Friday, September 13, 2013

It's not a name?

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. John Chrysostom. Chysostom is not his family name nor is it the name of the place he comes from, it is an honorific. Literally it means "golden mouth." He was so renowned for his preaching ability that the title simply became the way the church used to distinguish his from all of the other Sts. John.

What may seem a little curious is his path to this title. At age 30 he went away to the mountains and spent six years perfecting his ability to live in silence. It was only after the long silence that he was able to come back and to the city and preach with such eloquence.

While none of us may be able to spend six years in silence. Perhaps there are a couple of lessons that would be useful for us.

First, we all as human beings need silence, the mental sabbath. Often even in our prayer we are busy talking. We need a time of meditation. We should remember, however, that meditation in the Christian sense, is not emptying the mind, but giving God our undivided attention.

Secondly, in a world of constant information, St. John reminds us of the need to be quiet, and think before we speak. We may at the end of the day discover that we have said much less, and that can be a very good thing.