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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Office Hymn for S John Chrysostom

This is more of a martyrology in verse, fromthe late Aelred-Seton Shanley, Obl. OSB Cam., of the Hermitage of the Dayspring:

Saint John, known as 'Golden-mouthed'
was born in cultured Antioch.
While young, his general father died:
his Christian mother brought him up.

A brilliant student of the law,
schooled by the famous Libanus:
at eighteen, baptised into Christ,
he served as Lector for the Mass.

Drawn to the solitary life
he found a hidden cave for prayer.
the Gospels, then he memorised:
two years, a hermit, living there.

But church and people drew him back
to be a priest among his peers:
his preaching, touched the hardest heart
and often met with shouts and cheers.

He challenged both the status-quo
- the Empire's gross inequity -
while delving deep into the soul
to show one's great complicity.

Twelve years he preached in Antioch,
decrying all who would oppress:
- insisting that the Liturgy
demanded justice be addressed.

then, unexpectedly, he found
he had been named the Patriarch
of great Constantinople's See:
- his leaving grieved all Antioch.

His simple life,.his charity,
impressed the great metropolis:
but when he criticised the rich
the Empress wanted him dismissed.

With Alexandria's Patriarch,
she then connived and laid a plot.
the inf'mous Synod of the Oak,
condemned him, causing riots to start.

Baptismal waters ran with blood
when soldiers fought on Easter night -
forced from his church, he had to use
the city's baths to lead the rite.

Condemned to far Armenia
- the victim of the Empress' hate -
the Pope declared that those involved
would now be excommunicate.

In exile from the Church he loved,
he died, while forced to march, and shunned:
another thirty years would pass
before true justice would be done.

A great procession formed that day
to bring their bishop=father home:
the Emp'ror, prostrate, with wife,
did penance for his parent's wrong.

"To God be glory in all things."
these were John's final words on earth:
rejected and despised like Christ,
he lives, like him, in spite of death.

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