Thursday, July 30, 2020


Today is the feast of St. Peter Chrysologus, Doctor of the Church. He was appointed by St. Sixtus III to the See of Ravenna. Ravenna at the time was an extraordinarily important city, since it had replaced Rome as the capital of the Western Roman Empire (it had a much better climate), but Peter seems to have been an almost complete unknown at the time; according to legend, Sixtus appointed him because he had a dream in which he saw him singled out by St. Peter and St. Apollinaris (first bishop of Ravenna), and then when the delegation from Ravenna arrived, Sixtus recognized him immediately as the man in the dream. It is said that Peter received his nickname, Chrysologus, from the empress, Galla Placidia, and he and she seem to have gotten along well, mutually supporting each other in a long series of projects for the poor.

Whoever is free from captivity to this mammon, and is no longer weighed down under the cruel burden of money, stands securely with his vantage point in heaven, and from there looks down over the mammon which is holding sway over the world and the worldly with a tyrant's fury.

It holds sway over nations, it gives orders to kingdoms, it wages wars, it equips warriors, it traffics in blood, it transacts death, it threatens homelands, it destroys cities, it conquers peoples, it attacks fortresses, it puts citizens in an uproar, it presides over the marketplace, it wipes out justice, it confuses right and wrong, and by aiming directly at morality it assails one's integrity, it violates truth, it eviscerates one's reputation, it wreaks havoc on one's honor, it dissolves affections, it removes innocence, it keeps compassion buried, it severs relationships, it does not permit friendship. And why should I say more? This is mammon: the master of injustice, since it is unjust in the power it wields over human bodies and minds.

[Peter Chrysologus, Selected Sermons, Volume 3, Palardy, tr. Catholic University of America Press (Washington, DC: 2005). Sermon 126, section 5. ]