September 13 is the feast day (in the Roman Catholic Church) of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and Doctor of the Church. An Early Church Father best known for his preaching and public speaking, Saint John was given the name Chrysostomos, meaning “golden mouthed,” after death.
Born in Antioch in 349, John studied under a pagan teacher of rhetoric who taught him many skills of oratory and instilled in him a love of language and literature. After being ordained a priest and bishop, John used these skills artfully in his homilies and catechesis.
What set him apart from others in his time period was his ability to apply scripture to everyday circumstances, teaching people how to incorporate the Gospel in all that they did. His practical sensibility has given his words an enduring quality, inspiring men and women across the world more than a thousand years after his death.
To give you a sense of his “golden mouth” and ability to apply the Gospel to everyday life, here are 10 inspiring quotes from Saint John Chrysostom:
1) “If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice.”
2) “So let the name of the saints enter our homes through the naming of our children, to train not only the child but the father, when he reflects that he is the father of John or Elijah or James; for, if the name be given with forethought to pay honor to those that have departed, and we grasp at our kinship with the righteous rather than with our forebears, this too will greatly help us and our children. Do not because it is a small thing regard it as small; its purpose is to succor us.”
3) “No matter how just your words may be, you ruin everything when you speak with anger.”
4) “Do not be ashamed to enter again into the Church. Be ashamed when you sin. Do not be ashamed when you repent. Pay attention to what the devil did to you. These are two things: sin and repentance. Sin is a wound; repentance is a medicine. Just as there are for the body wounds and medicines, so for the soul are sins and repentance. However, sin has the shame and repentance possesses the courage.”
5) “To destroy the fetus ‘is something worse than murder.’ The one who does this ‘does not take away life that has already been born, but prevents it from being born.’”
6) “The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together. Men will take up arms and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of this love….when harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends, and relatives praise the result. Great benefits, both of families and states, are thus produced. When it is otherwise, however, everything is thrown into confusion and turned upside-down.”
7) “The saints are exceedingly loving and gentle to mankind, and even to brute beasts…Surely we ought to show them (animals) great kindness and gentleness for many reasons, but, above all, because they are of the same origin as ourselves.”
8) “Have you sinned? Come to Church. Tell God, ‘I have sinned.’ I do not demand anything else of you than this. Holy Scripture states, ‘Be the first one to tell of your transgressions, so you may be justified.’ Admit the sin to annul it. This requires neither labor nor a circuit of words, nor monetary expenditure, nor anything else whatsoever such as these. Say one word, think carefully about the sin and say, ‘I have sinned.’”
9) “For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force…it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have authority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice.”
10) “Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God’s mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.”