This week brings us the feast of St John, Archbishop of Constantinople and Doctor of the Church (d 407). His eloquence earned him the nickname Chrysostomos, “Golden-Mouthed”. January 27 is the date his relics were translated to Rome by Crusaders in the 12th century. In 2004 St John Paul II gave most of them to the Orthodox, though I believe some remain in the Chapel of the Choir in St Peter’s Basilica.

Speaking of John’s eloquence, here are a few of his snazzy quotations.

Worried about your weight? “The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted; in order that you may learn that fasting is unprofitable” (Homilies on the Statues 3,8).

What about drinking wine? “Paul is not ashamed … in writing to Timothy, to bid him take refuge in the healing virtue of wine-drinking. Not that to drink wine is shameful. God forbid! For such precepts belong to heretics” (Homilies on the Statues 1,7).

Did Archbishop John really say that the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops? No. But he did say: “I speak not otherwise than it is, but as I find it in my own actual experience. I do not think there are many among bishops that will be saved” (In Acta Apostolorum 3, 5-6).

How are your contributions to your parish? “Do you not see how much others give to prostitutes? Give at any rate the half to Christ of what they give to prostitutes.” (In 2 Cor 19,3).

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