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Like the angels


A chorus of martyrs has happened upon us,

saintsangels[Hardly] seven days in number have passed since we celebrated the holy festival of Pentecost and again a chorus of martyrs has happened upon us, rather a battle-array and squadron of martyrs, which is in no way inferior to the host of angels which the patriarch Jacob saw (Gn 32:2), but readily comparable and equal to it.  Angels inhabit the heavens, but martyrs do too.  The former are ageless and immortal; this the martyrs will possess too….

The sky, decorated as it is with the chorus of stars, is not as brilliant as the bodies of the martyrs, decorated with their brilliant chorus of wounds.  As a result, because they died, through this above all they have the greater share and received their prizes crowned by death.  You have made it a little short in comparison to angels, but crowned it with glory and honor (Ps 8:6), says David of the nature shared by humankind.  Yet even this short span, Christ, when he was here, made up for by condemning death.... In consequence, let us not grieve because we are mortal, but give thanks because the stadium of martyrdom has been opened up to us by death.

Do you see God’s wisdom, how the greatest of evils, the ultimate disaster for us, which the devil introduced (I mean death), how this changed into our honor and glory, because it led the athletes towards the prizes of martyrdom?  The devil introduced it so that it would destroy, and so that, when he brought it down to earth, he might cut off all hope of salvation; but Christ took it and converted it and, through it, led us back up to heaven.... The martyrs went to meet their tortures with joy as if they were dancing, and as if they were in battle they displayed complete courage and strength and conquered their opposition.  If you look at the nature of what took place, what took place was a skirmish and war.  If you examine the spirit of what took place, what happened was dancing and festivities and festivals and utter joy.



chrysostom Saint John Chrysostom. "Like the angels." from the Cult of the Saints, St. Vladamir's Seminary Press, Crestwood, NY.: 2006)  

Published under a fair use provision. 

The Author

chrysostom1 chrysostom Saint John Chrysostom (golden-mouthed) on account of his eloquence (c. 349-407) was Archbishop of Constantinople and an important Early Church Father. In 374, he began to lead the life of an anchorite in the mountains near Antioch, but in 386 the poor state of his health forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a priest. In 398, he was elevated to the See of Constantinople and became one of the greatest lights of the Church. He is known for his preaching and public speaking, and for his denunciation of abuse of authority. Of his books in print are The Complete Works of Saint John Chrysostom, Saint John Chrysostom: Homilies on Genesis 1-17, and On Living Simply: The Golden Voice of John Chrysostom.  

Copyright © 2006 St. Vladimir's Seminary Press
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