Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.
Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.
When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out: “O Grave, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world.” The Grave is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.
O death, where is your sting? O Grave, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
I have come to admire the Golden Mouth, John Chrysostom, from a homiletic standpoint as well as an interpretative standpoint. He is sound in many of this thoughts, and although we may arrive at a different view of the Godhead, it would be difficult at best to find that difference in this homily.
BEHOLD a new and wondrous mystery. My ears resound to the Shepherd’s song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn. The Angels sing. The Archangels blend their voice in harmony. The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The Seraphim exalt His glory. All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He Who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.
Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side, the Sun of justice. And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed; He had the power; He descended; He redeemed; all things yielded in obedience to God. This day He Who is, is Born; and He Who is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became He God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassability, remaining unchanged.
And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Since this heavenly birth cannot be described, neither does His coming amongst us in these days permit of too curious scrutiny. Though I know that a Virgin this day gave birth, and I believe that God was begotten before all time, yet the manner of this generation I have learned to venerate in silence and I accept that this is not to be probed too curiously with wordy speech.
For with God we look not for the order of nature, but rest our faith in the power of Him who works.
What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend.
Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason? That coming amongst us he may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.
Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature.
For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.
What shall I say! And how shall I describe this Birth to you? For this wonder fills me with astonishment. The Ancient of Days has become an infant. He Who sits upon the sublime and heavenly Throne, now lies in a manger. And He Who cannot be touched, Who is simple, without complexity, and incorporeal, now lies subject to the hands of men. He Who has broken the bonds of sinners, is now bound by an infants bands. But He has decreed that ignominy shall become honor, infamy be clothed with glory, and total humiliation the measure of His Goodness.
For this He assumed my body, that I may become capable of His Word; taking my flesh, He gives me His spirit; and so He bestowing and I receiving, He prepares for me the treasure of Life. He takes my flesh, to sanctify me; He gives me His Spirit, that He may save me.
Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been ¡in planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.
Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He became Flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things arc nourished, may receive an infant’s food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; and the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.
To Him, then, Who out of confusion has wrought a clear path, to Christ, to the Father, and to the Holy Ghost, we offer all praise, now and for ever. Amen.
St. John Chrysostom, “Homily on Christmas Morning”
Yesterday, although it was a feast-day of Satan, you preferred to keep a spiritual feast, recieving our words with great good will, and spending most of the day here in church, drinking a drunkness of self-control, and dancing in the chorus of Paul. – On Wealth and Poverty, Sermon 1
The feast day that John mentions is Saturnalia. Many have painted the corruption of the Church with the brush of conspiracy, but here we see that it was not conspiracy, but a matter of people choosing to hold a worship servicce as opposed to partaking in the feast of Saturnalia.
If I could ever write a Liturgy as inspired as 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 Ηeaven!
It took what it saw, but crumbled before what can 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 have slept.
To Him be glory and might unto the ages of ages.
- Holy Saturday (interiorcatholic.wordpress.com)
- John Chrysostom on the blood and water. (lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com)
- What Christ Accomplished on the Cross (vatopaidi.wordpress.com)
- Homily for EASTER SUNDAY 2011 (junjunfaithbook.com)
- Reflections from the Saints: John Chrysostom on Comportment within a Church (trustinjesus.wordpress.com)
- On The Easter Triduum (catholicjules.net)
- Maundy Thursday and the Paschal Triduum. (lifeondoverbeach.wordpress.com)
As I was looking for information on evil spirits meant to wander the earth for all time as violent apparitions, I found this little quote from John Chrysostom.
It came to pass,” it is said, “that Lazarus died; and he was carried up by angels,” (Luke 17:22). Here, before I proceed, I desire to remove a wrong impression from your minds. For it is a fact that many of the less instructed think that the souls of those who die a violent death become wandering spirits (or demons).
But this is not so. I repeat it is not so. For not the souls of those who die a violent death become demons, but rather the souls of those who live in sin; not that their nature is changed, but that in their desires they imitate the evil nature of demons. Showing this very thing to the Jews, Christ said, “Ye are the children of the devil,” (John 7:44). He said that they were the children of the devil, not because they were changed into a nature like his, but because they performed actions like his. Wherefore also He adds: “For the lusts of your father ye will do.” Also John says: “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Do therefore works meet for repentance. And think not to say, We have Abraham for our father” (Matt. 3:7-9). The Scripture, therefore, is accustomed to base the laws of relationship, not on natural origin, but on good or evil disposition; and those to whom any one shows similarity of manners and actions, the Scripture declares him to be their son or their brother.
And as those who live in prison are always in sorrow and pain, and especially on that day when they are to be led forth, and brought to the place where they are to be tried, and placed at the bar, and hear the voice of the judge within; as they then are full of fear, and seem no better than dead men, so the soul, though it is much pained at the very moment of the sinful act, is much more afflicted when about to be hurried away.
Of course, what we may redact from this is that there was the myth at the time that evil spirits were those who had died violently, before their time. Like Dolesus.
- Chrysostom’s fiery preaching on the poor (for those who don’t know Jack about John) (gratefultothedead.wordpress.com)
From the Dailygospel.org – but, I note that John says nothing about what to do when your wife reads Jim’s blog more your own…
What should you be saying to your wife? Tell her with great gentleness: «…I have chosen you; I love you and prefer you to my own life. Life in the present is nothing and so I perform all my prayers, intentions and every action that we may be granted to spend this life in such a way as to be reunited in the life to come without further fear of separation. Our present life is short and tenuous. If it is granted us to be pleasing to God now we shall be with Christ and each other forever in unending happiness. It is your love that enraptures me more than anything else and I could not know a more unbearable misfortune than to be parted from you. Were I to lose everything and become poorer than a beggar, run the ultimate risks or undergo anything at all, it would all be bearable for me so long as your love for me holds firm. Only by counting on this love will I hope for children.»
You must also match your conduct to these words… Show your wife how much you value living with her and that, because of her, you prefer being at home to the public square. Prefer her to all your friends and even to the children she has borne you, and let these be loved by you for her sake…
Say your prayers together. Let each of you go to church and, back at home, let the husband ask an account from his wife and the wife from her husband concerning whatever was said or read… Learn the fear of God and all the rest will flow as from a spring and your house will be filled with countless blessings. Let us aspire to those good things that are incorruptible and the rest will not pass us by. «Seek first the Kingdom of God and all the rest will be added to you» (Mt 6,33).
From the DailyGospel.org:
Commentary of the day :
Saint John Chrysostom (c.345-407), priest at Antioch then Bishop of Constantinople, Doctor of the Church
Homilies on Saint Matthew’s Gospel, no.54
“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Peter is considering Christ’s suffering and death from a purely natural and human point of view, and this death seems to him to be unworthy of God, dishonorable for his glory. Christ reproves him as though to say: «But no! Suffering and death are not unworthy of me. Earthly opinions disturb and mislead your judgment. Throw off all human thoughts; listen to my words from the viewpoint of my Father’s designs and you will understand that this death is the only one fitting to my glory. Do you believe it to be a matter of shame for me to suffer? Then know that not to fulfill the plan of salvation in this way is the will of the devil for me»…
So let no one be ashamed of the signs of our salvation, which are worthy of veneration and worship; Christ’s cross is the source of all good. Through it we live, are regenerated and saved. Let us bear the cross, then, like a glorious crown. It sets its seal on everything that leads to salvation: when we are reborn by the waters of baptism, the cross is there; when we draw near to the holy table to receive the Body and Blood of our Savior, the cross is there; when we place our hands on the Lord’s chosen ones, it is there. Whatever we do, there it stands for us as a sign of victory. That is why we place it in our houses, on our walls, on our doors; we make its sign on our forehead and on our breast; we carry it in our heart. For it is the symbol of our redemption, our liberation, and the infinite mercy of our Lord.
I am not a fan of Christmas, but as I have said before, it is a time which many focus on Christ. On the sights that you see this time of year is the star of Bethlehem. I am not going to get into the science of the star, if indeed there be such a unique event in the skies during that time, but there was a star of some sort which brought the Magi of the East to look for the birth of the King:
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” ”
In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’ ”
Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! (Mat 2:1-10 NLT)
Augustine, in his second book against Fautus, says,
Christ was not born because the star was there; but the star was there because Christ was born. If there was any fate, it was in the birth, and not in the star. The word fate is derived from a word which means to speak; and since Christ is the Word of God by which all things were spoken before they were, the conjunction of stars is not the fate of Christ, but Christ is the fate of the stars. The same will that made the heavens took our earthly nature. The same power that ruled the stars laid down His life and took it again.
If it is so well thought, we may connect the star over the small town to the star prophesied by Balaam,
I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the foreheads of Moab’s people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth. (Num 24:17 NLT)
We should think, no matter the season – pretended or otherwise – what manner of star it was that called the men from the East. As well, we should think of our own call this season – we are called to come to God, a journey, no doubt that mimics the travels of the wise men. So many assume that nothing is left for us to do except to accept Christ, as He has done the work, yet, we should stand with the Magi, in that we see the star in the East. They traveled, even after Christ had come all this way, to adore Him, to praise Him, and to give of themselves to Him.
We echo John Chrysostom’s words here,
Let Marcion and Paul of Samosata then blush, who will not see what the Magi saw, those progenitors of the Church adoring God in the flesh. That He was truly in the flesh, the swaddling clothes and the stall prove; yet that they worshipped Him not as mere man, but as God, the gifts prove which it was becoming to offer to a God. Let the Jews also be ashamed, seeing the Magi coming before them, and themselves not even earnest to tread in their path.
Let us not be ashamed this season, or any other, to heed the call to worship our Lord and Saviour. Just as had those 2000 years ago, Christ has told us where He is found, if we are wise enough to search for Him.
Robert Krupp presents a brief bio on John Chrysostom, one of my favorites -
John Chrysostom had little patience with sins of any sort, but he was especially piqued at the misuse of wealth:
“It is foolishness and a public madness,” he once preached, “to fill the cupboards with clothing and allow men who are created in God’s image and our likeness to stand naked and trembling with the cold so that they can hardly hold themselves upright.… You are large and fat, you hold drinking parties until late at night, and sleep in a warm, soft bed. And do you not think of how you must give an account of your misuse of the gifts of God?”
This type of preaching—eloquent and uncompromising—would eventually earn John of Antioch the name by which he is now distinguished: Chrysostomos, “the golden mouth.” It would also contribute, though, to his exile and premature death.
I’ve made no bones over the years about my enjoyment of John Chrysostom, so imagine my surprise when this piece of history came up in readings and discussions over the past few weeks… I thought that perhaps this might interest some of you… It is the Divine Liturgy of John Chrysostom, commonly performed in it’s entirety in the Eastern Orthodox churches. It is commonly used in the Orthodox Churches, and while many of us may find it too ‘Catholic’ I would ask you to simply read it and gain from the ancient mind his love of God. Simply put, it is a work of art.
I might, given the time later, devote a few posts to highlighting a few of the more precious passages…
Set yourself in their world – filled with illiterate peoples and new converts. Pretend that you cannot read the Scriptures, or that you are new to the faith. Pretend that the most important thing in your life is the church service, and in that, the Communion… Then, strip away modernity and read and listen to what Chrysostom is saying in a service meant to bring people together who are so divided, either by class or faith, etc…
Also, if I may, you may wish to read it aloud…
Remember, this was written early in the 5th century… and while you may not agree with all the theological points made…there is enough here to enjoy…
There stands the priest, not bringing down fire from Heaven, but the Holy Spirit: and he makes prolonged supplication, not that some flame sent down from on high may consume the offerings, but that grace descending on the sacrifice may thereby enlighten the souls of all, and render them more refulgent than silver purified by fire. Who can despise this most awful mystery, unless he is stark mad and senseless? Or do you not know that no human soul could have endured that fire in the sacrifice, but all would have been utterly consumed, had not the assistance of God’s grace been great. (On the Priesthood, 3.4)
(Thanks to James for the Quote).