September 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 169

LITURGY for Wednesday and Thursday, September 13-14, 2000

Wednesday, September 13, 2000

      First Reading: 1 Corinthians 7: 25-31
      Psalms: Psalm 45: 11-17
      Gospel Reading: Luke 6: 20-26

Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

        One of the great Doctors of the Church in the 4th Century was Saint John Chyrsostom who was born into a Christian family in Antioch in 349. Shortly after his father died and his mother, a woman of great virtue, raised John in the faith. Baptized at the age of 18, John was tutored by the great Greek public orator of his day Libanius, but in 374 John gave it all up in search of a higher calling and retreated to the mountains to live the life of a hermit. Poor health forced him to return to Antioch where he was ordained a priest in 381. Utilizing all he had learned under the Greek master while incorporating the dogma of the true faith his fame soon spread and the faithful flocked to his Masses. This caught the attention of Pope Saint Siricus who appointed him to the influential bishopric as Patriarch of Constantinople. Throughout his life John was a fierce defender of the true faith against Arianism and received the name Chyrsostom which means "golden-mouthed" in Greek. Like fellow Saints Athanasius and Basil of his time, John was not only greatly cherished by the people, but also falsely accused by the Arians, in particular the Bishop of Alexandria who forced John's exile. John knew, like Basil, that the people would not stand for this and thus he called the Arian bishop's bluff by refusing to show up for the mock trial that whould condemn him. Regardless, the Arian bishops unanimously decided to exile him. However John refused, claiming they had no authority and the Arians appealed to the Roman Empress Eudoxia who was moved to side with the Arians after hearing one of St. John's sermons denouncing the pomp and luxury promulgated by the Roman rulers. It wasn't until 403 that John was allowed to return by the Emperor Arcadius. However that was short-lived for, always loyal to Christ, John objected vehemently to the unveiling of a statue of the Empress Eudoxia who had exiled him. He did not object because of the exile edict, but rather the pagan nature attributed to the statue. Once again exiled, he would not return until posthumously carried back by the Emperor's son Theodosius II thirty years after the saint's death. While John spent his last years in exile orchestrating the missionary efforts of Lebanon, Syria and Persia as well as helping in the conversion of the Goths, he continued his campaign to be reinstituted as the rightful Patriarch of Constantinople. He wrote the new pontiff Pope Saint Innocent I who had been elected the 40th Vicar of Christ on December 22, 401. Though Innocent was in favor as well as the Constantinople citizens who would accept no one else other than John as their bishop, the new Roman Emperor Theodosius was stronger and more influential. Thus he sent John even farther away. John lived a total of 63 years, dying on the feast of the Holy Cross on September 14, 407 while enroute to the village of Comana near the Black Sea to preach. He received his Heavenly reward with the words "Glory be to God for everything. Amen" on his lips. He was pronounced a Doctor of the Church by Pope Saint Leo the Great at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, 44 years after his death.

Thursday, September 14, 2000

      First Reading: Numbers 21: 4-9
      Psalms: Psalm 78: 1-2, 34-38
      Second Reading: Philippians 2: 6-11
      Gospel Reading: John 3: 13-17


        In the Latin Roman Rite this feast is celebrated on September 14th each year to celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on which Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, died. Historians record that the true cross was unearthed by the Empress Saint Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great in the year 326. With Constantine as emperor his mother had the funds and the visa so-to-speak to conduct an extensive expedition for the true cross for it was the sign of the cross in the sky that enabled her son to be victorious - "In hoc signo vinces." Though she was nearly 80 years old her mission was to uncover Christ's cross so that all the world could give it the reverence and veneration it deserved. On arriving in Jerusalem there was no visible sign of any evidence because the heathens had constructed pagan temples over anything Christian to show their disdain. This was the signal to Helena where to look and so she sought out where stones had been piled high, leading her to many discoveries including the sepulchre where Jesus was buried, finding the tools of torture as well after she had the pagan temples destroyed. In the process her expedition nearby uncovered three crosses with the nail holes still visible and, after more digging, discovered the crude rough iron nails that had pierced the hands and feet of our Savior, as well as the two thieves. Helena grappled with which of the three was the true cross and sought out the holy bishop Saint Macarius, who suggested to Helena that the three crosses be taken to a very influential lady who lay very ill in the city. His reasoning and faith was that God would reveal which was the true cross when it touched and healed the sick woman. Helena did just this as Macarius prayed for the miracle they sought. God answered their prayers when the third cross was placed near the woman after the first two had failed. Almost immediately the woman regained full health. Helena was so overcome with joy and gratitude that she ordered a church be built on the spot where she discovered the cross and placed the major portion of the cross in an elegant silver casing inside the church for protection, entrusting it to St. Macarius. Because this pine wood cross was shredding some, Helena took a healthy piece back with her back to Rome, placing it in another church she had delegated to be built there which was renamed Of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem or the Church of Santa Croce in Rome where it is still preserved today. Helena died peacefully in her son Constantine's arms on August 18, 326. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Macarius' successor, stated that pieces of the true cross were spreading throughout the world which later confirmed what St. Paulinus of Nola wrote: though pieces of the sacred wood were slivered off the main cross almost daily and given to the devout, the cross seemed never to diminish in size. Today these relics are indeed on every continent and we have personally seen many times crosses that contain a sliver of the true cross. As a relic the sliver of the cross is often carried beneath a covered canopy in procession. When it is presented for exposition it is customary to genuflect in veneration, and kissing the relic is a total indication of respect and veneration.

September 13, 2000
volume 11, no. 169

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