St. John Chrysostom on Disciplined Perseverance

We must thoroughly quench the darts of the devil and beat them off by continual reading of the divine Scriptures. For it is not possible, not possible for anyone, to be saved without continually taking advantage of spiritual reading. Actually, we must be content, if even with continual use of this therapy, we are barely able to be saved. But when we are struck every day, if we do not use any medical care, what hope do we have of salvation?


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2 responses to “St. John Chrysostom on Disciplined Perseverance”

  1. Mike says :

    I think this quote has a lot of layers to it beyond the surface meaning. I don’t think St John meant that only people who undertake independent, rigorous scriptural reading will be saved. After all, in his time most people would not be able to read at all, let alone have the time to devote to reading. To say that only people who independently study scripture are saved is to restrict salvation to the rich elite, who had both the education and time to study. That seems contrary to almost everything we see Jesus say about salvation.

    What then could St John mean by “continual reading of divine Scriptures” and “taking advantage of spiritual reading”? I admit I don’t know that much about the folk spiritual practices of early Christians, but I suspect that they would mostly encounter scripture through other people. They would hear scripture at mass, hear it from religious leaders, and know sections of it by heart. In other words, I would think “continual reading of divine scriptures” means encountering the Word in community, through and with other Christians, rather than shut away in a study.

    I could be way off base hear, but that’s my attempt at interpreting this quote. I think it’s important because it has a large implication for how we can live out St John’s words today. After all, the image that comes to mind when I read the quote is me sitting in my room reading the Bible. That image is rather static, it’ almost dead. But the image comes alive when I instead picture it as encountering the Word through and with my community. At mass, in discussions, group studies, even on this blog.


    • Eli says :

      Mike, I think you’re exactly right to read layers into this quote. I think it is about as I said, a disciplined perseverance to continually meditate on the words of scripture, and contextually, participation in mass. I think at the heart this quote is about the continual movement towards holy things, to participate in them.

      I agree wholeheartedly that reading the Word is about reading Him with others and through others, and encountering Him in the world. It is God’s Church that shall save our weary souls, through being able to mediate to us the Perfect Word, who alone makes all things new.

      Great thoughts, I concur.

      Peace, and thanks for the comment, as always.


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