September 13 – Church of the Resurrection; John Chrysostom

The Church of the Resurrection was consecrated on this day in 335. After Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, many holy places commemorated by Christians and Jews—the Temple, the Holy Sepulcher, the 7–11 where Ezekiel once bought a Slurpee—were destroyed, paved over, and/or replaced with pagan shrines, temples, etc.

When Constantine edictified toleration, his mum, Helen, bopped down to Palestine to destroy pagan temples and build churches. (Sadly all the icons of Helen posing with a shovel at groundbreakings (if any) were destroyed by the iconoclasts). Once she found the True Cross™ (Mar 6), she ordered the Church of the Resurrection built on the spot. This took ten years, and sadly she had to go back to Constantinople and die before it was done, but everybody else who was anybody else came, including hierarchs from all but one of Bythnia, Thrace, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Palestine, Egypt, and Minneapolis. A holy time was had by all, and everyone went away edified, except the ones who stayed behind edified.

John Chrysostom (ca. 347–407) was raised by his widowed yet pious mother, studied philosophy and other such nonsense, and was baptized by (St.) Meletius of Antioch. He became a reader, then a monk (“That’s true philosophy, that is,” he said), then a runaway when he heard his name suggested for the episcopacy. After a stint in the desert (during which his health got unhealthy), he returned to Antioch, was deaconified, and, five years later, priestified. All this time he kept himself busy writing books and books and also books of exegesis, apologetics, and theology. Once he got his priest badge, he started preaching magnificent sermons unlocking the Scriptures for all to understand. Not one to do anything halfway, John started preaching on Genesis 1 at the beginning of Lent in 388, and plugged his way through the entire book, finishing up in October. Then he gave the same treatment to the Gospels, the Letters of Paul, and the Psalms. (All the while writing more books.)

Seeing that what he did best was preach, the holy Synod of Constantinople had him dragged to the capital city and installed as Patriarch, where he had to do lots of other stuff and couldn’t preach nearly so often. He lived frugally, giving most of his stipend to hospices, hostels, etc. He sent out lots of missionaries, established bishoprics in places that were as-yet unbishopriciated, and in general promoted the Christian faith throughout the region.

He also preached out against moral laxity, greed, and vanity—especially in the clergy, the rich, and the royals, and especially especially in Empress Eudoxia, who apparently lacked various virtues. When he condemned some hierarchs, a council was called, and it voted that he first be deposed, and then killed. The emperor commuted the death sentence, and when a riot and an earthquake broke out, Eudoxia commuted the exile. This lasted until the next time he made her mad, whereupon he was once again given a subway ticket out of town. The Church of Hagia Sophia and the Senate building immediately burned to the ground, and shortly thereafter barbarians incursed. But Eudoxia died before she could recall him, and he died before anybody else could.

In the East John is one of the Three Great and Holy Hierarchs and Ecumenical Teachers (with Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzus); in the West is he is a Doctor of the Church and is called the “greatest of the Greek Fathers.” His moniker “Chrysostom” means “golden-mouthed,” referring to his many capped teeth—sorry—his many wonderful sermons. He is the patron saint of Constantinople (called Istanbul by some in these dark and sinful days); of preachers, speakers, and lecturers; and of epileptics.