Orthodox America

St. John Chrysostom

347-407 A.D. Commemorated Sept.14, Jan.27, and Jan.30

St. John, called "Chrysostom" or "Golden Mouth", was born in Antioch, the city where the followers of Christ were first called Christians, in 347. After completing his education, he entered the practice of law and then, in his early twenties, became a catechumen. After three years of preparation he was baptized-an event that was the turning point of his life, leading to a complete renunciation of his former ways, even to the point of almost continual silence, so as to avoid the temptation to indulge in gossip or slander.

Becoming a monk, Chrysostom preached every Sunday, and sometimes two or three times during the week. When he was not preaching to great multitudes, he composed commentaries on Scripture. But in 397 he was chosen Patriarch of Constantinople, became involved in some of the important theological controversies of his day, and suffered unfair exile. He bore all this patiently and meekly. On September 14, 407, St. John Chrysostom (then in exile) received Holy Communion while wearing his white baptismal garment and spoke these last words: "Glory be to God for all things. Amen." Almost immediately after his death he was hailed as a saint by the Christians of his time. For his defense of the Orthodox faith and his profound interpretations of Scripture, he is known as one of the great "Three Hierarchs" of the Church, together with his older contemporaries, St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory the Theologian (their memory is celebrated together on January 30). He edited and handed down the text of the Divine Liturgy, which is still known by his name.

The following, taken from a long exposition on Ephesians 1: 15-20, explains what are the implications for those who belong to the Church-the Body of Christ-and also what it means to receive the Body of Christ-Holy Communion-in Divine Liturgy.

"Since we are speaking to you of the Body of Christ, come then, let us turn our minds to That, to the Body that was crucified, the Body that was fastened with nails, to That which was sacrificed. If you are the Body of Christ, bear the Cross; for He bore it! Suffer to be spat upon, bear with the blows, bear with the nails! Such things did it endure, the Body that was sinless. His Body 'that did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth' (I Pet. 2:22)….

"And since we are speaking of this Body, whoever among us shall partake of this Body and drink of this Blood, let them bear in mind that in nothing does it differ from that Body which sits on high, Which is adored by the Angels, seated close to the Unclouded Glory: it is of This we taste. Oh, how many are the ways of salvation open to us!"