Monday, August 31, 2009

A timely quote from St. John Chrysostom

H/T: Paradosis

Update (2012): The attribution of this quote by St. John Chrysostom has been called into question.


St. John Chrysostom on the poor from On Living Simply XLIII.


Should we look to kings and princes to put right the inequalities between rich and poor? Should we require soldiers to come and seize the rich person's gold and distribute it among his destitute neighbors? Should we beg the emperor to impose a tax on the rich so great that it reduces them to the level of the poor and then to share the proceeds of that tax among everyone? Equality imposed by force would achieve nothing, and do much harm. Those who combined both cruel hearts and sharp minds would soon find ways of making themselves rich again. Worse still, the rich whose gold was taken away would feel bitter and resentful; while the poor who received the gold form the hands of soldiers would feel no gratitude, because no generosity would have prompted the gift. Far from bringing moral benefit to society, it would actually do moral harm. Material justice cannot be accomplished by compulsion, a change of heart will not follow. The only way to achieve true justice is to change people's hearts first - and then they will joyfully share their wealth.

-St. John Chrysostom

15 comments:

  1. Good word. "In the life of society, liberty and equality are mutually exclusive, even hostile concepts. Liberty, by its very nature, undermines social equality, and equality suppresses liberty--for how else could it be attained?" Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, A Reflection on the Vendee Uprising

    I thought this was the 12th Sunday after Pentecost.

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  2. It is indeed. Sourced a rather error-prone file for the festal calendar. Did some quick editing to fix this and future similar events for the year.

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  3. The only problem is these words do not belong to St. John Chrysostom.

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    1. Yes, yes. I'm aware of the recent discussion (largely in Facebook and on Mystagogy). In my defense I posted this 3 years ago.

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  4. Fair enough ... but the correction does need to be made. It's a shame much more of Chrysostom's genuine work is not readily available, so that people are familiar with it. While not expressing these sentiments - it still speaks to the modern world.

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  5. Even if he did not say it, it is still very true.

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  6. Thank you for posting this, even if St. John Chrysostom didn't say it. Do you know who did say it? I didn't see the Facebook conversation.

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  7. Here's a rundown of my attempt to find the source: http://leitourgeia.com/2011/11/19/facebook-and-digital-bumper-stickers/

    Richard

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  8. http://frjosiah.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/st-john-chrysostom-on-the-difference-between-charity-and-government-welfare/

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  9. Lordy, this thing keeps popping up again and again, no matter how often it's proven spurious.....

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    1. Indeed. I at least posted it almost four years before its provenance was questioned.

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    2. Maybe you should link at the top to the discussions on Leitougia and on Sandoupolis' blog.... In any event, "On Living Simply" isn't even the title of a work by Chrysostom....

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    3. They posted it in this thread. I'm amazed anyone is reading a post I put up so long ago.

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    4. The appeal is that it tells a certain group of people exactly what they want to hear, which is probably why the quote was fabricated and why it will continue to pop up...

      In any event, most people don't read comment threads. I found this post because it was re-posted on a priest's blog this morning, without any scruple about its authenticity. http://fatherjohn.blogspot.com/2012/11/from-byzantine-texas-st.html

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