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For Sexagesima: John Chrysostom on the life of St. Paul

January 31, 2016

From Faith and Life – since this is Sexagesima Sunday – here is an excerpt from the writings of John Chrysostom on the life of St. Paul:

PAUL had a strength far greater than that of words, and able to accomplish far more. By his mere presence, without speaking, he was terrible to demons; and all the men of this age, if assembled in one place, could not do so much by infinite prayers and tears as Paul’s aprons did of old. And Paul by prayer raised the dead, and wrought other like wonders, so that he was even deemed a god by the Heathen; and before his removal from this life he was thought worthy to be caught up to the third heaven, and to hear words which it was not lawful for humanity to utter. If, laying aside his miracles, we come to his blessed life, and examine his angelical conduct, then in this rather than in wondrous deeds will you see Christ’s athlete triumphing. For why should one speak of his zeal, his forbearance, his ceaseless dangers, his continued anxieties, his uninterrupted sorrows for the Churches, his sympathy with the weak, his many afflictions, his everfresh persecutions, his daily deaths? For he endured every form of hostile plotting, and gained every kind of victory ; and never once did he cease to wrestle or to win crowns. And in what did this blessed one surpass even the other Apostles, and how comes his name to be frequent in men’s mouths throughout the civilized world? Is it not from the excellence of his Epistles, whereby he benefits, and will benefit, not only the faithful of that age, but those who have lived from his time to this day, and those too who are yet to live, even until Christ’s coming? For even like a wall of adamant, his letters fortify the Churches throughout the world; and like a noble prince of combatants he stands even now in the midst of us, “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God’.” And all this he does by those Epistles, so wonderful, so filled with Divine wisdom, which he has left to us. But his writings are not only useful to us in order to the overthrow of spurious doctrines and the establishment of genuine ones; they also furnish us with no small aid towards a good life. For by the employment of them, even at this day, the rulers of the Churches fashion, and mould, and bring to spiritual beauty, the “chaste virgin” whom he prepared for Christ. By these they repel the diseases which assail her, and preserve the health which she has gained.

–St. Chrysostom on the Priesthood, b. iv.

Let John Chrysostom be our role model in appreciating and learning from the writings of St. Paul!

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