Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “Well prepared married couples close the door to divorce”: this urges the necessity of a Christian formation from early childhood. It is also the “most current” lesson of “the authentic presence of Christian lay faithful in families and in society” which comes from St John Chrysostom and which Benedict XVI indicated to the 20 thousand people present at the general audience.
The figure of the great IV century bishop, St John of Antioch, also known as Chrysostom, mouth of gold, for his rhetoric capacity which makes him the “greates orator of all times” also gave the Pope food for an aside, when tracing the life of the saint he recalled the Antioch Sedition of 387, “when the people tore down the imperial statues to protest rising taxes”. “We can see that some things never change over the course of time”.
Born in 349 in Antioch, modern day Southern Turkey, St John Chrysostom – the first phase of whose life the Pope discussed today – became the Bishop of Constantinople after a period spent as a hermit. He was exiled twice in 403 and 407. He was among the most prolific fathers of the Church, counting over 700 homilies, 241 letters and many other writings, thus “we can say he is still alive today through his many works”.
His was a pastoral theology, based on preaching “which aims to develop the intellect of the faithful to understand and live the faith”, in so far as “the value of a man lies in his consciousness of the truth and rectitude of life”, “the conscience must be translated into life”.
In this logic of understanding and translating into practise the moral and spiritual exigencies of the faith to arrive at an integral development of the person, the great orator underlined the importance of Christian education from early childhood, a phase in which the consciousness of good and evil is introduced. This is why “God’s laws must be impressed as if on a wax tablet”. The formation must follow on in adolescence and marriage. In the family, which St John Chrysostom defined “the small domestic Church”, “well prepared married couplet close the door to divorce”.
And from the family it follows on that each one of us “is in some way responsible for the salvation of the other, this is the principal of our social life: not being only self-interested”.