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The Gift of St. John Chrysostom’s Eloquent Teaching

The Church celebrates the Feast of St. John Chrysostom on September 13th. It was transferred to this date in order to celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on the 14th. St. John of Antioch was born in 349 A.D. and was nicknamed “Chrysostom” which means “golden-mouthed” because he had a profound gift of eloquence.  He was born and lived in Antioch, Syria which is modern day Antakaya, Turkey. He worked in priestly service there for about eleven years until when in 397 he was appointed Bishop of Constantinople. He served in the episcopacy before he was exiled in 403 and 407.

His work was prolific and he is considered the most influential of all the Greek Fathers. He preached and wrote extensively to include: seventeen treatises, more than seven hundred authentic homilies, commentaries on Matthew and on Paul (Letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, and Hebrews) and two hundred forty-one letters. He worked hard to present the Church’s tradition and doctrine correctly in an age marked by heresies and conflict. It was during this time that Arianism was wreaking havoc on the Church. He witnessed dogmatic developments within the fourth and fifth centuries and is a reliable witness to what transpired.

Chrysostom was deeply devoted to teaching catechumens as they prepared for Baptism, as well as deepening the faith of the laity. He was a firm believer in doctrine and truth. When he was nearing his death he stated that the value of human beings lies in “exact knowledge of true doctrine and in rectitude of life” (Letter from Exile). A person must have knowledge of the truth so that they may go live it in their daily lives. He intuitively understood the deep connection between knowledge and living the Christian life. He was able to connect the stages of human development with his theological works. He saw the development of the physical, religious, and intellectual aspects of the person as an integral whole.

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