Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 13 June 2020

St John Chrysostom on the fruits and benefits of the Eucharist

The second set of Breviary readings today in the Corpus Christi octave are from a homily of St John Chrysostom (d. 407) from his time as a preacher and lecturer in Antioch from 386-397. They are typically elegant and forceful from the “Golden Mouth”

St. John Chrysostom
A fifteenth century icon
Image: Counterlight’s Peculiars

From the Sermons of St. John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople:

61st Homily to the people of Antioch 
Dearly beloved brethren, it behoveth us to learn the miracle of the Mysteries what the Gift is, and why It was given, and what is the use thereof. "We, being many, are one body," saith [the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. x. 17, and again] "We are members of His Body, of His Flesh, and of His Bones." Eph. v. 30. Only the initiated will now understand what I say. That this union may take place, not by love only, but verily and indeed, we ought to mingle our own with His Flesh. And this is done by eating that Food Which He hath given unto us, being fain to manifest that exceeding great love which He beareth to us-ward. To this end He hath mingled Himself with us, and infused His Body into our bodies, that we may be one together, like as the limbs of a man and his head are all of one body. Such union do they long for that love much. 
When we come back from that Table we ought to be like so many lions breathing fire, dreadful to the devil. Our thoughts ought to be concentrated on our Great Head and the love which He showeth us. Many fathers and mothers there are who give their children to others to nurse, but I, saith the Lord to His children, I am not so, but I feed you with Mine Own Flesh, and join Myself to you, fain that ye all should be sons of noble blood now, and giving you a noble hope of that which ye shall be hereafter. I was content to become your Brother, I for your sakes have taken unto Me Flesh, and Blood, and that Flesh and Blood wherein I am become your Brother, the Same give I in turn unto you. 
Let us then, dearly beloved brethren, take good heed to ourselves, as unto the holders of so great mercies, and when any foul word springeth to our lips, or we feel anger taking possession of us, or the sting of any other sinful passion, let us call to mind of What we have been counted worthy, and let that remembrance still the unruly motion. As often as we take that Body, as often as we taste that Blood, let us think how that we feed on Him Who is sitting on high, adored of Angels, at the right hand of the Eternal Power. Ah me, how many a way is open to us whereby we may be saved He hath made us His He hath given His Body to us and we still are not turned away from evil.

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