaining the Bible’s application to everyday life.   Such straightforward preaching helped Chrysostom to garner popular support.   He founded a series of hospitals in Constantinople to care for the poor.

Archbishop of Constantinople:
In the autumn of 397, John was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople, after having been nominated without his knowledge.   He had to leave Antioch in secret due to fears that the departure of such a popular figure would cause civil unrest.   During his time as Archbishop he adamantly refused to host lavish social gatherings, which made him popular with the common people but unpopular with wealthy citizens and the clergy.   His reforms of the clergy were also unpopular.   He told visiting regional preachers to return to the churches they were meant to be serving—without any payout.

His time in Constantinople was more tumultuous than his time in Antioch.   Theophilus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, wanted to bring Constantinople under his sway and opposed John’s appointment to Constantinople.   Theophilus had disciplined four Egyptian monks (known as “the Tall Brothers”) over their support of Origen’s teachings.   They fled to John and were welcomed by him.   Theophilus therefore accused John of being too partial to the teaching of Origen.   He made another enemy in Aelia Eudoxia, wife of Emperor Arcadius, who assumed that John’s denunciations of extravagance in feminine dress were aimed at herself.   Eudoxia, Theophilus and other of his enemies held a synod in 403 (the Synod of the Oak) to charge John, in which his connection to Origen was used against him.   It resulted in his deposition and banishment.   He was called back by Arcadius almost immediately, as the people became “tumultuous” over his departure, even threatening to burn the royal palace.   There was an earthquake the night of his arrest, which Eudoxia took for a sign of God’s anger, prompting her to ask Arcadius for John’s reinstatement.

Peace was short-lived. A silver statue of Eudoxia was erected in the Augustaion, near his cathedral.   John denounced the dedication ceremonies as pagan and spoke against the Empress in harsh terms:  “Again Herodias raves; again she is troubled; she dances again; and again desires to receive John’s head in a charger”, an allusion to the events surrounding the death of John the Baptist.   Once again he was banished, this time to the Caucasus in Abkhazia.

Exile and death:
Faced with exile, John Chrysostom wrote an appeal for help to three churchmen:  Pope Innocent I, Venerius the Bishop of Milan and the third to Chromatius, the Bishop of Aquileia.   In 1872, church historian William Stephens wrote:

“The Patriarch of the Eastern Rome appeals to the great bishops of the West, as the champions of an ecclesiastical discipline which he confesses himself unable to enforce, or to see any prospect of establishing.   No jealousy is entertained of the Patriarch of the Old Rome by the Patriarch of the New Rome.  The interference of Innocent is courted, a certain primacy is accorded him but at the same time he is not addressed as a supreme arbitrator;  assistance and sympathy are solicited from him as from an elder brother, and two other prelates of Italy are joint recipients with him of the appeal.”

Pope Innocent I protested John’s banishment from Constantinople to the town of Cucusus in Cappadocia, but to no avail.  Innocent sent a delegation to intercede on behalf of John in 405.   It was led by Gaudentius of Brescia; Gaudentius and his companions, two bishops, encountered many difficulties and never reached their goal of entering Constantinople.

John wrote letters which still held great influence in Constantinople.   As a result of this, he was further exiled from Cucusus (where he stayed from 404 to 407) to Pitiunt (Pityus) (in modern Abkhazia) where his tomb is a shrine for pilgrims.   He never reached this destination, as he died at Comana Pontica on 14 September 407 during the journey.   His last words are said to have been “Glory be to God for all things”.

Veneration and canonisation:
John came to be venerated as a saint soon after his death.  Almost immediately after, an anonymous supporter of John (known as pseudo-Martyrius) wrote a funeral oration to reclaim John as a symbol of Christian orthodoxy.   But three decades later, some of his adherents in Constantinople remained in schism.   Saint Proclus, Patriarch of Constantinople (434–446), hoping to bring about the reconciliation of the Johannites, preached a homily praising his predecessor in the Church of Hagia Sophia.   He said, “O John, your life was filled with sorrow but your death was glorious.   Your grave is blessed and reward is great, by the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ O graced one, having conquered the bounds of time and place!   Love has conquered space, unforgetting memory has annihilated the limits and place does not hinder the miracles of the saint.”