Translation Tony Dickinson
A great teacher and churchman, liturgist, pastor and preacher, defender of the faith against heresies, enjoying a very wide veneration in various contexts and dying in the odour of sanctity, John Chrystostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, incarnates the popular face of the Church, at the link between the spiritual and the temporal. His priestly example and his impressive literary work were the principal factors in his ecumenical influence and the universal authority of a great master of the Church. His credentials as “river of gold”, “Chrystostom” (golden mouth), “walking living gospel” were identified with the description of the personality of the Church’s greatest preacher. The influence of his holiness is not limited to the Greek Church, but his reputation has made all of Christianity fertile across the ages. He is the preacher par excellence; he is the man who could speak of God, who could continue the Word, by his own word.
However, he led a life which was not simple, marked by comings and goings, a life in the end quite modern, conditioned by choices, which were sometimes difficult choices. When he became a priest in Antioch, he preached. When he preached he made from each particular situation an exemplar: to console a widow, what about marriage and chastity; to be a monk, to be concerned with the poor, to know the cure of souls. It is pastoral care incarnate, each time unique, each time universal. He preached the Word “in season and out of season” (2Tim 4:2); that was his charism; he preached for hours, filled the churches, denounced the scandal, the vices, the abuses and there, right in the midst of these criticisms, all of a sudden there pierces a mystical confidence. “One man is enough,” he was careful to say, “if he is inflamed by zeal, to reform a whole people”. This pastor was also a liturgist and, according to him there is no greater meditation for a Christian than the Eucharistic mystery. The truth of the gospel begins and ends in the truth of the Church. All his work earned him the characterisation as the Paradigm of the Pastor and he remains the most appealing father of the Church, one of the most captivating figures of Christianity.