“Smite him on the face”

A while back I mentioned that I was starting to like St. John Chrysostom more and more.  Here is an excursion into creative patristiblogging with John of the Golden Mouth.

Here is an amusing little bit of a sermon in which the Bishop of Constantinople suggests.. well… read it yourself.  This is from Homilies on the Statues 1,7:

Paul is not ashamed, and does not blush, after the many and great signs which he had displayed even by a simple word; yet, 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 [Gotta love this guy];

Ibid. 1,8: But before I proceed to solve these questions, permit me to say something of the virtue of Timothy, and of the loving care of Paul. For what was ever more tender hearted than this man, who being so far distant, and encircled with so many cares, exercised so much consideration for the health of his disciple’s stomach, and wrote with exact attention about the correction of his disorder? And what could equal the virtue of Timothy? He so despised luxury, and derided the sumptuous table, as to fall into sickness from excessive austerity, and intense fasting. For that he was not naturally so infirm a person, but had overthrown the strength of his stomach by fasting and water drinking; you may hear Paul himself carefully making this plain. For he does not simply say, "use a little wine;" but having said before, "drink no longer water," he then brings forward his counsel as to the drinking of wine. And this expression "no longer" was a manifest proof, that till then he had drunk water, and on that account was become infirm[RIGHT!  After all, do you know what fish do in water??  Besides, Father needs to keep up his strength for his labors in the Lord’s vineyard.]

Ibid. 1,32: But since our discourse has now turned to the subject of blasphemy, I desire to ask one favor of you all, [Anything for you, Your Excellency…] in return for this my address, and speaking with you; which is, that you will correct on my behalf the blasphemers of this city  [i.e., blaspheming against God by saying that wine is evil.]. And should you hear any one in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so. Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify your hand with the blow, and if any should accuse you, and drag you to the place of justice, follow them thither; and when the judge on the bench calls you to account, say boldly that the man blasphemed the King of angels! For if it be necessary to punish those who blaspheme an earthly king, much more so those who insult God. It is a common crime, a public injury; and it is lawful for every one who is willing, to bring forward an accusation. Let the Jews and Greeks learn, that the Christians are the saviours of the city[HURRAY!  And let this extend to the liturgy too, "SAVE THE LITURGY, SAVE THE WORLD"] that they are its guardians, its patrons, and its teachers. Let the dissolute and the perverse also learn this; that they must fear the servants of God too; that if at any time they are inclined to utter such a thing, they may look round every way at each other, and tremble even at their own shadows, anxious lest perchance a Christian, having heard what they said, should spring upon them and sharply chastise them. 

So, effectively, St. John has said that a) priests shouldn’t fast too much less they not be able to carry our their duties (Ibid. 3,8: "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, except all other duties follow with it.") and then b) if people speak badly about wine, which is one of God’s great gifts, you should immediately bust him in the chops. 

CONCLUSIONS: If anyone tries to give you bad wine or, worse, no wine, or says anything bad about the wine you have (or don’t have) then punch him in the face right away!  Moreover, make sure that Father always has very good wine at hand, so that he can give greater glory to God and have the wherewithal to serve the flock properly. 

I am really starting to like John Chrysostom!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. CDB says:

    Cheers, Father. There is a reason for the saying “In vino veritas”.

  2. Leguleius Magnus says:

    Did the saint have any kind words for the Martini?

  3. Leguleius: I’m not sure Chrysostom would have liked Jesuits. o{]:¬)

  4. Adam says:

    My new hero.

  5. Leguleius Magnus says:

    Tres drole

  6. Marc in Eugene says:

    Le ressourcement, vraiment.

  7. Jeff says:

    Okay Father, you’re already equipped to say both the Novus Ordo and Tridentine liturgies. What’s next… the Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom?

  8. Romulus says:

    Concerning the Amount of Drink [from the Rule of St. Benedict]

    “Each one has his own gift from God, the one in this way, the other in that. Therefore it is with some hesitation that the amount of daily sustenance for others is fixed by us. Nevertheless, in view of the weakness of the infirm we believe that a hemina [just less than half a liter] of wine a day is enough for each one. Those moreover to whom God gives the ability of bearing abstinence shall know that they will have their own reward. But the prior shall judge if either the needs of the place, or labour or the heat of summer, requires more; considering in all things lest satiety or drunkenness creep in. Indeed we read that wine is not suitable for monks at all. But because, in our day, it is not possible to persuade the monks of this, let us agree at least as to the fact that we should not drink till we are sated, but sparingly. For wine can make even the wise to go astray. Where, moreover, the necessities of the place are such that the amount written above can not be found-but much less or nothing at all-those who live there shall bless God and shall not murmur.”

    Cheers, Father!

  9. Melody says:

    Does the same attitude also apply to coffee?

  10. Donald says:

    As an enologist, I get great satifaction out of this selection from St. John

  11. Denise says:

    As a friend of mine would say:

    Water? Rusts iron, rots wood. What’s it going to do your stomach?


  12. Stu says:

    He reminds me of some Navy chaplains I know.

  13. Andrew says:

    On the other hand, (it’s always good to show the other hand) before y’all get too excited here, we have Romans 14:21 “Bonum est non bibere vinum” (it’s good not to drink wine).

    I know, I know, saying this “in flammam mitto manum.” (I put my life on the line).

    Oh well! Why not? Let me say also this: “Te delibuta melle vina delectant: nos potamus aquam frigidam.” (Jerome) [You delight in spiced wines of all kind, we drink cold water].

  14. Fabrizio says:


    Wet-Blanket Award March 2007?


    “Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine,
    There’s always laughter and good red wine.
    At least I’ve always found it so.
    Benedicamus Domino!” – Hilaire Belloc

    “Osteeee!! Portece ‘n’antro litrooo,
    che noi
    se lo
    beve-e-emo, embè, embè, che che c’è?

    E quanno er vino, ‘mbe’,
    ciariva ar gozzo, ‘mbe’,
    ar gargarozzo, embe’,
    ce fa n’ficozzo, embe’.

    Pe’ falla cortaa, pe’ falla bbrevee,
    mio caro oste portece da bbeve,
    da bbeve,
    da bbeve, ole’!!

    (and don’t get me started with wine, Belli and Trilussa!)

  15. Eeeuu! Fabri! Stasera cche fai? Viè qua a bbe’ nu quartino!

    Mmbe… un quartino? Nun è un ppò poco?

    Er fiasco?

    Mmó ‘na bbotte?

    G. Belli

  16. Victor says:

    And I thought Carnival was over…

  17. He has a golden fist to match his golden mouth. Such gems are only more reason why St. John Chrysostom is, perhaps, one of the greatest saints the Church has ever produced. Who could ever forget his tirade against rotten bishops? Cheers to a great saint.

  18. Fabrizio says:


    I thought it unlikely for Andrew to miss the March 2007 Wet Blanket award at this point. Obviously I was wrong!


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