St. John Chrysostom

St. John Chrysostom †407Today, November 13, is the Feast Day of St. John Chrysostom in the Orthodox Church.

“He was expected to entertain; he did not. He cut his budget, and that of the clergy and widows, directing the funds to hospitals. . . .


What madness is this . . . one man defecates in a silver pot, another has not so much as a crust of bread.” He apologized for that comment a few days later. . . .

(On 1 Cor. 1:26-28: “26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.”

“persons of great insignificance [are chosen] to pull down boasting.” . . .

He counsels us all: “Become . . . a self-ordained steward of the poor. Thy benevolent mind assigns thee this priesthood.” . . .

As to why brethren would be called “least” he says, “the lowly, poor, and outcast” are the sort the Lord most greatly desires to “invite to brotherhood.” (Matt. 25) . . .

St. John was severe with those who lived luxuriously at the expense of others. “I am bursting with wrath” at those who would rent out their own children for dancers and chariot races and then are stingy with the needy. “Stretch out a liberal  to the needy . . .escape the intolerable pains of hell.” . . .

Also: “Mourn heavily, that thou mayest have continual cheerfulness.” He also recommends speaking freely of one’s defects and downplaying one’s achievements:. . . .

Along with prayer goes generosity in almsgiving, which is our crowning good deed and the means of our salvation.” (citing Cornelius, Acts 10) . . .

Giving must be attended “with sincerity and much sympathy.”

Let us not consider how to leave our children rich, but how to leave them virtuous.”

St. John advises, “. . . the best thing, that in your lifetime you give the larger half of your goods to the poor.” (in light of the poor widow and her two mites)

On the day of baptism, the wealthy, accomplished man stands side by side with the poor man and the person with a disability; he knows his bond with them, and does not look down on them, for together they are yearning to put on Christ.

Alms may be done not only by money, but by acts [such as] kindly standing by [or lending] a helping hand” . . . but exceed material help; “acquaint him with heaven, help him don the robe of righteousness, and be sure to wear your own.”

“What is ‘helps?’ (1 Cor. 12:8-10) (He answers) “to support the weak . . . this too is the gift of God.”

By face-to-face involvement, one becomes “a loving and merciful soul, . . . a fountain for all his brethren’s needs.”

Learning a trade or profession is nothing compared to the art of detachment from riches. “A pattern of life is needed . . . character, not cleverness; deeds, not words.”

St. John recommends each home have a room set aside for a homeless or disabled person . . . “by this means, the family receives Christ. . . . greater are the benefits we receive than what we confer“.

Only in toil can our minds and bodies find contentment.” (Applies to giving all people useful roles, not just giving things.)

(from St John Chrysostom and the Socialization of Persons with Developmental Disability: Patristic Inspiration for Contemporary Application in Resources: to read (online theses)


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