Sunday, August 9, 2009

John Chrysostom: Holiness is the Way of Heavenly Life

The way of life in heaven is quite the opposite: it brings us great and lasting benefit without any expense. It is not inebriates, you see, but the choir of angels that applauds the one living there. Why mention the choir of angels? The Lord of the angels himself will commend and welcome them. The person commended by God is crowned and celebrated, not for one or two or three days, but for all eternity, and you would never see the head of such a person bereft of that glory; far from being confined to set days, the period of that festival last for the immortality of the future. Neediness could never be an obstacle to sacred ritual; on the contrary, it is possible even for the needy to celebrate this sacred ritual, and especially the needy in that they are freed of all this world's vanity, the requirement being not outlay of money and affluence but a pure and continent mind. From this it is that the dress for that way of life is woven for the soul and the wreath plaited, and so unless it were adorned with the works of virtue, no benefit would come to it from gold in abundance, just as no harm would ensue from poverty if it has its wealth stored within. Let not only the boys but also the girls celebrate this sacred ritual; it is not a case, after all, as in public life, of men alone being called upon to perform these services: this display involves also women, the elderly and the young, slaves and free. After all, where the soul is on show, neither sex nor age nor earthly station not anything else constitutes an obstacle.

- John Chrysostom (around A.D. 347 to around A.D. 407), Homilies on Hannah, Homily 3, in St. John Chrysostom, Old Testament Homilies, Volume 1, p. 106 (2003), Robert C. Hill translator.