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Our Home as a School of Holiness

Words of wisdom from St John Chrysostom on his Feastday

St. John Chrysostom was know for his emphasis on 'practical' Christianity in the lives of all believers.   Here is an excerpt from his Homily on Matthew 11...

And all these let us practise at home, with our own friends, with   our wife, with our children. And, for the present, let us begin with   the things that come first, and are easier; as for instance, with not   swearing; and let us practise this one letter continually at home. For,   in truth, there are many at home to hinder this our practice; sometimes   a man's servant provoking him, sometimes his wife annoying and angering   him, sometimes an indocile and disorderly child urges him on to   threatening and swearing. If now at home, when thus continually galled,   thou shouldest attain not to be tempted into swearing, thou wilt in the   market-place also have power with ease to abide unconquered.   

Yea, and in like sort, thou wilt attain to keep thyself from insulting   any, by not insulting thy wife, nor thy servants, nor any one else   among those in thy house. For a man's wife too not seldom, praising   this or that person, or bemoaning herself, stirs him up to speak evil   of that other. But do not thou let thyself be constrained to speak evil   of him that is praised, but bear it all nobly. And if thou shouldest   perceive thy servants praising other masters, be not perturbed, but   stand nobly. Let thy home be a sort of lists, a place of exercise for   virtue, that having trained thyself well there, thou mayest with entire   skill encounter all abroad.   

Do this with respect to vainglory also. For if thou train thyself not   to be vainglorious in company of thy wife and thy servants, thou wilt   not ever afterwards be easily caught by this passion with regard to any   one else. For though this malady be in every case grievous and   tyrannical, yet is it so especially when a woman is present. If we   therefore in that instance put down its power, we shall easily master   it in the other cases also.    And with respect to the other passions too, let us do this self-same   thing, exercising ourselves against them at home, and anointing   ourselves every day.   

And that our exercise may be easier, let us further enact a penalty for   ourselves, upon our transgressing any of our purposes. And let the very   penalty again be such as brings with it not loss, but reward,--such as   procures some very great gain. And this is so, if we sentence ourselves   to intenser fastings, and to sleeping often on the bare ground, and to   other like austerity. For in this way will much profit come unto us   from every quarter; we shall both live the sweet life of virtue here,   and we shall attain unto the good things to come and be perpetually   friends of God.   

But in order that the same may not happen again,--that ye may not,   having here admired what is said, go your way, and cast aside at   random, wherever it may chance, the tablet of your mind, and so allow   the devil to blot out these things;--let each one, on returning home,   call his own wife, and tell her these things, and take her to help him;   and from this day let him enter into that noble school of exercise,   using for oil the supply of the Spirit. And though thou fall once,   twice, many times in thy training, despair not, but stand again, and   wrestle; and do not give up until thou hast bound on thee the glorious   crown of triumph over the devil, and hast for the time to come stored   up the riches of virtue in an inviolable treasure-house.   

For if thou shouldest establish thyself in the habits of this noble   self-restraint, then, not even when remiss, wilt thou be able to   transgress any of the commandments, habit imitating the solidity of   nature. Yea, as to sleep is easy, and to eat, and to drink, and to   breathe, so also will the deeds of virtue be easy to us, and we shall   reap to ourselves that pure pleasure, resting in a harbor without a   wave, and enjoying continual calm, and with a great freight bringing   our vessel into haven, in that City, on that day; and we shall attain   unto the undecaying crowns, unto which may we all attain, by the grace   and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory and   might, now and always, and world without end. Amen.    

 

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