View all Uncle Eddy | September 13, 2017
St John Chrysostom
Archbishop of Constantinople and Doctor of the Church (entered heaven around 407)
If you spent as much time finding ways to spread Christ’s truth as you do complaining about campus “political correctness” you would already have eliminated the problem. Everything you say in your notes is right on target, and extremely well put – but you don’t have to convince me! I already agree with you! I would be willing to receive fewer pieces of correspondence from you in order to see you put your writing skills to work in more productive ways. Why not start a column in the student Daily? Why not write letters to the editor? Why not start your own counter cultural student newspaper dedicated to publicizing the other side of the story? Get the word out! You can follow in the footsteps of today’s saint.
Chrysostom, like you, had the gift of eloquence, though it shined forth more n his speaking than in his writing. As a matter of fact, many generations of scholars have agreed that he may be the greatest preacher ever. His Christian mother saw to it that he received the best education available in his day, with a concentration in rhetoric, and he far surpassed his instructors by the time he reached adolescence (this all happened in Syria). After finishing his studies and being baptized, he and some buddies (among them the future St Basil the Great – saints of a feather flock together) went off to the desert to learn the spiritual ropes under the tutelage of the holy monks. They learned the art of prayer, self-discipline, and penance before returning to civilization, where their holiness and talent were immediately recognized, and they were ordained to serve the Church.
John was made a deacon in the ancient city of Antioch. There he began his preaching career, which soon became a primary agent of religious and political influence throughout the empire. His eloquence won the hearts of his listeners, and his exemplary virtue and concern for the poor solidified his victory. In a few years he was made archbishop of Constantinople, the most important See in the eastern empire, and the residence of the emperor. There he undertook a reform of the clergy through personal appeals and changes in ecclesiastical discipline, and a reform of the city through vehement preaching and numerous pastoral initiatives – all of which got him in trouble. Many of his fellow bishops envied his popularity with the people and the success of his apostolic labors, and numerous courtiers resented his reproaches of imperial pride and licentiousness. They conspired to have him exiled. Only a few days after his departure, however, the city was struck by mild earthquake. The superstitious empress had him quickly reinstated, fearing further reprisals from on high. But her clemency was short-lived. The holy archbishop soon fell out of her graces again, when he denounced a colossal silver statue of herself (and the immodest celebrations that accompanied its unveiling) that she erected outside the Cathedral. From his second exile he never returned. The aged prelate died of exhaustion and exposure brought on by his unending trek further and further into the harsh lands of his banishment.
In a time when Christian morality needed a courageous spokesman, St John Chrysostom shouldered the task, defending Christ’s Kingdom even by sacrificing his popularity and his very life. Does Christian morality need a courageous spokesperson on your campus? Perhaps God wants you to pick up the torch – or, rather, the pen.
Prayerfully yours, Uncle Eddy