Our Syrian Father

St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine holding aloft the Chair of Peter in Roma
St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine holding aloft the Chair of Peter in Roma

St. Paul became a Christian in Syria. St. Peter exercised his authority in Syria before he traveled to Rome. The word “Christian” entered the vocabulary of the human race in Syria.

St. Luke? Syrian.

Know anybody named Damien, Dorothy, Felix, Iggy, Rufus, or Sergio? Then you know someone named after a Syrian saint.

SyriaAnd, 1,606 years ago tomorrow, another Syrian saint entered his eternal reward. The Holy Doctor whose relics and statue adorn St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and whose relics also receive devout visits at Christ our Savior Cathedral in Moscow.

St. John Chrysostom.

Here’s what he said on Easter Sunday morning, around the year AD 400:

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary with fasting?
Let them now receive their wages!

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Debt Relief

I remember using the Lubyanka Metro station in Moscow when I visited the Soviet Union in 1983.

It is the closest station to Red Square. May the poor people who died there on Monday rest in peace…

…Some people have debts that they will never be able to repay. Terrifying to contemplate: I owe more than I will ever be able to earn. I cannot provide for my family. We are in a hole we can’t get out of.

Entrance to Lubyanka Metro Station, Moscow

But there is something a hopeless debtor can do: Get a lawyer and go to a bankruptcy judge.

In the clear light of a thorough reckoning, everyone acknowledges that the debts are hopeless. The debtor agrees to a feasible payment plan. Life becomes much more austere–no luxuries, humiliating oversight–but at least the cloud of hopeless debt is gone.

This is us, people.

We owe God a debt we could never repay. How can we make up for even a single sin? He is perfect, loving–our gentle Father. To displease Him for an instant is more than we could make up for in a lifetime.

We are bankrupt before God. The human race needs debt relief.

Let’s go to the Judge. Let’s get on our knees before the altar and the mysteries of the Sacred Triduum. Let’s beg God for a feasible payment plan.

Christ will pay off all our debts and give us an austere, humble way to redeem the rest of our lives on earth.