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The Liturgical Calendar: The Church Remembers

Today the church remembers John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, 407.

In an influential, prosperous, and sophisticated city at the apex of international power, it is rarely popular to advocate restraint, self-control, and responsible living. When the leaders of mighty Constantinople elected John Chrysostom to be Patriarch of the city, they thought they had elected a holy man who would bless and affirm them in their way of living. They were only half right.

Chrysostom"s powerful sermons in the great cathedral, Santa (Hagia) Sophia, soon became like a cauldron of scalding water thrown in the faces of the rich and proud citizens of Constantinople. His example of piety, charity, and simple living was an embarrassment to many. Eventually, through the intrigue of a vain and powerful lady, Eudoxia, and a jealous and corrupt clergyman, Theophilus, John was exiled. He died as a prisoner on a forced march into the Caucasus Mountains in winter, a martyr for righteousness in a society bent on lust. However, his preaching and exemplary living had so touched the hearts of many that sweeping reforms were soon instituted and life in the great city was profoundly changed for a generation or more.

The numerous volumes which we have of his sermons and commentaries have not lost their relevance today. The Liturgy of the Church in Constantinople, which he profoundly influenced, still bears his name. From this we get the “Prayer of St. Chrysostom” (The Book of Common Prayer, page 102).

Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplication to you; and you have promised through your well-beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.

Read the Wikipedia article here.

O God, you gave your servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim your righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of your Name: mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellence in preaching, and faithfulness in ministering your Word, that your people may be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

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