S. John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church: Missa “In medio Ecclesiae”
The holy Patriarch of Constantinople received his surname “Chrysostom (golden mouth)” because he was the most eloquent preacher and the most prolific writer of the Greek Church. He was persecuted by the empress Eudoxia and her courtiers. He died in exile A.D. 407
The great golden throated orator Saint John Chrysostom, was born into a Christian family in Antioch in 349. Shortly after his father died and his mother, a woman of great virtue, raised John in the faith. Baptized at the age of 18, John was tutored by the great Greek public orator of his day Libanius, but in 374 John gave it all up in search of a higher calling and retreated to the mountains to live the life of a hermit.
Poor health forced him to return to Antioch where he was ordained a priest in 381. Utilizing all he had learned under the Greek master while incorporating the dogma of the true faith his fame soon spread and the faithful flocked to his Masses. This caught the attention of Pope Saint Siricus who appointed him to the influential bishopric as Patriarch of Constantinople.
Throughout his life John was a fierce defender of the true faith against Arianism and received the name Chrysostom which means “golden-mouthed” in Greek. Like fellow holy doctors Saint Athanasius and Saint Basil the Great of his time, John was not only greatly cherished by the people, but also falsely accused by the Arians, in particular the Bishop of Alexandria who forced John’s exile. John knew, like Basil, that the people would not stand for this and thus he called the Arian bishop’s bluff by refusing to show up for the mock trial that would condemn him, much in the same manner St. Athanasius had done.
Regardless, the Arian bishops unanimously decided to exile him. However John refused, claiming they had no authority and the Arians appealed to the Roman Empress Eudoxia who was moved to side with the Arians after hearing one of St. John’s sermons denouncing the pomp and luxury promulgated by the Roman rulers. It wasn’t until 403 that John was allowed to return by the Emperor Arcadius. However that was short-lived for, always loyal to Christ, John objected vehemently to the unveiling of a statue of the Empress Eudoxia who had exiled him. He did not object because of the exile edict, but rather the pagan nature attributed to the statue.
Once again exiled, he would not return until posthumously carried back by the Emperor’s son Theodosius II thirty years after the saint’s death. While John spent his last years in exile orchestrating the missionary efforts of Lebanon, Syria and Persia as well as helping in the conversion of the Goths, he continued his campaign to be reinstituted as the rightful Patriarch of Constantinople. He wrote the new pontiff Pope Saint Innocent I who had been elected the 40th Vicar of Christ on December 22, 401. Though Innocent was in favor as well as the Constantinople citizens who would accept no one else other than John as their bishop, the new Roman Emperor Theodosius was stronger and more influential. Thus he sent John even farther away.
John lived a total of 63 years, dying on the feast of the Holy Cross on September 14, 407 while enroute to the village of Comana near the Black Sea to preach. He received his Heavenly reward with the words “Glory be to God for everything. Amen” on his lips. He was pronounced a Doctor of the Church by Pope Saint Leo the Great at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, 44 years after his death. His most notable work The Priesthood is still very much applicable today, in fact, should be revisited in light of the terrible scandals of today’s clergy, many of whom have veered so far from their calling as chaste shepherds. St. John Chrysostom worte this treatise after his own ordination. The holy Pope Saint Pius X declared him the Patron Saint of Preachers.
This holy preacher of the 4th century considered Saint Paul the Apostle the man he most wanted to emulate. He wrote, “The heart of Paul is the Heart of Christ!” John also wrote of what occurred during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, “many of the blessed ones coming down from Heaven in shining garments, and with bare feet, eyes intent, and bowed heads in utter stillness and silence, assisting at the consummation of the tremendous mystery.” Butler’s Lives of the Saints, in their reflection on this powerful preacher point out that, “We should try to understand that the most productive work in the whole day, both for time and eternity, is that involved in hearing Mass. St. John Chrysostom felt this so keenly that he allowed no consideration of venerable image to interfere with the easiness of hearing Mass.” Oh, where are the St. John Chrysostoms’ of today when we need them most?
INTROIT Ecclesiasticus 15: 5
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory.. (Ps. 91: 2) It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat In the midst of the Church…
We beseech Thee, O Lord, let Thy heavenly grace give increase to Thy Church, which Thou wast pleased to adorn with the glorious merits and the teaching of blessed John Chrysostom, Thy Confessor and Bishop. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
EPISTLE 2 Timothy 4: 1-8
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to Timothy. Dearly beloved, I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by His coming and His kingdom: preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord, the just Judge, will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love His coming.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Ecclus. 44. 1, 20
Behold a great priest who in his days pleased God. V.: There was not any found like to him, who kept the law of the Most High. Alleluia, alleluia. V.: Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he hath been proved, he shall receive the crown of life. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 5: 13-19
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to e cast out, and to e trodden on by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. So let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, who is in heaven. Do not thik that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For amen I say unto yu, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven: but he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalms 91: 13
The just shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus.
May the holy prayer of St. John Chrysostom, Thy Bishop and Doctor, fail us not, O Lord: may it render our offerings accetable, and ever obtain for us Thy pardon. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R.Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Luke 12: 42
The faithful and wise servant whom his Lord setteth over his family: to give them their measure of wheat in due season.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that blessed John Chrysostom, Thy Bishop and illustrious Doctor, may approach to pray for us, that these Thy sacrifices may bring us salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
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