Skip to comments.Benedict XVI’s Nearly Unnoticed Letter on St. John Chrysostom (Fr. Z)
Posted on 11/13/2007 8:36:47 AM PST by Pyro7480
On 8 November, the Holy See released a letter of Pope Benedict for the 1600th anniversary of the death of St. John Chrysostom, a doctor of the Church of great importance to both the West and the Eastern Churches.
The occasion of the letter was a conference being held at the Patristic Institute (and my school) the "Augustinianum".
This is a "Letter", not a "Message" or a "Discourse". It is not an "Apostolic Letter".
It is not too long, but it is one of the best written Letters I have seen for a while.
There was a CNS story on this letter, which so far has been placed on the Vatican web site only in Italian. Also, for reasons I cannot fathom, the Vatican website does not list it in Latest Updates....
So, as a service to you, WDTPRS provides the Letter in English translation, which you can download in Word format. Here below I will briefly explain the structure of the letter so that when you read it, you can see what Pope Benedict is really trying to say.
(Excerpt) Read more at wdtprs.com ...
Bookmark for later.
Perhaps because the Vatican Web site posted the letter on August 10, 2007? If one goes to the index page for letters written in 2007, ans scrolls down a bit, one can see:
Letter on the occasion of the 16th centenary of the
death of Saint John Chrysostom (August 10, 2007)
I guess that would do it. Still, it’s interesting that there isn’t an English translation up on the Vatican site yet.
Yes, but I wouldn’t read too much into it since there are no other translations up yet, either.
This part is particularly fine:
“St Johns faith in the mystery of the love that binds believers to Christ and to one another led him to express a profound reverence for the Eucharist, a reverence that he fostered in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, as is demonstrated by the fact that one of the richest expressions of eastern liturgy bears his name to this day. St John understood that the Divine Liturgy situated the believer spiritually between his life on earth and the heavenly reality which was promised to him by the Lord. He expressed his awe at celebrating these sacred mysteries to St Basil the Great in these words: For when you see the Lord sacrificed, and laid upon the altar, and the priest standing and praying over the victim, ... can you then think that you are still among men, standing upon the earth? Are you not, on the contrary, straightway transported to heaven ...? These sacred rites, says St John, are not only marvelous to behold, but transcendent in awe. There stands the priest ... bringing down the Holy Spirit, and he prays at length ... that grace descending on the sacrifice may thereby enlighten the minds of all and render them more resplendent than silver purified by fire. Who can despise this most awesome mystery?i St John urged this same sense of reverence before the eucharistic mystery on those who heard his preaching: Reverence now this table from which we all are partakers, Christ, who was slain for us, the victim that is placed thereon.ii John spoke movingly of the sacramental effects of Holy Communion upon believers. Christs blood causes the image of our King to be fresh within us, produces unspeakable beauty, and does not permit the nobleness of our souls to waste away, but waters it continually, and nourishes it.iii For this reason, St John, echoing the Holy Scriptures, insistently and frequently exhorted the faithful to approach the altar of the Lord worthily, not lightly and ... out of custom and form, but with sincerity and purity of soul.iv He insisted that interior preparation for Holy Communion should include repentance for ones sins and gratitude for Christs sacrifice on behalf of our salvation. He thus urged the lay faithful to participate fully and devoutly in the rites of the Divine Liturgy and, with this same disposition, to receive Holy Communion. Let us not, I beg you, slay ourselves by our irreverence, but with awe and purity draw near to it; and when you see it set before you, say to yourself: «Because of this Body am I no longer earth and ashes, no longer a prisoner, but free: because of this I hope for heaven, and to receive the good things therein, immortal life, the portion of angels, to converse with Christ».v
St John reminded his hearers that their communion with the body and blood of Christ obliges them to provide material assistance for the poor and hungry in their midst.i The Lords table is the place where believers recognize the poor and needy, whom they may not have previously known.ii St John urged the faithful to look beyond the altar on which the eucharistic sacrifice was offered and to see in it Christ in the person of the poor. By helping the poor they make a sacrifice on the altar of Christ that is acceptable to God”
I recommend clicking Pyro’s link and reading the whole letter!
In the Byzantine (Ukranian/Ruthenian) rites of the Catholic Church, we chant the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom every Sunday. "Divine" doesn't begin to describe it. Even in the mouths of unprofessional, people-in-the-pew singers, the beauty and majesty of those magnificent words and phrases overcomes one. Every week, imagine!
“Every week, imagine!”
Don’t need to imagine. We chant it every week... in Greek too! :) My name day is his feast day.
Almighty God, who hast given us grace with one accord to make our common supplication unto thee, and dost promise that were two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests, fulfill now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants as may be most expedient for them, granting them in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come, live everlasting, Amen.
Source: Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church (antecedent to the United Church of Christ) 1941
The prayer you quote looks familiar. It may be from the third antiphone of the Divine Liturgy of +Basil the Great, the predecessor to the Divine Liturgy of +John Chrysostomos:
“O Thou who hast bestowed on us these common and accordant prayers, and dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in Thy name, Thou wilt grant their requests, fulfill even now the requests of thy servants as is expedient for them, granting us in this present age the knowledge of Thy truth, and in that to come, life eternal.”
Its sad the Fathers are so unknown among Protestants and that many in the Roman Church, and in Orthodoxy for that matter, don’t appreciate the great treasure we have in the writings and lives of The Fathers.
Benedict XVI is certainly doing his part to change that. As you are well aware, he has been teaching about the Early Church Fathers and their writings in his weekly audiences. He has a way of bringing them alive. I have learned much from his catecheses and they have only barely scratched the surface.
“As you are well aware, he has been teaching about the Early Church Fathers and their writings in his weekly audiences.”
Last summer I was speaking with some family members who used to teach theology at a prominent Roman Catholic university, now retired, and another who is a big deal (and rightfully so) Jesuit theologian. None of them had even heard of the weekly patristics lectures +BXVI has been giving. So much for what the USCCB wants people to know about. If it wasn’t for you and a few other Freepers, none of us here would know about this marvelous series!
O Lord, my God, I am not worthy that you should come into my soul, but I am glad that you have come to me because in your loving kindness you desire to dwell in me. You ask me to open the door of my soul, which you alone have created, so that you may enter into it with your loving kindness and dispel the darkness of my mind. I believe that you will do this for you did not turn away Mary Magdalene when she approached you in tears. Neither did you withhold forgiveness from the tax collector who repented of his sins or from teh good thief who asked to be received into your kingdom. Indeed, you numbered as your friends all who came to you with repentant hearts. O God, you alone are blessed always, now, and forever.
Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop, Orator, Doctor
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