Today is a great day in the calendar of the Church as well as in my personal calendar. Most personally, today we celebrate my sister’s birthday, just as we celebrated my sister-in-law’s birthday. They are both outstanding, and are hands-down two of my favorite women in the entire world. They are both well-worth celebrating, and you would be wise to join in.
If you do not think that you will be able to join that celebration, however, then join me in celebrating the feast day of one of my four favorite saints: St. John Chrysostom. St. John was one of those few characters in the history of the church who brought no scandal on himself or on the church. He undoubtedly continued to sin throughout his life as we all do, but he was an excellent example of a servant of God. Being an amazingly gifted speaker, he earned the nickname Chrysostom which means “golden-mouthed.” He had studied for law but decided to instead use his gift for the building up of the church. He was made Patriarch of Constantinople against his will, gained fame throughout Christendom for his gift and yet remained humbly devoted to the glory of God. He was twice banished from Constantinople, the first time on trumped-up and untrue charges of treason. After much protest by the people who loved him, he was restored to his post. He would later be exiled permanently for a sermon in which he commented on the excesses of a statue of the Empress, which had been greatly distorted and inflated by the time it reached her ears. While exiled, St. John kept up correspondence through letters with his church, continuing to love and care for it. He would finally be martyred by being forcibly marched through the mountains until he died of exhaustion. He is today remembered as one of the four great Doctors of the Church.
St. John Chrysostom is well worth looking to as a model for Christian discipleship and I encourage you to celebrate his feast day today. Let us give thanks to God for providing the Church with such a gifted and humble servant. You should also check out this site, which provides a more comprehensive story of his life and access to some of his outstanding sermons.