On the Priesthood: Saint John Chrysostom (Part III)


My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


By Saint John Chrysostomos

Saint John's Theology of Priesthood

Saint John Chrysostom's six books on the Priesthood shows the influence of Saint Gregory's "Fight to Pontus", and, therefore, we see developing the great tradition in pastoral theology that nearly two hundred years later would extend into the West through Saint Gregory the Great. Saint John Chrysostom wrote his treatise On the Priesthood. He wrote this work between 390 A.D. and 391 A.D. to defend himself from accusations that in his youth he had belittled the Office of the Priest by hiding from those who would ordain him. Saint John Chrysostom replies that he escaped ordination precisely because he had such high regard for the Office and did not believe he was worthy of it. The mystical nature of the Priestly Office, in Saint John's mind, involved a mystical bond between the priest and the faithful, reflecting the "mystery" of Christ's union with the Church as the Husband with His bride (the Church) (Ephesians 5:32).

In his work on the Priesthood, Saint John Chrysostom speaks admirably of the priest as the liturgical officiant, but his principal concern is with the Priestly Ministry more generally, following the Divine example of Jesus Christ, Who came to serve rather than be served. As he says, while the Priesthood is ranked among the heavenly ordinances, it is nevertheless is enacted on earth. And the tasks of the priest are numerous: he was the teacher and moral guide of the community; he was the liturgical leader, deciding which catechumens should be admitted to baptism, and he presided at the Divine Eucharist; he was the spiritual guide for those who wanted to lead more ascetic lives; he received visitors from other churches; he maintained an elaborate system of philanthropy for the care of strangers, the support of widows, orphans and the poor, he cared for the women who were ranked in the order of "virgins", ordained presbyters and deacons.

Through the Incarnation of the Son of God, a New Covenant between the Creator God and the creature (man) is bound. In it, the new priesthood is established, which is essentially the person bound by the God-man Who brought the heavens and the Divine world of grace close to the earth of one essence with the Father, the Eternal High Priest, brought about by His Sacrifice, the redemption of the world. His Priestly Ministry continues through His Mystical Body, the Church and spread to the whole created world.  His unsurpassable unique victim initiated the very nature of communication between God and man, which are connected to heaven and earth.


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George