- ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
#61472;John Chrysostom succeeded Gregory of Nazianzus as the Patriarch of Constantinople. Both had brilliant personality. Nevertheless, both failed to please the envious and those in authority; hence, they had to give up their positions. The life history of John Chrysostom is the history of his unflinching fight against injustice.
John Chrysostom was born at Antioch, the capital of Syria in AD 344 or 347. His parents were Christians. His father, Secuntus was a high-ranking army officer, and his mother Anthusa was a very god-fearing woman. His earliest education came from his mother who was widowed at the age of twenty. John studied philosophy under Andragathius and rhetoric under Lebanius, a famous pagan sophist and rhetorician. When John was about eighteen years of age, he met Meletius, the Bishop of Antioch. He learned Christian faith from Miletius and received baptism in 369. Miletius directed him to the school of Diodore of Tarsus, who indicated in the literal exegesis of the School of Antioch. Here he met and formed a lifelong friendship with Theodore of Mopsuestia. After his education John lived an ascetical life, but his mother begged him not leave her alone. After his mother�s death in 370, he went to a mountain near Antioch and he spent four years there and two years in cave in ascetic practices and
study. During this latter period, he never lay down to sleep, night or day, his gastro-intestinal system refused anymore to function properly and the cold and dampness caused malfunctioning of his kidneys. Therefore, he was forced to leave the solitary life and returned to Antioch. In 381 AD he was ordained a deacon by Miletius, and in 386 AD a priest by Flavian, the successor of Miletius. Under Flavian John was assigned for twelve years as preacher in the main church of Antioch. It is to his preaching and because of his eloquence that he is called Chrysostom, which means golden mouthed. The Emperor of Constantinople also came to know about him.
When Nectarios, the Patriarch of Constantinople died in 397, many Bishops wished to succeed him. Because of this problem, Emperor Arcadius elected John Chrysostom as the Patriarch of Constantinople. Theophilus of Alexandria objected but he himself gave leadership to the consecration ceremony under the instruction of the Emperor. After his consecration, John Chrysostom began to reform the Church and aroused a great opposition. Empror Arcadius was a wick, norrow minded man, and he was completely under the control of his minister, the Eunech Eutropius. Eutropius was unprincipled, various and ambitious man. Chrysostom fearlessly opposed Eutropius. Eudoxia, the empress, was a woman of vanity and she became a bitter enemy of Chrysostom. Although Chrysostom usually peaceful and patient, his zeal of God, Church and justice often led him to blunt speech and action offensive to those in high places. In 401 AD at a synod in Ephesus, he deposed six bishops as guilty of simony, with the result
that all forces opposed to him, consolidated in a united effort to destroy him.
Theophilus� dislike of John turned to an active hatred when he had to come personally to Constantinople in 402 AD to answer charges brought against him by the desert monks of Nitria, before a synod presided over by Chrysostom. Theophilus had expelled some about fifty desert monks on ground of their Origenist view in theology. In the mean time, the enemies of John falsified the sermons of Chrysostom and spread the news that he had slandered the empress. John Chrysostom often preached on the vanity and luxury of woman, and Eudoxia was easily convinced that Chrysostom had aimed at her. Arcadius, influenced by Eudoxia and Eutropius urged Theophilus to hold a synod and depose John Chrysostem. Theophilus called a synod at Oak, near Chalcedon in 403 together with thirty-six bishops and depose John Chrysostom. Arcadius then expelled John Chrysostom to Bithynia. However, on the day of exile a terrible earthquake occurred which filled the palace with fear. Suddenly, John Chrysostom was called back. His return was a great event.
The uneasy peace lasted only two months. The empress erected a statue of herself near the Cathedral, and the noise of the celebrations interrupted the liturgical ceremonies in the Church. From his pulpit, John Chrysostom attacked it bitterly and he requested the city prefect to put an end to the disturbance. Eudoxia considered it as a public insult. The emperor ordered him to retire and he refused. The emperor then forbade him the use of any church. On the Easter Vigil of 404 AD John Chrysostom and his followers went to the place where some 3000 catechumens assembled to be baptized. The soldiers broke up the service and the baptismal water flow with blood. A few days after, to avoid more bloodshed, Chrysostom left secretely. On June 9, 404 AD, Chrysostom was ordered into exile to Cucusus in Lesser Armenia, where he remained three years. Arsacius first and then Atticus succeeded in Constantinople, but the people who were supporting John Chrysostom did not accept them. Eudoxia died a
few months after. From Cucusus John Chrysostom maintained contact with his flock and with Antioch. When his enemies saw that his followers still visited him, they compelled the emperor to send him to a remote place, Pityus, on the eastern shore of Black Sea in order to avoid his contact. Toward the end of June 407, the soldiers forced him to walk bare headed and bare foot in sun and rain to Pityus. Worn out with hardship and fever he died en rout at Comana in the Pontus, uttering the words Glory to God for all things, on September 14, 407 AD. Later his mortal remains were brought to Constantinople during the rule of Theodocius II under royal escort, and buried the church of the Apostles.
Literary contributions of John Chrysostom
No one else among the Greek Fathers has so large a body of extant writings as has John Chrysostom. It may be divided into four groups. They are Exegetical, Discourses, Moral and Ascetical treatises, and Letters.
i) Homilies on Genesis: There are extant two series of Chrysostom�s Homilies on Genesis. The first series consists of only nine homilies, which are preached at Antioch in Lent of 386 AD shortly after his ordination to the priesthood. The second series of Homilies on Genesis consists of sixty-seven homilies and comprises a complete commentary on that book.
ii) Homilies on the Gospel of John: It contains eighty-eight in number. Probably they belong to the year 391 AD.
iii) Homilies on the Gospel of Mathew: The ninety Homilies on the Gospel of Mathew were delivered at Antioch, probably in the year 390.
iv) Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans: It is probable, were preached soon after the series on the Gospel of John, about the year 391 AD. It is extant in thirty-two homilies, and is generally regarded as the finest surviving patristic commentary on that book.
v) Homilies on the first Epistle to the Corinthians: It contains forty-four homilies. It was composed at Antioch, probably about the year 392. In addition to the connected series of forty-four homilies on First Corinthians there is a set of three homilies on 1 Cor.7:1ff.
vi) Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians: It belongs to John�s year at Antioch, i.e., before about 393 AD.
vii) Homilies on the Epistle to the Philipians: It contains fifteen in number, and belongs to his Antiochian period or in Constantinople, 398-404 AD.
vii) Homilies on the second Epistle to Timothy: It contains ten homilies, and belongs to 392 AD.
viii) Explanations of the Psalms: It is a series of fifty-eight homilies, and is written about 396 AD.
ix) Homilies on the Epistle to the Hebrews: Chrysostom�s series of thirty-four homilies belongs to his last years in Constantinople.
x) Homilies on the second Epistle to the Thessalonians: Besides eleven homilies on first Thessalonians, Chrysostom wrote also a course of five homilies on second Thessalonians. Both series belong to his Episcopal years in Constantinople, between 398 and 404.
a) Homilies on the Incident of the Statues: They are twenty-one in number and are the most famous of Chrysostom�s works. They belong to the year 387 AD, when Chrysostom was official preacher in Antioch. These wonderful discourses consolidated his reputation as a golden-mouthed orator.
b) The Proof that Christ is God: Its Latin title is Against the Jews and Pagans that Christ is God. It occupies itself with proving Christ�s divinity based on the fulfillment of prophecy. It was written immediately after Chrysostom�s ordination to the deaconate, in 381 AD.
c) Homilies against the Anomians and on the Incomprehensible Nature of God: It contains twelve homilies.
3. Moral and Ascetical Treatises
They are numerous and all of them deal with monastic, ascetical and apologitical topics. The most not worthy are the treatise on The Priesthood and Baptismal Catechises.
There are 238 letters extend from the time of his exile. Seventeen among them are very important to know his doctrine.
Main teachings of John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom did not enter openly into theological conflict of his time. His teacher Diodore of Tarsus is said to be the father of the so-called Nestorianism but Chrysostom was not at all happy with the Christological teaching of Diodore. Without any taint of heresy, Chrysostom gives some of his thoughts through commentaries. He stressed that the essence of the Father and the Son is same, Christ says, �If anyone sees Me, he sees the Father (Jn.14:9)� If He were another essence (etera" ousia") He would not say this (Hom.Jn.74,1).
He says, the Word become flesh with out having any change or mixing in their natures, and there is no separation. When you hear that �the word was made flesh (Jn.1:14),� do not be disturbed nor disheartened� Why does he use the expression �was made?� To stop the mouths of the heretics. For since there are some who are saying that the whole of the Incarnation (ta; th'" oikonomia" apanta) was a phantasm and a show and an illusion he put down that was made to take away their blasphemy beforehand, intending to show thereby not a change of essence (ou metabolhn ousia~), perish the thought, but the assumption of true flesh� For by union (enwsei) and by conjunction (sunafeia) God the Word and the flesh are one, not in any confused way, nor by an obliteration of essences (oude afanismou twn ousiwn), but by a certain union that is indescribable and beyond understanding� There was no possibility of raising (our fallen nature) again, unless He that fashioned it in the beginning stretch forth
His hand to it and remold it anew, by rebirth through water and Spirit (Hom.Jn.11,1&2).
Chrysostom teaches that the Word has become flesh and the Master has assumed the form of a servant that men have been made sons of God. The humanity stood condemned to death by God, and was indeed virtually dead; but Christ has delivered us by handing Himself over to death. Christ has saved us by His unique sacrifice. He has done this by substituting himself in our place. Though he was righteousness itself, God allowed him to be condemned as a sinner and to die as one under a curse, transferring to Him not only the death that we owed but our guilt as well. Moreover, the sacrifice of such a victim was of surpassing efficacy, being sufficient to save the entire race. He died for all men, to save all, as far as He was concerned; for that death was a fair equivalent (antirropo") in exchange for the destruction of all.
John Chrysostom uses the term musthrion for the sacraments. For him musthrion is not meant by what we see and believe but we see something and we believe something else, also, it is incomprehensible to us. He also applied this word to both Incarnation and Crucifixion. He states the essence of Holy Eucharist is the uniting of the communicants with Christ, and so with one another, because the Bread is one, we, the many, are in one Body (1 Cor.10:7). Why do I say communion? He says, for we are that very body. What is the Bread? The Body of Christ! What we do they become who are partakers therein? The Body of Christ! Not many bodies, but one Body. For just as the bread, consisting of many grains, is made one, and the grains are no longer evident, but still exist, though their distinction is not apparent in their conjunction. So too are we conjoined to each other and to Christ. For you are not nourished by one Body while someone else is nourished by another Body, rather, all are nourished
by the same Body (Hom. 1 Cor. 24, 2). The union is complete, and eliminates all separation (Hom. 1 Thim.15, 4). Thus, we feed on Him at Whom angels gaze with trembling� and become one body and flesh with Christ. (Hom. Mat.82, 5)
In his homily on Acts of Apostles, Chrysostom explains that only through the power of Holy Spirit can the baptismal water produce its effect (1, 5). The seal of The Holy Spirit in baptism is a distinctive sign like the badge worn by the soldiers (Hom.2 Cor.3, 7). The Christian is sealing with The Holy spirit corresponds to the sealing of the Jew with the rite of circumcision (Hom. Eph .2, 2). Christian is having Christ in himself because of baptism and so being assimilated to Him. Stepping out of the sacred bath, the catechumen is clothed with light and, fully regenerated; enjoy possession of justice and holiness (Comm. Gal.3, 5).
In the Genesis passage, the very hand of God, created entirely incorruptible and immortal, shaped man, there they had no need even for the protective covering of garments. For when sin and disobedience had not yet entered upon the scene, they were clothed with glory from above, which is why they were not ashamed. Nevertheless, their transgression of the command shame did enter in, and the knowledge of their nakedness (15, 4). Adam knew the meaning of the divine command and the penalties attached to its violation, and he enjoyed perfect freedom (16, 5).
About priesthood, though the service of a priest takes place on earth it should be considered as taking place in heaven. This holy service was established not by man, angel or any other creation but by the Holy Spirit. He calls who are earthly for the service of the angels. Hence, we should be holy like the heavenly hosts to perform the holy rites. When you see before your very eyes the Saviour as a sacrifice, when you see the participants in the sacrifice wrapped in Divine glory caused by sacrificial blood, how can you think that you are on earth? This miracle is due to God�s grace for man. The one who is with the Father in Heaven is at the same time being embraced in our hands.
Priests have received a power that God has given neither to angels nor to archangels. It was said to them, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bond in heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose shall be loosed (Mt. 18:18). Temporal rulers have indeed the power of binding, but they can bind only the body. Priests, however, can bind with a bond, which pertains to the soul itself, and transcends the very heavens. Whatever priests do here on earth, God will confirm in heaven, just as the master ratifies the decisions of his servants (The Priesthood 3, 5, 182 & 183).
Have you sinned? Go into church and wipe out your sin. As often as you might fall down in the market place, you pick yourself up again. So too as often as you sin, repent your sin. Do not despair. Even if you sin a second time, repent a second time. Even if you are in extreme old age and have sinned, go in repent! For here is a physician�s office, not a courtroom. Not a place where punishment of sin is exacted, but where the forgiveness of sin is granted. (Homilies on Penance 3, 4).
- Dear All,
we were reading several messages on discussing the
catholicate and patriarchate and i am sure that those
arguments will never converge and touch to any
conclusions as they are kept parallel today. the
re-establishment of the catholicate of the 3rd century
was done in malankara in 1912 for which there were
objections within the church. however it was made
right in 1964. still the confusion prevails.
in one of my old postings i just mentioned about the
establishment of a bishopate in Parumala seminary
which is the spiritual power for all our church
leaders, parishes all over the world and an undisputed
pilgrimage for all irrespective of cast, creed and
St.Greegorios of Parumala himself went to Jeruselam
and accepted the title of Jerusalem Patriarch in
silence. However; never agreed to the request of HH
Moran Peter III the Patriarch of Antioch to shift the
saint's stay to Jerusalem. saint's staying back at
Parumala resulted in the 2nd Jerusalem for us.
it is a common sight in Parumala that a bishop is
alway is visiting the sacred shrine.
as suggested in my earlier postings can we position a
bishop in that vacant seminary and re -establish the
title 'Jerusalem Patriarch' under the St Thomas
this would fulfil the desire of the saint to activate
the seminary as the spiritual centre for the church.
this should be the only place where no Christian shall
be denied of any sacraments because of the trivial
Dr.GeorgeK John, Sharjah.