Thursday, August 13, 2009

John Chrysostom: Early Church Nominalism

I say this to you so that you may speak to those people, overwhelm with these words, draw them away from every wicked habit and persuade them to do everything with the proper attitude. After all, you would not find commendable the zeal in people whose behavior is idle and reckless; I shall establish this from tomorrow's assembly. I mean, when holy Pentecost is celebrated by us, so big a crowd will hasten to attend that our whole place will be packed; but I do not place much importance on size: it comes from habit, not piety. What could be more wretched than those people, in fact, when their indifference involves them in such recriminations and their apparent zeal is devoid of commendation? In other words, the one who takes part in this divine assembly with fervor an desire should do so consistently, and not be amongst those showing up only on feastdays and in turn go off with them, simply driven like sheep.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Homilies on Hannah, Homily 4, in St. John Chrysostom, Old Testament Homilies, Volume 1, p. 111 (2003), Robert C. Hill translator.