Today we celebrate one of the early Doctors of the Church, Saint Peter Chrysologus, known as the Doctor of Homilies. Born in Italy in 406, he was an adult convert to Catholicism. He fought paganism and the Monophysite heresy, which denied the humanity of Christ, saying He was solely divine.
A powerful preacher, he was called “Chrysologus”, meaning “golden word.” Of his sermons, 176 have survived – quite a number considering their age.. His teachings on the Incarnation, the Creed, and Our Lady’s role and that of St. John the Baptist in God’s plan for our salvation prompted Pope Benedict XIII to proclaim him a Doctor of the Church.
Being that so many of his writings remain, I thought it might benefit us to ponder some of his “golden words.” Below are excerpts from his some of his sermons. (The first one is particularly pithy):
* Anyone who wishes to frolic with the devil cannot rejoice with Christ.
* The devil does not wish to possess a man, but to destroy him. Why? Because he does not wish, he does not dare, he does not allow the man to arrive at the Heaven from which the devil fell. Jealousy, envy, pride and anger, to name only a few capital sins, rage in Lucifer, the prince of devils.
* We exhort you in every respect, honorable brother, to heed obediently what has been written by the Most Blessed Pope of the City of Rome; for Blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, provides the truth of faith to those who seek it.
* He is The Bread sown in the virgin, leavened in the Flesh, molded in His Passion, baked in the furnace of the Sepulchre, placed in the Churches, and set upon the Altars, which daily supplies Heavenly Food to the faithful.
* There are three things, my brethren, which causes faith to stand firm, devotion to remain constant and virtue to endure. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains and mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting are one. They give life to each other.
* Prayer, mercy and fasting: These three are one, and they give life to each other. Fasting is the soul of prayer; mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give.
* Offer your soul to God, make him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give him yourself you are never without the means of giving.
* Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.
St. Peter Chrysologus, Pray for us! Anne