As we bemoan the apparent disintegration of the moral fiber and structure of this once great nation, we most recognize our own significant contributions to this tragic outcome – remaining silent in the face of evil, reluctance and fear to teach and defend the Truth, misguided tolerance of conduct offensive to God (such as not valuing the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death) and the poor example of cowardly and Faithless lives.
Having said this, we must not wallow in embarrassment and self-pity over our failures.
Yes, our fear, cowardice and silence helped to create the current culture of death, materialism, paganism and relativism. But we have the promise of our loving and merciful Lord, as St. John Chrysostom assures us, that our culture can be turned around if, from this point forward, we would live our lives of Faith as God intended – consistently, courageously lovingly, and publicly – knowing that for a time, we will be persecuted for doing so:
‘Christ has put us on earth to act as beacons that give light, as doctors who teach, so that we might fulfill our duty as leaven…It would certainly not be necessary to preach doctrine if your lives were so radiant, or would it be necessary to have recourse to words if your works gave testimony. There would not be a single pagan if we conducted ourselves like true Christians’ – (St. John Chrysostom)
St. John, named Chrysostom (golden-mouthed) on account of his eloquence, came into the world of Christian parents, about the year 344, in the city of Antioch. His mother, at the age of 20, was a model of virtue. He studied rhetoric under Libanius, a pagan, the most famous orator of the age.
In 374, he began to lead the life of an anchorite in the mountains near Antioch, but in 386 the poor state of his health forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a priest.
In 398, he was elevated to the See of Constantinople and became one of the greatest lights of the Church. But he had enemies in high places and some were ecclesiastics, not the least being Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who repented of this before he died. His most powerful enemy, however, was the empress Eudoxia, who was offended by the apostolic freedom of his discourses. Several accusations were brought against him in a pseudo-council, and he was sent into exile.
In the midst of his sufferings, like the apostle, St. Paul, whom he so greatly admired, he found the greatest peace and happiness. He had the consolation of knowing that the Pope remained his friend and did for him what lay in his power. His enemies were not satisfied with the sufferings he had already endured, and they banished him still further, to Pythius, at the very extremity of the Empire. He died on his way there on September 14, 407.
Feastday: September 13