Category Archives: Saints

Saint John Chrysostom: one of the most insightful preachers of the Church

September 13th is the liturgical memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, one of the Church’s greatest bishops ever known. The word “Chrysostom” is a nickname meaning “golden mouth” given to John as archbishop of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) to honor his gift in preaching Jesus Christ. The saint lived (347-407) in an era much like our own with some people living a tepid discipleship with the Lord and weak morals. Saint John’s preaching was based on sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Church; his sermons were (and continue to be) persuasive. A recent biographer said of Chrysostom: “by word and example he exemplifies the role of the prophet in giving comfort to the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable.” And so he was exiled and suffered greatly for the Gospel; he was certain of Christ crucified and resurrected that he could be and do nothing else: to be the voice and hand of Christ to his people. A portion of his sermon on 2 Thessalonians follows. It’s deals with love and how to live in love with others.

 

For that your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another abounds.

 

St John Chrysostom.jpgAnd how, you say, can faith increase? That is when we suffer something dreadful for it. It is a great thing for it to be established, and not to be carried away by reasonings. But when the winds assail us, when the rains burst upon us, when a violent storm is raised on every side, and the waves succeed each other– then that we are not shaken, is a proof of no less than this, that it grows, and grows exceedingly, and becomes loftier. For as in the case of the flood all the stony and lower parts are soon hidden, but as many things as are above, it reaches not them, so also the faith that is become lofty, is not drawn downwards. For this reason he does not say your faith grows; but grows exceedingly, and the love of each one of you all toward one another abounds.

Do you see how this contributes for the ease of affliction, to be in close guard together, and to adhere to one another? From this also arose much consolation. The love and faith, therefore, that is weak, afflictions shake, but that which is strong they render stronger. For a soul that is in grief, when it is weak, can add nothing to itself; but that which is strong does it then most. And observe their love. They did not love one indeed, and not love another, but it was equal on the part of all. For this he has intimated, by saying, of each one of you all toward one another. For it was equally poised, as that of one body. Since even now we find love existing among many, but this love becoming the cause of division. For when we are knit together in parties of two or three, and the two indeed, or three or four, are closely bound to one another, but draw themselves off from the rest, because they can have recourse to these, and in all things confide in these; this is the division of love– not love. For tell me, if the eye should bestow upon the hand the foresight which it has for the whole body, and withdrawing itself from the other members, should attend to that alone, would it not injure the whole? Assuredly. So also if we confine to one or two the love which ought to be extended to the whole Church of God, we injure both ourselves and them, and the whole. For these things are not of love, but of division; schisms, and distracting rents. Since even if I separate and take a member from the whole man, the part separated indeed is united in itself, is continuous, all compacted together, yet even so it is a separation, since it is not united to the rest of the body.

 

For what advantage is it, that you love a certain person exceedingly? It is a human love. But if it is not a human love, but you love for God’s sake, then love all. For so God has commanded to love even our enemies. And if He has commanded to love our enemies, how much more those who have never aggrieved us? But, do you say, I love, but not in that way. Rather, you do not love at all. For when you accuse, when you envy, when you lay snares, how do you love? But, do you say, I do none of these things. But when a man is ill spoken of, and you do not shut the mouth of the speaker, dost not disbelieve his sayings, dost not check him, of what love is this the sign? And the love, he says, of each one of you all toward one another abounds.

 

(Saint John Chrysostom, Homily on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-2; emphasis mine)

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

 

Before you speak, it is necessary for you to listen,

for God speaks in the silence of the heart.



Blessed Teresa.jpg 

(August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997)

 

O God, who called the virgin Blessed Teresa
to respond to the love of your Son thirsting on the cross
with outstanding charity to the poorest of the poor,
grant us, we beseech you, by her intercession,
to minister to Christ in his suffering brothers and sisters.

A Man Immersed in God

Today is the feast of the illustrious saint and pope, Gregory whom we call “the Great.” In his June 4th 2008 catechesis on Saint Gregory the Great, Pope Benedict said:

 

… [Saint Gregory the Great] proposes his thought through some significant binomials —
esctasy of St Gregpry the Great.jpgknow how/do, speak/live, know something/act — in which he evokes the two aspects of human life which should be complementary, but which often end up by being antithetical. The moral ideal, he comments, consists in achieving always a harmonious integration between word and action, thought and commitment, prayer and dedication to the duties of one’s state: This is the road to attain that synthesis thanks to which the divine descends into man and man is raised to identification with God.

The inspirational principle, which links together the various addresses [of this great Pope], is summarized in the word “praedicator”: Not only the minister of God, but also every Christian, has the duty to make himself a “preacher” of what he has experienced in his own interior, following the example of Christ who became man to take to all the proclamation of salvation. The horizon of this commitment is eschatological: The expectation of fulfillment in Christ of all things is a constant thought of the great Pontiff and ends by being the inspirational motive of his every thought and activity. From here flow his incessant calls to vigilance and commitment to good works.

 

Perhaps the most organic text of Gregory the Great is the Pastoral Rule, written in the first years of his pontificate. In it Gregory intends to delineate the figure of the ideal bishop, teacher and guide of his flock. To this end he illustrates the gravity of the office of pastor of the Church and the duties it entails: Therefore, those who are called to such a task were not called and did not search for it superficially, those instead who assume it without due reflection feel arising in their spirit an onerous trepidation.

Taking up again a favorite topic, he affirms that the bishop is above all the “preacher” par excellence. As such, he must be above all an example to others, so that his behavior can be a reference point for all. Effective pastoral action requires therefore that he know the recipients and adapt his addresses to each one’s situation. Gregory pauses to illustrate the different categories of faithful with acute and precise annotations, which can justify the appraisal of those who have seen in this work a treatise of psychology. From here one understands that he really knew his flock and spoke about everything with the people of his time and of his city.

 

The great Pontiff, moreover, stresses the daily duty that a pastor has to acknowledge his own misery, so that pride will not render vain — before the eyes of the supreme Judge — the good he accomplished. Therefore, the last chapter of the rule is dedicated to humility. “When one is pleased about having attained many virtues it is good to reflect on one’s own insufficiencies and humble oneself. Instead of considering the good accomplished, it is necessary to consider what one has failed to accomplish.” 

 

Amen, for now. 

 

What Providence disposed: Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

The September 1st issue of America Magazine, the Jesuit weekly, there is a good article

seton.jpgto read on America’s first canonized saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. Sister of Charity Regina Bechtle’s article “An American Daughter: Elizabeth Ann Seton and the birth of the U.S. Church” is a good read for those generally interested in matters pertaining to Catholicism in America. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to know that Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first American born canonized a saint by Pope Paul VI in 1975?

 

What’s the point of this “stuff” about Seton in late August when her feast day is in January? Well, for one, August 28th marked her 234th birthday and mid-September marks 33 years since Seton was canonized. Too, this year is the 200th anniversary of Pope Pius VII named Baltimore an “archdiocese” along with 4 other Catholic dioceses.

 

We might also consider the possibility of making a pilgrimage to one of the shrines dedicated to Seton. In a real sense it is less important that we end up at a holy spot just for doing it than it is to take stock of our spiritual lives with God’s grace and with assistance of a particularly singular saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, who made a deliberate choice to follow Christ through His sacrament, the Catholic Church. (BTW, she was a believing Christian but she did not possess the fullness of Truth as we know it in Catholicism.) A pilgrimage, therefore, may open for us an opportunity to acknowledge the exceptional Presence before us like we’ve never understood before now. So, what happens to us on the way to a holy shrine is very important indeed. Hence, we follow Christ!

 

In case you want to visit the shrines of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton on the east coast there

Seton Shrine.jpgare two:

 

1. The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg, Maryland

 

2. The Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, New York City

 

 

Lord God, you blessed Elizabeth Ann Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers, may we, whose Faith Community is dedicated in her honor, learn to express our love for you in our love for all your children. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

The just shall flourish: the witness of Saint John the Baptist


Martyrdom of St John Baptist.jpg“This great man after a long agony of captivity, ended his life on earth with the shedding of his blood. He who preached the freedom of heavenly peace was thrown into captivity by wicked men. He who was called a burning and shining light by Christ the light, was imprisoned in darkness: he who was granted the privilege of baptizing the Redeemer of the world was given baptism in his own blood” (Saint Bede the Venerable).

 

We beseech Thee, O Lord, may the holy festival of Saint John the Baptist, Thy Precursor and Martyr, obtain for us help unto salvation.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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