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Author Topic: Why Is St. John Chrysostom So Revered?  (Read 950 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: April 22, 2012, 03:52:27 AM »

I ask this not out of offense, but out of true curiousity. In the Orthodox Church, many people absolutely love St. John Chrysostom and we even have him as one of our three Holy Heirarchs. But, my question is, why is he revered and regarded so highly? What exactly did he do that earned him all of this? All I know is that he gave some amazing sermons (Hence the Goldenmouth) and gave to the poor. Other than that, I am not aware of much else. I do not see how he really influenced the Orthodox Church theologically in any amazingly significant way like St. Athanasius did and I do not think he has a really inspiring conversion story, autobiography that touches millions of people like St. Augustine. Yet, he is still regarded as being even higher or at least equal in terms of significance and reverence as these figures but I do not understand why. I could think of a dozen saints who have inspired me more than St. John Chrysostom and seem more significant in my opinion, so why do we revere him so much? Is St. John Chrysostom basically the 'Tupac' of the Saints in terms that he is probably more respected and highly regarded than all of the others even though there are actually dozens of Saints which are more inspirational than him? Once again, I mean no disrespect. I truly ask this out of curiousity.
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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2012, 04:02:03 AM »

I ask this not out of offense, but out of true curiousity. In the Orthodox Church, many people absolutely love St. John Chrysostom and we even have him as one of our three Holy Heirarchs. But, my question is, why is he revered and regarded so highly? What exactly did he do that earned him all of this? All I know is that he gave some amazing sermons (Hence the Goldenmouth) and gave to the poor. Other than that, I am not aware of much else. I do not see how he really influenced the Orthodox Church theologically in any amazingly significant way like St. Athanasius did and I do not think he has a really inspiring conversion story, autobiography that touches millions of people like St. Augustine. Yet, he is still regarded as being even higher or at least equal in terms of significance and reverence as these figures but I do not understand why. I could think of a dozen saints who have inspired me more than St. John Chrysostom and seem more significant in my opinion, so why do we revere him so much? Is St. John Chrysostom basically the 'Tupac' of the Saints in terms that he is probably more respected and highly regarded than all of the others even though there are actually dozens of Saints which are more inspirational than him? Once again, I mean no disrespect. I truly ask this out of curiousity.

Considering that we use a liturgy with his name on for most of the year...

But if that's not enough, he is also remembered for his homilies. His paschal homily, for example, is traditionally read during the Easter Liturgy.
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2012, 04:07:36 AM »

I ask this not out of offense, but out of true curiousity. In the Orthodox Church, many people absolutely love St. John Chrysostom and we even have him as one of our three Holy Heirarchs. But, my question is, why is he revered and regarded so highly? What exactly did he do that earned him all of this? All I know is that he gave some amazing sermons (Hence the Goldenmouth) and gave to the poor. Other than that, I am not aware of much else. I do not see how he really influenced the Orthodox Church theologically in any amazingly significant way like St. Athanasius did and I do not think he has a really inspiring conversion story, autobiography that touches millions of people like St. Augustine. Yet, he is still regarded as being even higher or at least equal in terms of significance and reverence as these figures but I do not understand why. I could think of a dozen saints who have inspired me more than St. John Chrysostom and seem more significant in my opinion, so why do we revere him so much? Is St. John Chrysostom basically the 'Tupac' of the Saints in terms that he is probably more respected and highly regarded than all of the others even though there are actually dozens of Saints which are more inspirational than him? Once again, I mean no disrespect. I truly ask this out of curiousity.

Considering that we use a liturgy with his name on for most of the year...

But if that's not enough, he is also remembered for his homilies. His paschal homily, for example, is traditionally read during the Easter Liturgy.

This is my question; why do we celebrate his liturgy most of the year? What makes it so unique compared to others? And, yeah his homilies are good, but I found the Confessions by St. Augustine ten times more inspirational than St. John Chrysostom's greatest homily. Just giving a few homilies does not really seem to answer why he receives so much reverence. What is so unique about him? I honestly tried to get into him before, pray to him and read his autobiography and all but I just was not 'feeling it' if you will no matter how hard I tried.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2012, 04:08:56 AM by JamesR » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2012, 04:27:01 AM »

I ask this not out of offense, but out of true curiousity. In the Orthodox Church, many people absolutely love St. John Chrysostom and we even have him as one of our three Holy Heirarchs. But, my question is, why is he revered and regarded so highly? What exactly did he do that earned him all of this? All I know is that he gave some amazing sermons (Hence the Goldenmouth) and gave to the poor. Other than that, I am not aware of much else. I do not see how he really influenced the Orthodox Church theologically in any amazingly significant way like St. Athanasius did and I do not think he has a really inspiring conversion story, autobiography that touches millions of people like St. Augustine. Yet, he is still regarded as being even higher or at least equal in terms of significance and reverence as these figures but I do not understand why. I could think of a dozen saints who have inspired me more than St. John Chrysostom and seem more significant in my opinion, so why do we revere him so much? Is St. John Chrysostom basically the 'Tupac' of the Saints in terms that he is probably more respected and highly regarded than all of the others even though there are actually dozens of Saints which are more inspirational than him? Once again, I mean no disrespect. I truly ask this out of curiousity.

Considering that we use a liturgy with his name on for most of the year...

But if that's not enough, he is also remembered for his homilies. His paschal homily, for example, is traditionally read during the Easter Liturgy.

This is my question; why do we celebrate his liturgy most of the year? What makes it so unique compared to others? And, yeah his homilies are good, but I found the Confessions by St. Augustine ten times more inspirational than St. John Chrysostom's greatest homily. Just giving a few homilies does not really seem to answer why he receives so much reverence. What is so unique about him? I honestly tried to get into him before, pray to him and read his autobiography and all but I just was not 'feeling it' if you will no matter how hard I tried.

Is it a man's ideas which make him holy or is it his way of life? St. John Chrysostom was also deposed unjustly and sent into exile because part of his message was not so popular with the court in Constantinople. He was a holy man, and is remembered for his care of his flock. I think you are maybe giving too much weight to philosophical contribution over a person's way of life. In respect to his homilies and his way of life, there really is no good reason why he should not be remembered along with the other great saints like St. Basil, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Maximus the Confessor, etc.
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2012, 06:04:53 AM »

Well, I personally have come to have great interest in the man, since I do a lot of public speaking. Don't neglect the power of a great speech.

And a comparison to Tupac, really? How about the Johann Sebastian Bach of Saints? Or in more modern terms, I suppose something like the Beatles.
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2012, 06:19:17 AM »

I think in some sense he's like the dream spiritual father. He was fairly pastorally-sensitive, yet could be stern and direct when necessary. He tried to reach people where they were, for example translating works into the local language rather than insisting that people learn Greek/Latin. He could have lived as luxuriously as he wanted (after he got to Constantinople anyway), but lived a modest lifestyle. He was capable of great sermons, yet focused not on his own ideas or speculations so much as discussing what Scripture said. He wrote a lot of stuff on Scripture, which later authors (e.g. St. Theophylact) apparently thought worthy of following closely. He actually did have some good theological stuff to say (e.g. on gender, anthropology, etc.), but it was often layered with practical ideas and scriptural interpretation. His liturgy is still used (if in modified form), whether because it is superior or not I don't know. Also, he did not want to be a clergyman, but eventually agreed to it (in other words, he didn't want to be a clergyman for fame, power, etc.).
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2012, 09:59:19 AM »

he he, giving amazing sermons and giving to the poor just about sums up what we are supposed to be doing!
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2012, 10:08:05 AM »

I think in some sense he's like the dream spiritual father. He was fairly pastorally-sensitive, yet could be stern and direct when necessary. He tried to reach people where they were, for example translating works into the local language rather than insisting that people learn Greek/Latin. He could have lived as luxuriously as he wanted (after he got to Constantinople anyway), but lived a modest lifestyle. He was capable of great sermons, yet focused not on his own ideas or speculations so much as discussing what Scripture said. He wrote a lot of stuff on Scripture, which later authors (e.g. St. Theophylact) apparently thought worthy of following closely. He actually did have some good theological stuff to say (e.g. on gender, anthropology, etc.), but it was often layered with practical ideas and scriptural interpretation. His liturgy is still used (if in modified form), whether because it is superior or not I don't know. Also, he did not want to be a clergyman, but eventually agreed to it (in other words, he didn't want to be a clergyman for fame, power, etc.).
He was a man for the common folk, and not one who flatters the powerful.  It was his button pushing technique on the queen and his protection of those persecuted that got him in trouble.  But yes, he was not like any other.  He was arguably a martyr.  On the end of his life, be said "Glory to God in all things.". Because of this great example, the injustice done against him, his holiness, his practical and pastoral care, his oratory skills, and his devotion to the faith, he stood out as one heck of a perfect example, even praised by our own Coptic church, despite the bad blood with the Antiochian school he belonged to.

If you pretty much read about his life, you can't help but marvel.
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« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2012, 10:40:03 AM »

I ask this not out of offense, but out of true curiousity. In the Orthodox Church, many people absolutely love St. John Chrysostom and we even have him as one of our three Holy Heirarchs. But, my question is, why is he revered and regarded so highly? What exactly did he do that earned him all of this? All I know is that he gave some amazing sermons (Hence the Goldenmouth) and gave to the poor. Other than that, I am not aware of much else. I do not see how he really influenced the Orthodox Church theologically in any amazingly significant way like St. Athanasius did and I do not think he has a really inspiring conversion story, autobiography that touches millions of people like St. Augustine. Yet, he is still regarded as being even higher or at least equal in terms of significance and reverence as these figures but I do not understand why. I could think of a dozen saints who have inspired me more than St. John Chrysostom and seem more significant in my opinion, so why do we revere him so much? Is St. John Chrysostom basically the 'Tupac' of the Saints in terms that he is probably more respected and highly regarded than all of the others even though there are actually dozens of Saints which are more inspirational than him? Once again, I mean no disrespect. I truly ask this out of curiousity.

Considering that we use a liturgy with his name on for most of the year...

But if that's not enough, he is also remembered for his homilies. His paschal homily, for example, is traditionally read during the Easter Liturgy.

This is my question; why do we celebrate his liturgy most of the year? What makes it so unique compared to others? And, yeah his homilies are good, but I found the Confessions by St. Augustine ten times more inspirational than St. John Chrysostom's greatest homily. Just giving a few homilies does not really seem to answer why he receives so much reverence. What is so unique about him? I honestly tried to get into him before, pray to him and read his autobiography and all but I just was not 'feeling it' if you will no matter how hard I tried.
Btw, using his DL most of the year is somewhat recent, post Vatican schism.  Before the DL of St. Basil was used, it usage today on major feasts and during Lent is the vestige of this practice.

St. John was the first Archbishop/proto-patriarch to put Constantinople in the big league with the other sees (St. Gregory's tenure was clouded).  As his see rose, so did his reputation.
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« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2012, 10:59:28 AM »

Btw, using his DL most of the year is somewhat recent, post Vatican schism.  Before the DL of St. Basil was used, it usage today on major feasts and during Lent is the vestige of this practice.
What caused this change? Is it still that way in the old world?
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« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2012, 01:13:50 PM »

More importantly why did Croatia fabricate a legend regarding him? Eventhough the story is awesome, it makes little sense compared to the actual life he led.
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« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2012, 01:20:15 PM »

Just a handy little detail: if you wish to read some of his sermons, Google Books has pdf files of them. Just do a search for his name there.
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« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2012, 01:38:34 PM »

St. John is often said to "have the mind of the Apostle Paul." There are even stories of people seeing him writing his commentaries at night, being assisted by a short, gruff bald man. It later would come out that this was indeed St. Paul himself!

This saint's pastoral care, particularly his defense of true Christian living in the face of a debaucherous imperial court and great many good works earns him great reverence among the Orthodox faithful.

That said, I don't have a big, personal devotion to him. He's not even my favorite of the Three Holy Hierarchs, and I know plenty of others that would say the same.

EDIT: Some could also say the same thing about why is there such a big devotion to other saints, like St. Nicholas. Sure, he did a lot of neat things...but in fact, we know relatively little about his life, and have no writings of his to speak of. At least we have St. John's homilies and commentaries.
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« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2012, 02:46:53 PM »

Should we as an Orthodox Christians have some kind of special devotion to these celebrity Saints like John Chrysostom or are we free to pick our own favourites?
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« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2012, 03:50:41 PM »

How many saints do we have that were kidnapped from somewhere else to be made bishop of a city because of his preaching, and then exiled (he died on his march into exile) from that same city because of his preaching?
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« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2012, 03:56:33 PM »

Should we as an Orthodox Christians have some kind of special devotion to these celebrity Saints like John Chrysostom or are we free to pick our own favourites?

Devotion to the saints is very much a personal thing. It is, fundamentally, a relationship and just as you are not required to be best friends with the head of the parish council when you get along better/have more in common with the quiet guy in the corner, if it's a saint so obscure that I can't even think of his name to use as an example here that you feel more connection with than St. Nicholas or St. John Chrysostom or St. Barbara, that is definitely your own business.
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« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2012, 04:41:27 PM »

if it's a saint so obscure that I can't even think of his name to use as an example here

You have just adequatly descriped my Patron Saint.  angel

EDIT: Thank you for reminding of him since I completely forgot that according to Finnish calendar his feast day was yesterday. It seems that my Patron is scolding me for forgotting him. police

St. Januarius, pray for us!
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« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2012, 05:24:11 PM »

if it's a saint so obscure that I can't even think of his name to use as an example here

You have just adequatly descriped my Patron Saint.  angel

EDIT: Thank you for reminding of him since I completely forgot that according to Finnish calendar his feast day was yesterday. It seems that my Patron is scolding me for forgotting him. police

St. Januarius, pray for us!

Mine as well--and yes one of the drawbacks to having an obscure saint as a patron is that if you forget his feast day, no one is going to remind you. (The other big one is that is it's not possible to get 'ready-made' icons--it's a custom order or nothing).

St. Caedmon, pray to God for us!
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« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2012, 05:32:59 PM »

if it's a saint so obscure that I can't even think of his name to use as an example here

You have just adequatly descriped my Patron Saint.  angel

EDIT: Thank you for reminding of him since I completely forgot that according to Finnish calendar his feast day was yesterday. It seems that my Patron is scolding me for forgotting him. police

St. Januarius, pray for us!

Mine as well--and yes one of the drawbacks to having an obscure saint as a patron is that if you forget his feast day, no one is going to remind you. (The other big one is that is it's not possible to get 'ready-made' icons--it's a custom order or nothing).

St. Caedmon, pray to God for us!

Haha. I know this struggle. Grin

Holy Martyr Benjamin, pray to God for us!
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« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2012, 07:48:35 PM »

In the words of Presvytera Jeannie, it would be "hard to find someone more orthodox" than the blessed St John called Chrysostom.

I hold his memory particularly close to my heart. May it be eternal.
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