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John Golden Mouth

Claudia Miclaus

John Golden Mouth remains a chief figure in priesthood because of his preachings as well as life conduct. Read more about his message given here.
One of the greatest preachers of early Christianity was given the name of St. John Chrysostomos - "Golden mouth" (in Greek). Here is his perspective on the act of preaching: "Preaching improves me. When I begin to speak, weariness disappears; when I begin to teach, fatigue too disappears."
By this, we can clearly assume that to John Golden Mouth preaching was a God-given gift. John grew up in Antioch, which was a significant study center in the ancient world. His mother Anthusa was a devout Christian widow.
He had Libanius as a tutor, a famous rhetorician of pagan beliefs who also had been a professor in both Constantinople and Athens. Following his education, John went to the monastery. But because his ascetic practices were so severe, they did damage his health, and so he had to return to public life, and finally became a priest in Antioch.
Chrysostom's preaching began being noticed first in Antioch. This happened especially after the so-called "Affair of the Statues." Thus, in spring 388, there was a rebellion in Antioch due to the news on increasing taxes. During this riot, there were desecration's of the emperor and his family's statues.
City leaders were therefore punished, some even killed by imperial officials. Also, Archbishop Flavian went to Constantinople, the capital of the country at that time, to plead for mercy against these cruel measures.
While Flavian was away, John began to preach to the frightened citizens things like: "Improve yourselves now truly, not as when during one of the numerous earthquakes or in famine or drought or in similar visitations you leave off your sinning for three or four days and then begin the old life again."
St. John Golden Mouth's good reputation was gained some weeks later, when Flavian came back to the city with good news from the emperor. Although he used all the books in the Bible in order to preach, he still had his favorite ones. He used to say "I like all the saints, but St. Paul the most of all - that vessel of election, the trumpet of heaven."
His sermons showed him as being completely against prostitution, gluttony, abortion, swearing and the theater. The fact that he included theater amongst the most frequent public sins is clearly expressed in one of his sermons, when he said:
"Long after the theater is closed and everyone is gone away, those images [of "shameful women" actresses] still float before your soul, their words, their conduct, their glances, their walk, their positions, their excitation, their unchaste limbs."
And there within you she kindles the Babylonian furnace in which the peace of your home, the purity of your heart, the happiness of your marriage will be burnt up!" In this respect, if he lived today, he would most certainly disapprove of the movie industry and their often wrong and harmful messages towards the children and the youth.
In the first part of the year 398, he was captured by soldiers and taken to Constantinople, where he was consecrated archbishop against his will. Apparently, this was planned by a government official who intended to bring the best Christian orator in the capital city's church. Eventually, John took it as a providence of God and accepted this position.
Although his audience was now more prestigious, he did not make his sermons any softer, but rather continued the themes he had taken in Antioch. His words were against abuse of power and deception over the simple people. He went on leading an ascetic life, building hospitals and using his budget to look after the poor and the needy.
Because he got transported across Asia Minor fields in hot summer, John's health began to damage again. His loyal followers often visited him, whereas to others he would write encouraging messages such as:
"When you see the church scattered, suffering the most terrible trials, her most illustrious members persecuted and flogged, her leader carried away into exile, don't only consider these events, but also the things that have resulted: the rewards, the recompense, the awards for the athlete who wins in the games and the prizes won in the contest."
He departed from life on the Black Sea's eastern shore, somewhere at the empire's edges.