ST. PETER CHRYSOLOGUS,
Bishop and Doctor of the Church.
Chrysologus means: the one who speaks very well.
This saint has been one of the most famous speakers in the Catholic Church. He was born in Imola (Italy) and was formed by Cornelius, bishop of that city, for whom he always kept a great veneration. This holy prelate convinced him that true greatness resides in the mastery of one’s own passions and in rejecting evil desires, and that this is a sure means of obtaining God’s blessings.
Peter enjoyed the friendship of the Emperor Valentinian and his mother, Placida, and on the recommendation of both of them, he was appointed Archbishop of Ravenna (the city where the emperor lived). He also enjoyed the friendship of Pope Saint Leo the Great.
When he became archbishop of Ravenna, there was a large number of pagans in this city. And he worked with such enthusiasm to convert them, that when he died there were very few pagans or non-believers in this capital.
People liked his sermons very much (and that is why they gave him the nickname of chrysologus, that is: he who speaks very well). His way of speaking was concise, simple and practical. He knew how to explain very clearly the main truths of the faith. At times he became so enthusiastic while preaching that the same emotion prevented him from continuing to speak, and the public was infected with his enthusiasm and many began to cry. In the two hottest months of the summer, he stopped preaching and explained jokingly to his listeners the reason for this determination: “In this time of so much heat I do not preach to you, because you exert much effort to listen to me and with these high temperatures, difficulty in breathing and fainting occur, and then they blame it all on my sermons.” People admired that in fairly short preaching, he was able to summarize the most important doctrines of the faith. A total of 176 sermons are preserved from him, very well prepared and carefully written. Because of his great wisdom in preaching and writing, he was named Doctor of the Church, by Pope Benedict XIII.
He highly recommended frequent communion and exhorted his listeners to make the Holy Eucharist their weekly food.
He died on July 30, 451.
May our good God grant us that many preachers and catechists of our time also deserve the name of Chrysologus: those who speak very well.
Happy are those who hear the word of God and put it into practice. (Lk 8: 21)
The sacrament of Christ’s incarnation
A sermon of St. Peter Chrysologus.
A virgin conceived, bore a son, and yet remained a virgin. This is no common occurrence, but a sign; no reason here, but God’s power, for he is the cause, and not nature. It is a special event, not shared by others; it is divine, not human. Christ’s birth was not necessity, but an expression of omnipotence, a sacrament of piety for the redemption of men. He who made man without generation from pure clay made man again and was born from a pure body. The hand that assumed clay to make our flesh deigned to assume a body for our salvation. That the Creator is in his creature and God is in the flesh brings dignity to man without dishonour to him who made him.
Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonour when you are honoured by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made? Was not this entire visible universe made for your dwelling? It was for you that the light dispelled the overshadowing gloom; for your sake was the night regulated and the day measured, and for you were the heavens embellished with the varying brilliance of the sun, the moon and the stars. The earth was adorned with flowers, groves and fruit; and the constant marvellous variety of lovely living things was created in the air, the fields, and the seas for you, lest sad solitude destroy the joy of God’s new creation. And the Creator still works to devise things that can add to your glory. He has made you in his image that you might in your person make the invisible Creator present on earth; he has made you his legate, so that the vast empire of the world might have the Lord’s representative. Then in his mercy God assumed what he made in you; he wanted now to be truly manifest in man, just as he had wished to be revealed in man as in an image. Now he would be in reality what he had submitted to be in symbol.
And so Christ is born that by his birth he might restore our nature. He became a child, was fed, and grew that he might inaugurate the one perfect age to remain for ever as he had created it. He supports man that man might no longer fall. And the creature he had formed of earth he now makes heavenly; and what he had endowed with a human soul he now vivifies to become a heavenly spirit. In this way he fully raised man to God, and left in him neither sin, nor death, nor travail, nor pain, nor anything earthly, with the grace of our Lord Christ Jesus, who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, for all the ages of eternity. Amen.
O God, who made the Bishop Saint Peter Chrysologus an outstanding preacher of your Incarnate Word, grant, through his intercession., that we may constantly ponder in our hearts the mysteries of your salvation and faithfully express them in what we do. Through our Lord.
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