John_ChrysostomAs I keep hearing the Letters of the Blessed Paul read, sometimes twice a week and often three or four times when we are celebrating the memory of the Holy Martyrs, I rejoice and enjoy hearing this spiritual trumpet, and my desire is inflamed.

I recognise this voice which is so dear to me and imagine him all but present to my sight and I see him conversing with me.

But I am sad that all people do not know this man as well as they ought. Some are so ignorant of him that they do not even know for certain how many letters he wrote!

And this comes not from inability, but from their not having the will to be continually conversing with this holy man.

It is not through any natural ability or sharpness of wit that even I am acquainted with as much as I do know, if I do know anything, but my knowledge comes from a constant use of his writings and a great love for the man.

For those who love know best what belongs to their beloved, as they have them constantly in their thoughts.

This is shown by the holy man himself to the Philippians, when he says: It is right for me to feel thus about you, because I hold you in my heart, in my imprisonment and in the defence and confirmation of the Gospel.

And so you too, if you are willing to apply yourselves to reading him with a ready mind, will need no other help. For the word of Christ is true: Seek and you shall find, knock and it will be opened to you.

For from ignorance of the Scriptures have the countless evils of our time arisen; from this ignorance the plague of heresies has broken out among us so violently; from this ignorance so many live negligent lives.

Just as men deprived of daylight would not walk straight, so those who do not look to the shining of the Holy Scriptures must needs be frequently sinning as they are walking in the worst of darkness.

So that this may not be the case with us, let us open our eyes to the bright shining of the Apostle’s words; for this man’s tongue shone forth above the sun, and he abounded more than all the rest in the word of doctrine.

[…] For such was this holy soul that he embraced the whole world and carried about all men within himself. And he loved them more than any father loves his children, it was as if he had begotten them all himself; for such is the grace of the Spirit that it exceeds the bonds of the flesh.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Introduction to the Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans; from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the First Week of Ordinary Time, Year I.