Tuesday, 13 September 2011

St John Chrysostom

I've always had a great affection and devotion to St John, "the golden-mouthed," the great preacher of the Byzantine Church, as I was born on what was at the time (just) his feast day (originally the date of the transfer of his relics to Constantinople), 27th January.

Patrimonially speaking, he was known to many generations of Anglicans for the translation of the prayer which found a place in the daily offices of the 1662 Prayer Book:

Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee; and dost promise, that when two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests; Fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.

"For Chrysostom, the ecclesial unity that is brought about in Christ is attested to in a quite special way in the Eucharist. "Called "Doctor of the Eucharist' because of the vastness and depth of his teaching on the Most Holy Sacrament." he taught that the sacramental unity of the Eucharist constitutes the basis of ecclesial unity in and for Christ." Of course, there are many things to keep us united. A table is prepared before all... all are offered the same drink, or, rather, not only the same drink but also the same cup. Our Father, desiring to lead us to tender affection, has also disposed this: that we drink from one cup, something that is befitting to an intense love." Reflecting on the words of St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, "The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" John commented: for the Apostle, therefore, "just as that body is united to Christ, so we are united to him through this bread." And even more clearly, in the light of the Apostle's subsequent words: "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body." John argued: "What is bread? The Body of Christ. And what does it become when we eat it? The Body of Christ; not many bodies but one body. "Just as bread becomes one loaf although it is made of numerous grains of wheat..., so we too are united both with one another and with Christ.... Now, if we are nourished by the same loaf and all become the same thing, why do we not also show the same love, so as to become one in this dimension, too?"

 Chrysostom's faith in the mystery of love that binds believers to Christ and to one another led him to experience profound veneration for the Eucharist, a veneration which he nourished in particular in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. Indeed, one of the richest forms of the Eastern Liturgy bears his name: "The Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom". John understood that the Divine Liturgy places the believer spiritually between earthly life and the heavenly realities that have been promised by the Lord. "
Pope Benedict XVI

1 comment:

  1. Such a beautiful prayer. Have there been any improvements on 1662?
    Good to see you back.


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