Thursday, November 13, 2008

Divine Inspiration and St. John Chrysostom

Icon depicting the Divine inspiration of St. John Chrysostom: St. Proclos his disciple witnessing St. Paul speaking into St. John's ear. (Icon courtesy of used with permission.)
"Saint John [Chrysostom] was renowned for his explanations of the Holy Scriptures. He also interpreted the Epistles of Saint Paul, whom he admired greatly. In order to assure himself that the interpretation of the Epistles were correct, he asked God to offer him a sign.
At that same time, a nobleman had risen against Emperor Arcadius. The Emperor, in turn, confiscated all of the man's possessions and threatened to execute him. The nobleman became desperate and decided to ask for Saint John's assistance. When he arrived at the Patriarchate, Saint John could not offer him an audience immediately, but instructed him to return that evening. Saint John told the assistant priest, Proclos (who later succeeded Saint John as Patriarch), to show the nobleman to the Saint's room when he arrived. That evening, the nobleman returned and Proclos went to inform the Patriarch of his arrival. The door to the room was shut, so Proclos looked through the keyhole. He saw Saint John sitting at his desk writing, with a bald-headed man, slightly bent, looking over his shoulder. Seeing this, Proclos returned to the nobleman and told him that the Patriarch was in conference. Proclos returned to the Patriarch's room several times during the night, but the man was still talking with John. Thus the nobleman waited the entire night to see Saint John. Morning came and the Patriarch prepared to perform the orthros, realizing neither that the nobleman had waited all night for him, nor that Proclos had seen the vision.

That morning the nobleman returned to the Patriarchate since it was of the utmost importance for him to see the Patriach. Proclos went again to inform John of the nobleman's arrival, but again saw the same man in the Patriarch;s room. John looked extremely interested in what the man was telling him. Proclos was bewildered on how the man was entering, since everyone had to come by him.
The nobleman returned for the fourth time and Proclos assured him that the Patriarch was alone, for he had made certain that no one passed without his knowledge. When Proclos went to the Patriarch's room, he was shocked to find the same man still there. He returned to the nobleman and told him to go to his home for it was impossible for him to see John.

That third day, the Saint had remembered the nobleman and inquired about him. Proclos told John that the man had come three times, but each time, the Patriarch was busy talking to the same man. John asked Proclos whom he had seen in the room. Proclos told him that it looked as if it were the Apostle Paul, whose icon sat on the Saint's desk. Joyously, Saint John realized that this was the sign he had asked for from God concerning his interpretations of the Apostle's epistles. Thus, Saint John wrote The Fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul containing the explanation of the letters. This book is one of the greatest works in the writings of the Orthodox Church.

After conferring with the nobleman, the Patriarch agreed to act as mediator between the nobleman and the Emperor. Within a short time, the differences were settled and the nobleman was again granted his confiscated property"
(For the Glory of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: A History of Eastern Orthodox Saints, by Michael James Fochios, translations from the Great Synaxaristes)

A real photograph of the Holy Skull of St. John Chrysostom, treasured by the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos. It is clear that St. John's ear is incorrupt after 1600 years by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, as a testament to the miracle related above.

St. John Chrysostom's introduction to his commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (Downloaded from

"As I keep hearing the Epistles of the blessed Paul read, and that twice every week, and often three or four times, whenever we are celebrating the memorials of the holy martyrs, gladly do I enjoy the spiritual trumpet, and get roused and warmed with desire at recognizing the voice so dear to me, and seem to fancy him all but present to my sight, and behold him conversing with me. But I grieve and am pained, that all people do not know this man, as much as they ought to know him; but some are so far ignorant of him, as not even to know for certainty the number of his Epistles. And this comes not of incapacity, but of their not having the wish to be continually conversing with this blessed man. For it is not through any natural readiness and sharpness of wit that even I am acquainted with as much as I do know, if I do know anything, but owing to a continual cleaving to the man, and an earnest affection towards him. For, what belongs to men beloved, they who love them know above all others; because they are interested in them. And this also this blessed Apostle shows in what he said to the Philippians; “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel.” (Phil. i. 7.) And so ye also, if ye be willing to apply to the reading of him with a ready mind, will need no other aid. For the word of Christ is true which saith, “Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. vii. 7.) But since the greater part of those who here gather themselves to us, have taken upon themselves the bringing up of children, and the care of a wife, and the charge of a family, and for this cause cannot afford to all events aroused to receive those things which have been brought together by others, and bestow as much attention upon the hearing of what is said as ye give to the gathering together of goods. For although it is unseemly to demand only so much of you, yet still one must be content if ye give as much. For from this it is that our countless evils have arisen—from ignorance of the Scriptures; from this it is that the plague of heresies has broken out; from this that there are negligent lives; from this labors without advantage. For as men deprived of this daylight would not walk aright, so they that look not to the gleaming of the Holy Scriptures must needs be frequently and constantly sinning, in that they are walking in the worst darkness. And that this fall not out, let us hold our eyes open to the bright shining of the Apostle’s words; for this man’s tongue shone forth above the sun, and he abounded more than all the rest in the word of doctrine; for since he labored more abundantly than they, he also drew upon himself a large measure of the Spirit’s grace. 336(1 Cor. xv. 10.)"

For the life of St. John Chrysostom, see, among many other sources.
Icon of St. John Chrysostom. (Icon courtesy of used with permission.)
Apolytikion. Tone 8. Model Melody.
The grace which shone from your mouth like a torch of flame enlightened the whole earth; it laid up for the world the treasures of freedom from avarice; it showed us the height of humility. But as you train us by your words, Father John Chrysostom, intercede with Christ God, the Word, that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion. Tone 6.
You received divine grace from heaven, and through your lips you teach us all to worship one God in Trinity, venerable John Chrysostom, wholly blessed. Fittingly we praise you, for you are a teacher who makes clear things divine.
The Ikos.
I bow the knee to the Maker of all things, I stretch out my hands to the eternal Word seeking the gift of words that I may sing the praise of the Saint whom he magnified. For he who lives to the ages said to the Prophet: I glorify those who glorify me with faith. He then, who among those of old exalted Samuel, has now glorified his Hierarch. For having traded well he brought the talent with which he had been entrusted to the King. Therefore the One above all being also exalted him. For this reason I the unworthy ask that words be given me that I may have strength to sing his praise. For he is the instructor of the of the world who makes clear things divine.
(Hymns to St. John Chrysostom above translated by Fr. Ephraim Lash, downloaded from:
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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