John Chrysostom: Homily 6 On Prayer

 

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Written: Ca. 380-407 A.D.

 

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"The lack of scriptural knowledge is the source of all evils in the Church."  -John Chrysostom, "Homily on Colossians"

John Chrysostom (349-Ca. 407 A.D.); Greek: Ιωάννης ο Χρυσόστομος (Ioannes Chrysostomos); was the archbishop of Constantinople.  He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by ecclesiastical and political leaders.  Named after him is "The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, used for over 1,000 years and still to this day on almost every Sunday in the Eastern Orthodox Churches.  After his death he was given the Greek surname chrysostomos, "golden mouthed", rendered in English as Chrysostom.

Endeared as one of the four great Doctors of the Church, John Chrysostom first prepared for a career in law.  John decided, after he had been baptised at age 23, to abandon law in favor of service to the Saviour.  He entered a monastery which served to educate him in preparation for his ordination as a priest.  His oratorical excellence gained him a reputation throughout the Christian world, that found favour with everyone but the Empress Eudoxia, whom he saw fit to examine in some of his sermons.

Churches of the Western tradition, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Lutheran church, commemorate him on September 13.  He is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint and a Doctor of the Church (preeminent teacher).  The Eastern Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches honor him as a saint (Feast Day, November 13) and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs (Feast Day, January 30), together with Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian.

His relics were looted from Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204 and brought to Rome, but were returned in 2004 by Pope John Paul II. 1

Homily 6 On Prayer:

Prayer is the light of the soul...

If we are generous in giving time to prayer, we will experience its benefits throughout our life.

There is nothing more worthwhile than to pray to God and to converse with him, for prayer unites us with God as his companions.  As our bodily eyes are illuminated by seeing the light, so in contemplating God our soul is illuminated by him.  Of course the prayer I have in mind is no matter of routine, it is deliberate and earnest.  It is not tied down to a fixed timetable; rather it is a state which endures by night and day.

Our soul should be directed in God, not merely when we suddenly think of prayer, but even when we are concerned with something else.  If we are looking after the poor, if we are busy in some other way, or if we are doing any type of good work, we should season our actions with the desire and the remembrance of God.  Through this salt of the love of God we can all become a sweet dish for the Lord.  If we are generous in giving time to prayer, we will experience its benefits throughout our life.

It is a desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not of human origin, but the gift of God's grace.

Prayer is the light of the soul, giving us true knowledge of God.  It is a link mediating between God and man.  By prayer the soul is borne up to heaven and in a marvelous way embraces the Lord.  This meeting is like that of an infant crying on its mother, and seeking the best of milk.  The soul longs for its own needs and what it receives is better than anything to be seen in the world.

Prayer is a precious way of communicating with God, it gladdens the soul and gives repose to its affections.  You should not think of prayer as being a matter of words.  It is a desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not of human origin, but the gift of God's grace.  As Saint Paul says: we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.

Once he has tasted this food, he is set alight by an eternal desire for the Lord, the fiercest of fires lighting up his soul.

Anyone who receives from the Lord the gift of this type of prayer possesses a richness that is not to be taken from him, a heavenly food filling up the soul.  Once he has tasted this food, he is set alight by an eternal desire for the Lord, the fiercest of fires lighting up his soul.

To set about this prayer, paint the house of your soul with modesty and lowliness and make it splendid with the light of justice.  Adorn it with the beaten gold of good works and, for walls and stones, embellish it assiduously with faith and generosity.  Above all, place prayer on top of this house as its roof so that the complete building may be ready for the Lord.  Thus he will be received in a splendid royal house and by grace his image will already be settled in your soul.

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1 Source: Wikipedia: John Chrysostom. ___________________________________________________________

 (Except Wikipedia text, and text from "Homily 6 On Prayer" by John Chrysostom, which is in the Public Domain) Copyright 2007 S.G.P. All Rights Reserved. ___________________________________________________________

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Image: Icon of St. John Chrysostom on the walls of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey. John Chrysostom mosaic on the wall of Hagia Sophia Church in Istanbul, Turkey (formerly: Constantinople, Byzantium).

"I do not believe in the salvation of anyone who does not try to save others."  -John Chrysostom ______________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 

 

 

(Romans 8:26)