On the power and selfless bonds of friendship

To have a friend is to have another self; it is concord and harmony, which nothing can equal.

In this,one is the equivalent of many. For if two, or ten, are united, none of them is merely one any longer, but each of them has the ability and value of ten; and you will find the one on the ten, and the ten in the one. If they have an enemy, attacking not one, but ten, he is defeated, for he is struck, not by one, but by ten .

Has one fallen into want? Still he is not desolate; for he prospers in his greater part; that is to say in the nine, and the needy part is protected; that is, the smaller part by that which prospers.

Each one of them has twenty hands, and twenty eyes, and as many feet. For he sees not with his own eyes alone, but with those of others; he walks not with his own feet, but with those of others; he works not with his own hands, but with those of others. He has ten souls, for he alone is not concerned about himself, but those other nine souls are concerned about him.

And if they are a hundred, the same thing will take place again, power will be increased.

-St Anthusa, the mother of St John Chrysostom, in a letter to her son, “On Ideal Friendship”


The Eastern Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholic Churches venerate St John (lived 347-407) as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs, while in the Roman Catholic Church he is revered as a great Doctor of the Church. During his tumultuous tenure as Patriarch of Constantinople, he ran afoul of the Empress Eudoxia after criticizing her for her vanity, haughtiness and indifference to the plight of the city’s poor. He offended the imperial capital’s wealthy political elites by turning over their lavish gifts to him to the poor and exhorting them to repent of their dissolute lifestyles.
Extremely eloquent and persuasive as a preacher, he earned his epithet meaning “the golden mouthed” from his numerous homilies and his masterful writings as a practiced ascetic and leading theologian. He is the principal author of the Divine Liturgy which bears his name. The Liturgy of St John Chrysostom is the most widely used liturgical form in the world today following the Novus Ordo ‘ordinary form’ of the Roman Mass. Among both Eastern Orthodox and Eastern-rite Catholics, this Byzantine liturgical form is the most widely celebrated.


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