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On St. John Chrysostom's Antioch Years
Zenit News Agency ^ | September 19, 2007 | Benedict XVI

Posted on 09/19/2007 6:36:49 PM PDT by ELS

On St. John Chrysostom's Antioch Years

"His Is an Exquisitely Pastoral Theology"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square. The reflection focused on St. John Chrysostom.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

This year marks the 16th centenary of the death of St. John Chrysostom (407-2007). John of Antioch was called Chrysostom, "golden-mouthed,” for his eloquence. It could be said he is still alive today through his written works. An anonymous copyist wrote that his works "go across the globe like lighting." His writings enable us -- as they did for the faithful of his time, who were repeatedly deprived of him because of his exiles -- to live with his books, despite his absence. This was the advice he himself gave in one of his letters written from exile (cf. "To Olympia, Letter” 8:45).

Born around the year 349 in Antioch in Syria (modern-day Antakya, in south Turkey), he carried out his priestly ministry for about 11 years. In 397, he was appointed bishop of Constantinople. He exercised the episcopal ministry in the capital of the empire, before his two exiles which happened within a few years of each other, between 403 and 407. Today we limit ourselves to considering Chrysostom's years in Antioch.

Orphaned by his father at a young age, he lived with his mother, Anthusa, who instilled in him an exquisite human sensitivity and a profound Christian faith. He completed his elementary and higher studies, crowned by courses in philosophy and rhetoric. Libanius, a pagan, was his teacher. At his school, John became the greatest orator of late Ancient Greece. Baptized in 368 and formed in the ecclesiastical life by Bishop Meletius, he was ordained as a lector by him in 371. This marked Chrysostom's official entrance into the ecclesiastical "cursus." He attended, from 367-372, the "Asceterium," a kind of seminary in Antioch, together with a group of young men, some of whom later became bishops, under the guidance of the famous exegete Diodorus of Tarsus, who taught John historical-literal exegesis, characteristic of the Antiochian tradition.

He retreated for four years among the hermitages on nearby Mount Silpius. And then he continued his retreat for another two years, living alone in a grotto under the guidance of an "elder." During that time he dedicated himself entirely to meditating on "the laws of Christ," the Gospels and especially Paul's letters. Falling ill, he found it impossible to take care of himself, and therefore he returned to the Christian community of Antioch (cf. Palladium, "Life” 5).

The Lord -- a biographer explains -- intervened at the right time to enable John to follow his true vocation. In effect, he himself would write that if he had to choose between the crosses of governing the Church or the tranquility of the monastic life, he would have preferred pastoral service a thousand times over (cf. "On the Priesthood," 6:7): Chrysostom felt called to this.

And here we see the decisive turning point of his vocation story: full-time pastor of souls! Intimacy with the Word of God, cultivated during the years in the hermitage, matured in him the irresistible urgency to preach the Gospel, to give to others what he received during years of meditation. The ideal missionary was thus launched, a soul afire, into pastoral care.

Between 378 and 379 he returned to the city. Ordained a deacon in 381 and a priest in 386, he became a celebrated preacher in the churches of his city. He gave homilies against the Arians, followed by those commemorating the martyrs of Antioch and others on principal liturgical feasts: constituting a great teaching of faith in Christ, in light of his saints.

The year 387 was John's "heroic year," the so-called statue revolt. The people knocked down the imperial statues, as a sign of protest against tax increases. During those days of Lent and anguish because of the emperor's punishments, he gave his 22 vibrant "Homilies on Statues," directed toward penance and conversion. What followed was a period of serene pastoral care (387-397).

Chrysostom is counted among the most prolific Fathers, having written 17 treatises, 700 authentic homilies, commentaries on Matthew and Paul (Letters to the Romans, to the Corinthians, to the Ephesians and to the Hebrews), and 241 letters. He was not a speculative theologian. However he transmitted the traditional and certain doctrine of the Church in an age of theological controversies caused above all by Arianism, that is, by the negation of Christ's divinity. He is therefore a trustworthy witness of the dogmatic development of the Church in the fourth-fifth century.

His is an exquisitely pastoral theology, in which there is constant concern for the coherence between the thought expressed by the word and lived existence. It is this, in particular, the common thread of the splendid catecheses, with which he prepared the catechumens to receive baptism. Just before he died, he wrote that man's value is found in the "exact knowledge of true doctrine and in rectitude of life” ("Letter From Exile”). The two things, knowledge of the truth and rectitude of life, go together: Knowledge must become life. Every one of his discourses aimed at developing in the faithful the exercise of intelligence, of true reason, in order to understand and put into practice moral needs and precepts of the faith.

John Chrysostom tried to assist, through his writings, the integral development of the person, in the physical, intellectual and religious dimension. The various phases of growth are comparable to as many seas in an immense ocean.

"The first of these seas is infancy” (Homily 81:5 "On the Gospel of Matthew”). Therefore "in this first stage inclinations to vice and virtue begin to show." That is why God's law must be impressed on the soul from the beginning "as on a table of wax” (Homily 3:1 "On the Gospel of John”). In fact this is the most important age. We must be aware how important it is that in this first phase of life the major orientations that give the right perspective to existence truly enter into man. Chrysostom therefore recommends: "From a very young age, arm children with spiritual weapons, and teach them to make the sign of the cross on their foreheads” (Homily 12:7 "On the First Letter to the Corinthians”).

Then follows adolescence and boyhood: "The sea of adolescence follows that of childhood, where violent winds blow … because concupiscence grows within us” (Homily 81:5 "On the Gospel of Matthew”).

Lastly there is engagement and marriage: "After boyhood comes the age of maturity, in which the duties of family life abound: It is the time to look for a wife” (ibid). He recalls the goals of marriage, enriching them -- with an appeal to the virtue of temperance -- with a rich tapestry of personalized relationships. Spouses who are well prepared block, in this way, the road to divorce: Everything is carried out joyfully and one can educate their children to virtue. When the first child is born, this is "like a bridge; the three become one flesh, so that the child links the two parts (Homily 12:5 "On the Letter to the Colossians”), and the three make up "one family, a little Church” (Homily 20:6 "On the Letter to the Ephesians”).

Chrysostom's preaching took place regularly during the liturgy, the "place” in which the community is built up by the word and the Eucharist. Here the assembly, gathered together, expresses the only Church (Homily 8:7 "On the Letter to the Romans”), the same word is addressed to everyone in every place (Homily 24:2 "On the First Letter to the Corinthians”), and the Eucharistic Communion becomes an efficacious sign of unity (Homily 32:7 "On the Gospel of St. Matthew”).

His pastoral project was inserted into the life of the Church, in which the lay faithful, through baptism, assume the priestly, kingly and prophetic office. To the lay faithful he said: "Baptism also makes you king, priest and prophet” (Homily 3:5 "On the Second Letter to the Corinthians”). From this comes the Church's fundamental task of mission, because each one in some way is responsible for the salvation of others: "This is the principle of our social life … to think not just of ourselves!” (Homily 9:2 "On Genesis”). Everything takes place between these two poles: the big Church and the "little Church," the family, in a reciprocal relationship.

As you can see, dear brothers and sisters, this lesson of Chrysostom on the authentically Christian presence of the lay faithful in the family and in society, is important today more than ever. Let us pray that the Lord render us docile to the lessons of this great teacher of the faith.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today focuses on a great orator of the early Church, Saint John Chrysostom: the "golden-mouthed". After his schooling in Antioch, Saint John went into the desert to meditate on the "law of Christ". Illness forced him to return to the city, where he heard the Lord calling him to full-time pastoral service. Years of prayer had prepared him to preach the Word of God with tremendous power and persuasion. Chrysostom constantly strove to connect Christian doctrine to daily living, emphasizing life-long human development in a person's physical, intellectual and religious dimensions. Fundamental to this is the first phase when parents must firmly impress God's law upon their children's souls. Young people will thus be strengthened to confront the "storms" of adolescence when they must learn to temper concupiscence and eventually to assume the duties of marriage. Indeed, Saint John taught that the family is a "little Church" within the wider ecclesial community. Consequently, each of us has a responsibility for the salvation of those around us. Through the intercession of this saintly Bishop, may we generously embrace this and all our responsibilities in the Church and in society.

I extend a cordial welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's audience, including groups from Viet Nam, India and Nigeria. I also greet the Catholic and Greek Orthodox pilgrims from the United States. May God bless all of you!

© Copyright 2007 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

© Innovative Media, Inc.


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; History; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: generalaudience; popebenedictxvi; stjohnchrysostom; stpeterssquare

In this photo provided the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, gondolier Vittorio Orio, wearing red scarf, is greeted by Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's weekly general audience in St.Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2007. After a 17-day journey, gondolier Vittorio Orio parked his gondola in St. Peter's Square, and with traditional straw hat in hand walked up the steps of St. Peter's Basilica on Wednesday to meet with Pope Benedict XVI and invite him to Venice for a ride down the Grand Canal. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, ho)

A group of Nigerian pilgrims reacts during Pope Benedict XVI's weekly general audience in St.Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2007. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

Pope Benedict XVI waves to the faithful during a general audience at Saint Peter's square in the Vatican September 19, 2007. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN)
1 posted on 09/19/2007 6:36:54 PM PDT by ELS
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To: All
Recent catecheses on the Early Church Fathers:
On St. Clement of Rome -The Church Has a Sacramental, Not Political Structure (March 7, 2007)
Truly a Doctor of Unity (St. Ignatius of Antioch) (March 14, 2007)
St. Justin Martyr: He Considered Christianity the "True Philosophy" (March 21, 2007)
St. Irenaeus of Lyons: The First Great Theologian of the Church (March 28, 2007)
St. Clement of Alexandria: One of the Great Promoters of Dialogue Between Faith and Reason (April 18, 2007)
On Origen of Alexandria: He Was a True Teacher (April 25, 2007)
Origen: The Privileged Path to Knowing God Is Love (May 2, 2007)
Tertullian: Accomplished a Great Step in the Development of the Trinitarian Dogma (May 30, 2007)
St. Cyprian: His Book on the 'Our Father' Has Helped Me to Pray Better (June 6, 2007)
On Eusebius of Caesarea (June 13, 2007)
On St. Athanasius (June 20, 2007)
On St. Cyril of Jerusalem (June 27, 2007)
On St. Basil (July 4, 2007)
St. Basil (August 1, 2007)
St. Gregory of Nazianzen (August 8, 2007)
St. Gregory Nazianzen's Teachings (August 22, 2007)
St. Gregory of Nyssa - A Pillar of Orthodoxy (August 29, 2007)
Gregory of Nyssa on Perfection (September 5, 2007)
2 posted on 09/19/2007 6:37:44 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: clockwise; bornacatholic; Miss Marple; bboop; PandaRosaMishima; Carolina; MillerCreek; ...
Weekly audience ping!

Please let me know if you want to be on or off this list.

3 posted on 09/19/2007 6:40:00 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: ELS

I also greet the Catholic and Greek Orthodox pilgrims from the United States. May God bless all of you!


As a Greek Orthodox Christian myself I wish I could have been there...May God Bless you too your excellency!


4 posted on 09/19/2007 6:41:47 PM PDT by eleni121 (+ En Touto Nika! By this sign conquer! + Constantine the Great)
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To: eleni121
From this thread:
Among the 15,000 faithful gathered in the square were Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios of Boston. The two leaders were heading a 100-member Catholic-Orthodox ecumenical pilgrimage from the United States to Rome, then Istanbul, Turkey, and ending in St. Petersburg, Russia.

5 posted on 09/19/2007 6:46:34 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: All
Church Fathers (Scroll down about half-way to John Chrysostom and there are links to many of his writings.)
6 posted on 09/19/2007 6:53:37 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: ELS

Been to Istanbul 3 times...will not visit again except when Turkey is liberated.

But another trip to Russia is in the works...


7 posted on 09/19/2007 6:54:11 PM PDT by eleni121 (+ En Touto Nika! By this sign conquer! + Constantine the Great)
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To: ELS

Did he teach anti-semitism during these years or did that come later?


8 posted on 09/19/2007 7:42:39 PM PDT by Invincibly Ignorant
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To: ELS
Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York has large statues of the early fathers and doctors of the Church in the transepts. Here's St. John Chrysostom:

Go

9 posted on 09/19/2007 8:10:02 PM PDT by Oratam
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To: ELS
We just recieved an e-mail from my son who is in Rome studying this semester. He attended the papal audience today and was in the front row. He said His Holiness passed within four feet of him while giving his blessing and that the Pope said the blessing extended to his family back home.

So we're all trying to be a little holier in our family right now. -)

10 posted on 09/19/2007 8:16:16 PM PDT by AlguyA
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To: ELS

A early Father that I always liked because he filled me with questions:

Are there any examples of “why” he was named golden tongued?

And what drove his utter rejection of Hebrews as apart from God through Christ? Was that a function of study of the Scriptures and Epistles, or was it due to some sort of deeply held belief that Hebrews would lead Christians astray?


11 posted on 09/19/2007 8:21:54 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: ELS

Wonderful thread. Thank you!


12 posted on 09/19/2007 8:37:14 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: ELS

Pope Benedict XVI is a fantastic teacher!


13 posted on 09/19/2007 8:38:14 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: padre35
**Are there any examples of “why” he was named golden tongued?** Synaxis of The Three Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, & John Chrysostom, Jan.30

The Translation of the Relics of St. John Chrysostom (Jan 27 or Feb 9 Julian calendar)

The Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom (c. 400 AD)

The Easter Sermon of St. John Chrysostom (c. 400 AD)

The Life of Saint John Chrysostom

PASCHAL Homily of St John Chrysostom

The Golden Mouthed Preacher-St.John Chrysostom [Bishop,Doctor of Catholic and Orthodox Churches]

14 posted on 09/19/2007 8:41:33 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: padre35
There is a lot of information about St. John Chrysostom in this thread too.
15 posted on 09/19/2007 8:43:39 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: AlguyA

What a blessing for your son! I hope to attend a papal general audience someday.


16 posted on 09/19/2007 8:51:19 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: padre35; Kolokotronis; kosta50; vladimir998
Are there any examples of “why” he was named golden tongued?

And what drove his utter rejection of Hebrews as apart from God through Christ? Was that a function of study of the Scriptures and Epistles, or was it due to some sort of deeply held belief that Hebrews would lead Christians astray?

I can't suitably answer your questions. Perhaps one of our more knowledgeable FReepers will step up.

17 posted on 09/19/2007 8:58:21 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: padre35
Check out this site:

Doctors of the Catholic Church

Chrysostom was born the same year as St Jerome and was as talented with his tongue as Jerome was with his pen. His name means "golden mouth". He was a great................

18 posted on 09/19/2007 9:08:19 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

I only read the paschal homily, he spoke with both certitude and poetically, perhaps I get him now.


19 posted on 09/19/2007 10:19:11 PM PDT by padre35 (Conservative in Exile.)
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To: ELS; eleni121; Salvation; padre35

The wonderful pope referred here to +John Chrysostomos’ Homily XX on Ephesians. It has always been one of my favorites. Here is a quote I use at wedding toasts and in advice to young husbands concerning wives:

” And again, never call her simply by her name, but with terms of endearment, with honor, with much love. Honor her, and she will not need honor from others; she will not want the glory that comes from others, if she enjoys that which comes from thee. Prefer her before all, on every account, both for her beauty and her discernment, and praise her. Thou wilt thus persuade her to give heed to none that are without, but to scorn all the world except thyself. Teach her the fear of God, and all good things will flow from this as from a fountain, and the house will be full of ten thousand blessings.”


20 posted on 09/20/2007 4:12:47 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis
That is beautiful!

Homily XX on Ephesians

21 posted on 09/20/2007 5:56:52 AM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: ELS; Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; ...

For those who can't get enough of St. John Chrysostom ...


22 posted on 09/20/2007 9:57:05 AM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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