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St. Gregory Nazianzen, [Nazianzus] 330-390. Doctor of Theologians
Doctors of the Catholic ^ | not available | Doctors of the Catholic Church

Posted on 01/01/2006 10:04:51 PM PST by Salvation




St Gregory Nazianzus, 330-390. Doctor of Theologians. Feast Jan 2nd.

Theologians, justices, and lawyers involved in all types of law should heed the advice and wisdom of Gregory when it comes to justice. Jury members, judges and those who make decisions regarding the sentencing or passing judgment on others have a valuable lesson to learn from St Gregory. He wrote marvelously about the justice of God and clearly explained it. He said that no one could adequately explain God or the Divine attributes without expressing and discovering a distinct depth to the infinite justice of God. For some explanations about Catholic social justices click:

Theology is the rational interpretation about God, religion and the relationship of people and religion together. It is also the study of God. However, how is it possible to explain God rationally when God is beyond all rational explanation? When we attempt to study the divine we do so in human terms. Therefore, all that study or have an interest in theology might implore "the theologian" for a blessing and insight in the study of God. It is principally through God's light that we receive inspiration to truly know about the Godhead’s intrinsic nature, which is grace.

Gregory was a personal friend of St. Basil and took up his offer to join him in a newly founded monastery. It is perhaps fitting that their feast day is celebrated together. No other doctors have that same distinction. He was a gifted writer and, in addition to his theological writing about the Trinity, he also wrote poetry, some of it autobiographical of great depth and beauty. Not only did he write about the Trinity but also later he would give great sermons on the Three Persons of God for which he is mostly remembered.

This famous theologian had a clear insight into the nature of God both from a theological and practical viewpoint. He was famous for his writings on the Trinity and loved to write about the mysteries of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He could not have received this gift had he not spent considerable time in prayer for no one can understand the deep things of God but the Spirit who bestows wisdom. God quite lavishly bestows abundant supernatural light on those who seek and search wholeheartedly for the truth. According to Gregory, the desire for God is a precious jewel that fascinates God as if it were the only thing in the world. God can't resist inundating us with grace through our sincere requests almost to the point that nothing will be refused if we ask with confidence, expectation and hope.

Listen to his words: "God accepts our desires as though they were a great value. He longs ardently for us to desire and love Him. He accepts our petitions for benefits as though we were doing him a favor. God's joy in giving is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests; nor ask for frivolous things unworthy of God's greatness."

These words were learned as a monk in a monastery and Gregory would have stayed there if he had anything to say about it, but he didn't. Gregory's father was a bishop and he wanted Gregory in his own diocese and out of the monastery.

He had great struggles as a leader of the Church. He perhaps was more drawn to the writing field but he didn't flinch when God asked him to serve as a bishop. Gregory was not talented as an administrator as he was in theological research and writing. Cardinal Newman indicated that he was frequently struggling with his natural fear and tendency toward irritability and other passions. The Cardinal noted that none of these human weaknesses interfered with him becoming a saint. Gregory would have been the first to tell you that he wasn't a good administrator and because of that, in a short time, he resigned due to contradictions and controversy.

St Nazianzus was also caught up in the Arian controversy. He received lots of slander, insults and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric. We today can not even imagine what the early, faithful Christians went through and the sufferings they had to endure due to the Arians and its heresy. Gregory was a biblical exegete. That is one who explains or offers critical interpretation about the bible.

Gregory was unafraid of failure. True Christians do not accept failure. It is merely an allowance that God permits. It is only a setback, not a failure, designed to enable one to become more successful in the art and science of serving God and others.

Another glowing example of one who suffered at least eleven, serious setbacks or defeats before he assumed the presidency was Abraham Lincoln. Imagine how Lincoln could have easily given up his quest for his higher calling had he permitted failures and setbacks to deter him. Where would this world be without Lincoln’s monumental contributions in making this earth a better place? Where would we find the dignity, freedom and integration that we have without Lincoln? Think of his pluck and backbone to forge ahead with confidence and zeal despite the 1 to 11 odds?

There is a famous quotation whose source I do not know which reads:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent; genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent”.

Lest we think that Gregory became too wrapped up in God from a theoretical aspect and forgot his neighbor let us read the beautiful words attributed to him: “Whenever we have the opportunity, let us visit Christ, let us feed him, clothe him, welcome him and honor him”. Those who pursue God are first pursued by God (God is always the original mover). He reveals the Deity most frequently in others than in Himself. It is easier that way and God is profoundly simple. God is not in the abstract but in the concrete-especially the flesh. Those who are engaged in the corporal works of mercy are performing the spiritual works of mercy.

For a glance at the difference between the corporal and spiritual works of mercy that Gregory is referring to click on the below link to the Doctor of Doctrine, St Leo the Great:

Grace united to firm commitment to do God's will is what characterized Gregory's life. Everything in life is designed by God to lead us to a holy union and peace of soul. This can happen despite contradictions, controversies and many incompatibilities that were superabundant in Gregory’s life. One might ask: how can this happen? How can the Church hold up as the theologian doctor, par excellence, and as a model, one who resigned and appeared to disobey his superior when it came to an assignment? Wasn’t he unsuccessful in fulfillment of his duties?

The Church’s one vocational title in addition to "Spiritual Mother and Bride of Christ" might be called "The Theologian for the Faithful". Among the doctors, the Church gives this title to St Gregory Nazianzus both for how Gregory thought and on what he achieved. Many famous theologians might say with great subtlety that it is difficult to know God but quite impossible to express what that knowledge is. Gregory would say in a deeper dimension that it is impossible to express the greatness of God in words or to give God a name, but still more impossible-not difficult-to understand the nature of God.

Gregory claimed that God is better known by nescience-the science of ignorance. God is ineffable. Although the doctors of the Church were all eminent theologians in the pure sense and expressed God clearly and powerfully, they would all subscribe to Gregory’s comment. He said: “One should not speak much in this life. One can discourse upon the world on matter and on the soul, on rational creatures whether good or bad, on judgment, rewards and penalties, and on the sufferings of Jesus Christ. But when one undertakes to consider God, not in what He has said or done, but in what God is, restraint and sobriety are to commended”. This last quote is taken from the chapter entitled, the ineffable God, in Henri de Lubac’s book entitled "The Discovery of God." Cardinal DeLubac was a leading figure on ressourcement in twentieth century. He labored to rediscover the whole Church’s rich past. This subject is listed in the sources.

The French word, Retrouvaille, also means rediscover. It too represents a program in the Catholic Church for renewing marriage. To explore, click on the link:

No matter our state or calling in life, we need renewal because human nature is noteworthy for getting into trouble. It happened in the “Garden of Eden” and time hasn’t changed since then. Based on statistics, marriage is the most troubled vocation or profession. It is also that vocation which God calls most of us. The Retrouvaille program, Marriage Encounter and other similar involvements are invaluable for ensuring growth and sanctity.

There is additional information about marriage and marriage encounter groups in the link below under the St Hilary, Doctor of the Church. He is the only married Doctor and his optional memorial is Jan, 13th.

St. Hilary of Poitiers 1/13

Holy and continual marriage is impossible without sound theology because it helps us to understand and be prepared to enter into this most holy sacrament. The lives and writings of both Gregory and Hilary gives us insight and undertanding into the sacredness of union between two persons exactly as God is unitied with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We do not need to be a theologian as Gregory to grasp basic facts. Our Creator has endowed us with an intellect to comprehend that we are more than human beings. We are spiritual beings too. We are both body and soul. We experience the natural and the supernatural. We need to be reminded that many of our experiences are both human and divine. We feel the spiritual and the earthly.

The Church has always had brilliant lay theologians. St Prosper of Aquitaine who lived in the 5th century stated that “ the law of prayer is the law of faith.” This phrase explains that the authentic liturgical prayer of the Church always points to authentic doctrine. The Church believes as it prays. Gregory and Prosper both remind us that sincere prayer is belief in God and vice-versa.

Jesus came to be one of us as a Human and Divine Being, one for us as a Redeemer and one in us as a Sanctifier so that we can aspire to be united to Him in our thoughts, words and actions. This unification means that we become one in intention, feeling, hope and goodwill to all as He did for us. Jesus is the God-Man. Our Supreme Being has no sex. Our Jewish Model, born of a woman, had all of our feelings and temptations that we experience and He directed them to His Father and our Father too, to encourage us to do the same. He promised the Spirit in full measure after He left to remain with us in a spiritual manner.

Gregory writes to us of this Trinitarian Truth. The invisible God has become visible in time to sanctity us now. Eternity is now for us. Eternity is for us now and later. If we share our earthly life with God, God will share the eternal life with us now and later. We do not have to wait to experience heaven and the hereafter. We have it now in faith, hope and love. The theological virtues are for us to experience the human and divine to achieve God’s will for us.

Ponder the words taught us by the most exalted Theologian, Jesus: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. The Our Father binds together all brotherhood and sisterhood into one, united humanity. It links and unites all angelic spirits in heaven with all angelic spirits given to souls on earth. When we have sincere faith in God, our guardian angel will merge our thoughts into kind and loving thoughts toward all creation and creatures in an angelic-human unselfish manner.

The ordinary sign of the cross we make reminds us of the Trinity. Gregory helped write of the Nicene Creed and probably helped to formulate it. We need to be reminded of Who dwells in all creatures because of our absentmindedness and God’s invisible mystery and non-absence. The cross also reminds us that God sent His Son into the world to die on the cross for all people. The cross points in all directions as Christ was and is extended for all. Christ’s crucifixion (and all that have been persecuted, injured, abused, humiliated and destroyed) is a sign and a crime of our failure to act justly.

The justice of man is not the justice of God. We still need to learn better the justice of God. Jesus has come to usher in the new law of Trinitarian truth to set us free. An eye for an eye belonged to the past. Jesus brings the “Good News” with His presence and futuristic outlook. If any person was ahead of His time and not appreciated, Jesus has to head the list. One of the reasons that Jesus understood the future is because He read the past. He was constantly quoting the prophets. He spoke admirably about the major (most known and lengthy) and the minor (least known and shortest) prophets. He knew His history thoroughly and understood the difference between the justice of God and man’s justice.

The themes of justice run through all forty-six books of the Old Testament. Jesus often referred to Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. Jesus constantly lived out the last book in the Old Testament, the book of Malachi. Three things only are what God wants according to Micah. The first was to act justly. To love tenderly and walk humbly with God followed acting just.

Jesus merged together the justice of God and the love of God by His Crucifixion. Vengeance belongs to the Lord-leave it alone. Naturally, we must defend ourselves but taking other’s lives through the court system will one day bring us before the heavenly court of God’s judgment.

The spirit of God is present in all living souls in spite of corruption, crimes and misdemeanors. As Gregory was a vigorous opponent of those principles that oppose faith and belief, each person must exercise that same opposition of principles that violate Trinitarian principles. Do we have the right to take other’s life? Does anyone have the right to take another life? Who is the author of life? The bible tells us that even if a mother forgets her child, the Lord will not abandon us. Gregory imparts Trinitarian truths, beliefs and principles that all creatures have access to if they petition God for insight and help. Some may never discover the “light” but that doesn’t mean that the “light” is not there.

Life remains a mystery despite all the explanations. Jesus’ surrender on the cross, despite all of its horrors especially with His mother standing and looking up to the cross with her Son affixed to it, is a lasting testament to His unspeakable love He showed to His Father. It is a vivid reminder how necessary we ought to heed the famous words of St Gregory and ponder its meaning. Restraint and sobriety are to be commended in all we do or say. Sobriety in this context means solidness, steadiness and stableness.

We can not fully understand the mystery of God or man’s infinite dignity. St Gregory, please pray for us to act as Mary standing and looking up into Christ’s face in total abandonment and acceptance to God’s will. His bloody death sanctified us in justice but it was not the justice of man but the justice of God over the hatred of men. Jesus warned the Scribes and the Pharisees and us today that if our justice does not exceed theirs, we would not enter into His kingdom.

Gregory went so far as to state that “if anyone does not believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of God, that person is separated from the Deity”. Thus we realize that without faith in God and the acknowledgement of Mary as the Mother of God, a separation from God occurs. The Mother and her Son unites us to God when we believe. A wall of separation exist without adherence to this central belief of the Catholic faith. Of course, non-Catholics or anyone who does not believe that Mary is the actual Mother of God are not separated from God if they possess charity, which is the life and existence of God.

The Church’s teachings about our Lady and confirmed by the doctors and the magisterium and her role as Mother of God is found in A Short Catechism of Mary written by Charles Cardinal Journet and printed by Catholic Book Publishing Co. in 1990. This book will enable the reader to learn at a glance the essential Catholic teaching about Our Lady and what she means to the life of all Christians. Obviously, the most recent updated version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is more comprehensive. There is an additional link below on comments from all the Doctors of the Catholic Church about Mary.


Gregory, and his dear friend Basil, who he joined in his monastery at the beginning of his spiritual journey, both adhered to Mary ever Virgin. This has become a part of the Church’s teachings. Mary is the model for all creatures in order that we allow her to put in order that which is disordered in us. Our thoughts, feelings and even our aspirations are frequently disarrayed due to original sin. Mary was singularly privileged and exempted from that curse. Thus, our life-long goal can be to receive in time what Mary received immediately. Once again, our divine Theologian, Jesus, said: “Blessed are the pure of heart (immaculate) for they shall see God”. Mary, emulated by the doctors and proclaimed immaculate in dogma, was made for God and us. For Jesus because it was fitting and for us because God is just and will distribute divine justice orderly, properly and fairly to all without exception. We can say that what God gave to Mary instantly He gives to us in time with grace and our cooperation and willingness. It may sound 'crazy' but we can become immaculate in thought, word and action in our own unique manner through grace, belief and prayer.

According to how we live, God will attract and draw each of us to want to learn and know more about life and the things of the Spirit and be more in tune with our spirit. We are called as Gregory to be a theologian in spirit. That is what praying and doing good is all about: uniting our hearts, minds and souls to God and assisting others according to their needs. Gregory, among all the doctors, wrote that Mary was always central to the gospels in the acts and devotion of Eastern Christians. Basil revered virgins and taught that Mary was ever virgin in his homilies regarding the birth of Jesus. He insisted that virginity should be honored and marriage not despised.

The bishop of Nazianzus, St Gregory, is one of the first earliest Fathers from whom we have any mention of prayers addressed to Mary for obtaining her protection and assistance.

The Theologian’s body rest in St Peter’s basilica in Rome. As the Church of St Peters is considered the Mother of all other Catholic Churches, the Church honors this saintly doctor’s theology in the highest esteem by given him the title among all the other doctors as The Theologian. In Joan Carroll Cruz’s book entitled: Mysteries, Marvels and Miracles , listed in the sources, she writes that St Gregory’s body is said to have been identified by its sweet fragrance from those of other members of his family who had been buried in the same vault. When we practice the theology that St Gregory Nazianzus held, we too, will emanate with God’s pleasing fragrance in life in the same manner as Gregory in his death.

Anyone able to think or act kindly and justly is a theologian. We are created in the image and likeness of God. Whether we acknowledge that presence through our mind or heart, we become a visible sign of God's greatness and gift. All have a unique gift. The gifted, Gregory, reminds all that theology is not only the study of God but the acting out of our own particular gifts that reveal God to others by our thoughts, words and actions. The greater the gift, the greater is our accountability to share that favor and grace from God. Gregory was not matched for his job as bishop but he cooperated with God's plan and tried to accept his situation. God sometimes permits impossible situations to test and help us surrender to His will. We need but to strive sincerely and all will be well.

We mustn't think that the study of Theology is only an intellectual endeavor. Theology involves the head and the heart. Whether we are in the scientific, business or artistic field we are called to use our own personal theology through the basic theological virtues of faith, hope and charity. These are the eminent virtues. These enable and empower us to become 'doctors'. One of the requirements of becoming a Doctor of the Church is to possess eminent virtues-that's towering virtue.

Theology is a sacred science, (church) business and (performing) art. Listen to a quote from St Gregory Nazianzen which is taken from a Dominican brochure (Blackfriars Repertory Theatre) for one of their apostolates that proclaims the saving power of the Gospel via the medium of theatre: "The scope of our art is to provide the soul with wings, to rescue it from the world and give it to God, and to watch over that which is in his image-if it abides, to take it by the hand; if it is in danger, to restore it; if it is ruined, to make Christ dwell in the heart by the Spirit; and in a word, to deify and bestow heavenly bliss upon one who belongs to the heavenly host".

Interesting interconnecting links:

Additional links:

Related web site: Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice-Connecting Youth to Global Affairs:

Under the below link on both Fathers and Doctors we have Greogry's orations and letters:>

The Church has made St Gregory Nazianzus "The Theologian of the Universal Church, both East and West, for his holiness, penetrating writings on the mystery of God and his profound wisdom in discerning true knowledge. Nothing of his own personal weaknesses, character or sinfulness impeded his tremendous quest and desire to please God despite his setbacks, disappointments and human failures. Gregory's faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ allowed God's grace to motivate, penetrate and impart his life, message and gifts to the Church and civilization. Many holy men and women have learn from St Gregory despite tremendous opposition and many crosses. We have the same opportunity to grow in holiness. He has left us a precious legacy that he learned from God. Through prayer God gave St Gregory Nazianzus true knowledge and charity.

Toward the end of 2004, in Rome, John Paul II released the holy relic and gift of Gregory Nazianzus to the Eastern Orthodox Church. His aim is always for the One, Holy, Apostolic, Universal Church to unite all people from all nations and it was for that very reason he did this generous giving of the relic as a gesture of goodwill, harmony and unity. This noble gesture is a holy manifestation toward accord, oneness of churches and a sincere movement toward unity among all people of different denominations.

St Gregory had always belonged to the East and the West of the Universal Catholic Church. However, the West had fully possession of his relic. There was some controversy about this issue and the Pope with his profound wisdom, as St Gregory, decided to be moved by the Spirit of God in this delicate manner and return his holy relic to the Eastern Orthodox to end this controversy and promote peace, goodwill and unity.

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St. Gregory Nazianzen's Feastday is January 2nd.
1 posted on 01/01/2006 10:04:53 PM PST by Salvation
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An interesting tidbit:
**The bishop of Nazianzus, St Gregory, is one of the first earliest Fathers from whom we have any mention of prayers addressed to Mary for obtaining her protection and assistance.**

2 posted on 01/01/2006 10:05:28 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Feast: January 2
From his own works, and other monuments of that age. See Gregory of Caesarea, who writ his life in 940; Hermant, Tillemont, t. ix., Ceillier, t. vii.; also the life of this saint, compiled from his works by Baronius, published by Alberici, in an appendix to the life and letters of that cardinal, in 1759, t. ii.]

St Gregory who, from his profound skill in sacred learning, is surnamed the Theologian, was a native of Arianzum, an obscure village in the territory of Nazianzum, a small town in Cappadocia not far from Caesarea His parents are both honoured in the calendars of the church: his father on the 1st of January and his mother Nonna on the 5th of August. She drew down the blessing of heaven upon her family by most bountiful and continual alms-deeds, in which she knew one of the greatest advantages of riches to consist; yet, to satisfy the obligation of justice which she owed to her children, she by her prudent economy improved at the same time their patrimony. The greatest part of her time she devoted to holy prayer; and her respect and attention to the least thing which regarded religion is not to be expressed. His father, whose name also was Gregory, was from his infancy a worshipper of false gods, but of the sect called the Hipsistarii, on account of the profession they made of adoring the Most High God. The prayers and tears of Nonna at length obtained of God the conversion of her husband, whose integrity in the discharge of the chief magistracy of his town and the practice of strict moral virtue prepared him for such a change. His son has left us the most edifying detail of his humility, holy zeal, and other virtues.[1] He had three children, Gorgonia, Gregory, and Caesarius, who was the youngest. Gregory was the fruit of the most earnest prayers of his mother who, upon his birth, offered him to God for the service of his church. His virtuous parents gave him the strongest impressions of piety in his tender age; and his chief study, from his very infancy, was to know God by the help of pious books, in the reading whereof he was very assiduous.

Having acquired grammar-learning in the schools of his own country, and being formed to piety by domestic examples, he was sent to Caesarea, in Palestine, where the study of eloquence flourished. He pursued the same studies some time at Alexandria, and there embarked for Athens in November. The vessel was beaten by a furious storm during twenty days, without any hopes either for the ship or passengers; all which time he lay upon the deck, bemoaning the danger of his soul on account of his not having been as yet baptized, imploring the divine mercy with many tears and loud groans, and frequently renewing his promise of devoting himself entirely to God in case he survived the danger. God was pleased to hear his prayer: the tempest ceased and the vessel arrived safe at Rhodes, and soon after at Aegina, an island near Athens. He had passed through Caesarea of Cappadocia in his road to Palestine; and making some stay there to improve himself under the great masters of that city, had contracted an acquaintance with the great St. Basil, which he cultivated at Athens, whither that saint followed him soon after. The intimacy between these two saints became from that time the most perfect model of holy friendship, and nothing can be more tender than the epitaph which St. Gregory composed upon his friend. Whilst they pursued their studies together, they shunned the company of those scholars who sought too much after liberty, and conversed only with the diligent and virtuous. They avoided all feasting and vain entertainments; and were acquainted only with two streets, one that led to the church and the other to the schools. Riches they despised and accounted as thorns, employing their allowance in supplying themselves with bare necessaries for an abstemious and slender subsistence, and disposing of the remainder in behalf of the poor. Envy had no place in them; sincere love made each of them esteem his companion's honour and advantage as his own; they were to each other a mutual spur to all good, and by a holy emulation neither of them would be outdone by the other in fasting, prayer, or the exercise of any virtue. Saint Basil left Athens first. The progress which St. Gregory made here in eloquence, philosophy, and the sacred studies appears by the high reputation which he acquired, and by the monuments which he has left behind him. But his greatest happiness and praise was, that he always made the love and fear of God his principal affair, to which he referred his studies and all his endeavours. In 355 Julian, afterwards emperor, came to Athens, where he spent some months with St. Basil and St. Gregory in the study of profane literature and the holy scriptures. St. Gregory then prognosticated what a mischief the empire was breeding up in that monster—from the levity of his carriage, the rolling and wandering of his eyes, the fierceness of his looks, the tossing of his head, the shrugging up of his shoulders, his uneven gait, his loud and unseasonable laughter, his rash and incoherent discourse—the indications of an unsettled and arrogant mind.[2] The year following, our saint left Athens for Nazianzum and took Constantinople in his way. Here he found his brother Gesarius arrived not long before from Alexandria, where he had accomplished himself in all the polite learning of that age and applied himself particularly to physic. The Emperor Constantius honoured him with his favour and made him his chief physician. His generosity appeared I in this station by his practice of physic, even among the rich, without the inducement of either fee or reward. He was also a father to the poor, on whom he bestowed the greatest part of his income. Gregory was importuned by many to make his appearance at the bar, or at least to teach rhetoric, as that which would afford him the best means to display talents and raise his fortune in the world. But he answered that he totally devoted himself to the service of God.

The first thing he did after his return to Nazianzum was to fulfil his engagement of consecrating himself entirely to God by receiving baptism at the hands of his father. This he did without reserve: "I have," says he,[3] "given all I have to him from whom I received it, and have taken him alone for my whole possession. I have consecrated to him my goods, my glory, my health, my tongue, and talents. All the fruit I have received from these advantages has been the happiness of despising them for Christ's sake." From that moment never was man more dead to ambition, riches, pleasures, or reputation. He entertained no secret affection for the things of this world, but trampled under his feet all its pride and perishable goods; finding no ardour, no relish, no pleasure but in God and in heavenly things. His diet was coarse bread, with salt and water.[4] He lay upon the ground; wore nothing but what was coarse and vile. He worked hard all day, spent a considerable part of the night in singing the praises of God, or in contemplation.[5] With riches he contemned also profane eloquence, on which he had bestowed so much pains, making an entire sacrifice of it to Jesus Christ. His classics and books of profane oratory he abandoned to the worms and moths.[6] He regarded the greatest honours as vain dreams, which only deceive men, and dreaded the precipices down which ambition drags its inconsiderate slaves. Nothing appeared to him comparable to the life which a man leads who is dead to himself and his sensual inclinations; who lives as it were out of the world, and has no other conversation but with God.[7] However, he for some time took upon him the care of his father's household and the management of his affairs. He was afflicted with several sharp fits of sickness, caused by his extreme austerities and continual tears, which often did not suffer him to sleep.[8] He rejoiced in his distempers, because in them he found the best opportunities of mortification and self-denial.[9] The immoderate laughter, which his cheerful disposition had made him subject to in his youth, was afterwards the subject of his tears. He obtained so complete a conquest over the passion of anger as to prevent all indeliberate motions of it, and became totally indifferent in regard to all that before was most dear to him. His generous liberality to the poor made him always as destitute of earthly goods as the poorest, and his estate was common to all who were in necessity, as a port is to all at sea.[10] Never does there seem to have been a greater lover of retirement and silence. He laments the excesses into which talkativeness draws men, and the miserable itch that prevails in most people to become teachers of others.[11]

It was his most earnest desire to disengage himself from the converse of men and the world, that he might more freely enjoy that of heaven. He accordingly, in 358, joined St. Basil in the solitude into which he had retreated, situate near the river Iris, in Pontus. Here, watching, fasting, prayer, studying the holy scriptures, singing psalms, and manual labour employed their whole time. As to their exposition of the divine oracles, they were guided in this not by their own lights and particular way of thinking, but, as Rufinus writes,[12] by the interpretation which the ancient fathers and doctors of the church had delivered concerning them. But this solitude Gregory enjoyed only just long enough to be enamoured of its sweetness, being soon recalled back by his father, then above eighty, to assist him in the government of his flock. To draw the greater succour from him he ordained him priest by force and when he least expected it. This was performed in the church on some great festival, and probably on Christmas Day in 361. He knew the sentiments of his son with regard to that charge, and his invincible reluctance on several accounts, which was the reason of his taking this method. The saint accordingly speaks of his ordination as a kind of tyranny which he knew not well how to digest; in which sentiments he flew into the deserts of Pontus and sought relief in the company of his dear friend St. Basil, by whom he had been lately importuned to return. Many censured this his flight, ascribing it to pride, obstinacy, and the like motives. Gregory likewise, himself, reflecting at leisure on his own conduct and the punishment of the prophet Jonas for disobeying the command of God, came to a resolution to go back to Nazianzum; where, after a ten weeks' absence, he appeared again on Easter Day, and there preached his first sermon on that great festival. This was soon after followed by another, which is extant, under the title of his apology for his flight.

In this discourse St. Gregory extols the unanimity of that church in faith and their mutual concord; but towards the end of the reign of Julian, an unfortunate division happened in it, which is mentioned by the saint in his first invective against that apostate prince.[13] The bishop, his father, hoping to gain certain persons to the church by condescension, admitted certain writing which had been drawn up by the secret favourers of Arianism in ambiguous and artful terms. This unwary condescension of the elder Gregory gave offence to the more zealous part of his flock, and especially to the monks, who refused thereupon to communicate with him. Our saint discharged his duty so well in this critical affair that he united the flock with their pastor without the least concession in favour of the error of those by whom his father had been tricked into a subscription against his intention and design, his faith being entirely pure. On the occasion of this joyful reunion our saint pronounced an elegant discourse.[14] Soon after the death of Julian he composed his two invective orations against that apostate. He imitates the severity which the prophets frequently made use of in their censure of wicked kings; but his design was to defend the church against the pagans by unmasking the injustice, impiety, and hypocrisy of its capital persecutor. The saint's younger brother, Caesarius, had lived in the court of Julian, highly honoured by that emperor for his learning and skill in physic. St. Gregory pressed him to forsake the family of an apostate prince, in which he could not live without being betrayed into many temptations and snares.[15] And so it happened; for Julian, after many caresses, assailed him by inveigling speeches, and at length, by a warm disputation in favour of idolatry. Caesarius answered him that he was a Christian, and such he was resolved always to remain. However, apprehensive of the dangers in which he lived, he soon after chose rather to resign his post than to run the hazard of his faith and a good conscience. He therefore left the court, though the emperor endeavoured earnestly to detain him. After the miserable death of the apostate, he appeared again with distinction in the courts of Jovian and Valens, and was made by the latter <Comes rerum privatarum>, or treasurer of the imperial rents, which office was but a step to higher dignities. In the discharge of this employment of Bithynia he happened to be at Nice in the great earthquake, which swallowed up the chief part of that city in 360. The treasurer, with some few others, escaped by being preserved through a wonderful providence in certain hollow parts of the ruins. St. Gregory improved this opportunity to urge him again to quit the world and its honours, and to consecrate to God alone a life for which he was indebted to him on so many accounts.[16] Gesarius, moved by so awakening an accident, listened to his advice and took a resolution to renounce the world; but returning home, fell sick and died in the fervour of his sacrifice, about the beginning of the year 368, leaving his whole estate to the poor.[17] He is named in the Roman Martyrology on the 25th of February. St. Gregory, extolling his virtue, says that whilst he enjoyed the honours of the world he looked upon the advantage of being a Christian as the first of his dignities and the most glorious of all his titles, reckoning all the rest dross and dung. He was buried at Nazianzum, and our saint pronounced his funeral panegyric, as he also did that of his holy sister Gorgonia, who died soon after. He extols her humility; her prayer often continued whole nights with tears; her modesty, prudence, patience, resignation, zeal, respect for the ministers of God and for holy places; her liberality to them and great charity to the poor; her penance, extraordinary care of the education of her children, &c. He mentions as miraculous her being cured of a palsy by praying at the foot of the altar, and her recovery after great wounds and bruises which she had received by a fall from her chariot.

In 372 Cappadocia was divided by the emperor into two provinces, and Tyana made the capital of that which was called the second. Anthimus, bishop of that city, pretended hence to an archiepiscopal jurisdiction over the second Cappadocia. St. Basil, the Metropolitan of Cappadocia, maintained that the civil division of the province had not infringed his jurisdiction, though he afterwards, for the sake of peace, yielded the second Cappadocia to the see of Tyana. He appointed our saint Bishop of Sasima, a small town in that division. Gregory stood out a long time, but at length submitted, overcome by the authority of his father and the influence of his friend. He accordingly received the episcopal consecration from the hands of St. Basil, at Caesarea, about the middle of the year 372. But he repaired to Nazianzum to wait a favourable opportunity of taking possession of his church of Sasima, which never happened; for Anthimus, who had in his interest the new governor, and was master of all the avenues and roads to that town, would by no means admit him. Basil reproached his friend with sloth; but St. Gregory answered him that he was not disposed to fight for a church.[18] He, however, charged himself with the government of that of Nazianzum under his father till his death, which happened the year following. St. Gregory pronounced his funeral panegyric in presence of St. Basil and of his mother, St. Nonna, who died shortly after. Holy solitude had been the constant object of his most earnest desires, and he had only waited the death of his father entirely to bury himself in it. Nevertheless, yielding to the importunities of others and to the necessities of the church of Nazianzum, he consented to continue his care of it till the neighbouring bishops could provide it with a pastor. But seeing this affair protracted, and finding himself afflicted with various distempers, he left that city and withdrew to Seleucia, the metropolis of Isauria, in 375, where he continued five years. The death of St. Basil, in 379, was to him a sensible affliction, and he then composed twelve epigrams or epitaphs to his memory; and some years after pronounced his panegyric at Caesarea, namely, in 381 or 382. The unhappy death of the persecuting emperor Valens, in 378, restored peace to the church. The Catholic pastors sought means to make up the breaches which heresy had made in many places. For this end they held several assemblies and sent zealous and learned men into the provinces in which the tyrant had made the greatest havoc. The church of Constantinople was of all others in the most desolate and abandoned condition, having groaned during forty years under the tyranny of the Arians, and the few Catholics who remained there having been long without a pastor and even without a church wherein to assemble. They, being well acquainted with our saint's merit, importuned him to come to their assistance, and were backed by several bishops, desirous that his learning, eloquence, and piety might restore that church to its splendour. But such were the pleasures he enjoyed in his beloved retirement at Seleucia, and in his thorough disengagement from the world, that for some time these united solicitations made little or no impression on him. They had, however, at length their desired effect. His body bent with age, his head bald, his countenance extenuated with tears and austerities, his poor garb, and his extreme poverty made but a mean appearance at Constantinople; and no wonder that he was at first ill received in that polite and proud city. The Arians pursued him with calumnies, raillieries, and insults. The prefects and governors added their persecutions to the fury of the populace, all which concurred to acquire him the glorious title of confessor. He lodged first in the house of certain relations, where the Catholics first assembled to hear him. He soon after converted it into a church and gave it the name of Anastasia, or the Resurrection, because the Catholic faith, which in that city had been hitherto oppressed, here seemed to be raised, as it were, from the dead. Sozomen relates that this name was confirmed to it by a miraculous raising to life of a woman then with child, who was killed by falling from a gallery in it, but returned to life by the prayers of the congregation.[19] Another circumstance afterwards confirmed in this church the same name. During the reign of the Emperor Leo the Thracian, about the year 460, the body of St. Anastasia, virgin and martyr, was brought from Sirmich to Constantinople and laid in this place, as is recorded by Theodorus the Reader.[20] But this church is not to be confounded with another of the same name, which was in the hands of the Novatians under Constantius and Julian the Apostate.[21]

In this small church Nazianzen preached, and every day assembled his little flock, which increased daily. The Arians and Apollinarists, joined with other sects, not content to defame and calumniate him, had recourse to violence on his person. They pelted him with stones as he went along the streets, and dragged him before the civil magistrates as a malefactor, charging him with tumult and sedition. But he comforted himself on reflecting that though they were the stronger party he had the better cause; though they possessed the churches, God was with him; if they had the populace on their side, the angels were on his, to guard him. St. Jerome coming out of the deserts of Syria to Constantinople became the disciple and scholar of St. Gregory, and one of those who studied the holy scripture under him, of which that great doctor glories in his writings. Our holy pastor, being a lover of solitude, seldom went abroad or made any visits, except such as were indispensable; and the time that was not employed in the discharge of his functions he devoted to prayer and meditation, spending a considerable part of the night in those holy exercises. His diet was herbs and a little salt with bread. His cheeks were furrowed with the tears which he shed, and he daily prostrated himself before God to implore his light and mercy upon his people. His profound learning, his faculty of forming the most noble conceptions of things, and the admirable perspicuity, elegance, and propriety with which he explained them, charmed all who heard him. The Catholics flocked to his discourses as men parching with thirst eagerly go to the spring to quench it. Heretics and pagans resorted to them, admiring his erudition and charmed with his eloquence. The fruits of his sermons were every day sensible; his flock became in a short time very numerous, and he purged the people of that poison which had corrupted their hearts for many years. St. Gregory heard, with blushing and confusion, the applause and acclamations with which his discourses were received; and his fear of this danger made him speak in public with a certain timidity and reluctance. He scorned to flatter the great ones, and directed his discourses to explain and corroborate the Catholic faith and reform the manners of the people. He taught them that the way to salvation was not to be ever disputing about matters of religion (an abuse that was grown to a great height at that time in Constantinople), but to keep the commandments,[22] to give alms, to exercise hospitality, to visit and serve the sick, to pray, sigh, and weep; to mortify the senses, repress anger, watch over the tongue, and subject the body to the spirit. The envy of the devil and of his instruments could not bear the success of his labours, and by exciting trouble found means to interrupt them. Maximus, a native of Alexandria, a cynic philosopher, but withal a Christian, full of the impudence and pride of that sect, came to Constantinople; and under an hypocritical exterior disguised a heart full of envy, ambition, covetousness, and gluttony. He imposed on several, and for some time on St. Gregory himself, who pronounced an enlogium of this man in 379, now extant, under the title of the Eulogium of the Philosopher Hero; but St. Jerome assures us that instead of Hero we ought to read Maximus. This wolf in sheep's clothing having gained one of the priests of the city, and some partizans among the laity, procured himself to be ordained Bishop of Constantinople in a clandestine manner, by certain Egyptian bishops who lately arrived on that intent. The irregularity of this proceeding stirred up all the world against the usurper. Pope Damasus writ to testify his affliction on that occasion, and called the election null. The Emperor Theodosius the Great, then at Thessalonica, rejected Maximus with indignation; and coming to Constantinople, proposed to Demophilus, the Arian bishop, either to receive the Nicene faith or to leave the city; and upon his preferring the latter, his majesty, embracing St. Gregory, assured him that the Catholics of Constantinople demanded him for their bishop, and that their choice was most agreeable to his own desires. Theodosius, within a few days after his arrival, drove the Arians out of all the churches in the city and put the saint in possession of the Church of St. Sophia, upon which all the other churches of the city depended. Here the clamours of the people were so vehement that Gregory might be their bishop that all was in confusion till the saint prevailed upon them to drop that subject and to join in praise and thanksgiving to the ever blessed Trinity for restoring among them the profession of the true faith. The emperor highly commended the modesty of the saint. But a council was necessary to declare the see vacant and the promotion of the Arian Demophilus and of the cynic Maximus void and null. A synod of all the East was then meeting at Constantinople, in which St. Meletius, Patriarch of Antioch, presided. He being the great friend and admirer of Nazianzen, the council took his cause into consideration before all others, declared the election of Maximus null, and established St. Gregory Bishop of Constantinople, without having any regard to his tears and expostulations. St. Meletius dying during the synod, St. Gregory presided in the latter sessions. To put an end to the schism between Meletius and Paulinus at Antioch, it had been agreed that the survivor should remain in sole possession of that see. This Nazianzen urged; but the oriental bishops were unwilling to own for patriarch one whom they had opposed. They therefore took great offence at this most just and prudent remonstrance, and entered into a conspiracy with his enemies against him. The saint, who had only consented to his election through the importunity of others, was most ready to relinquish his new dignity. This his enemies sought to deprive him of, together with his life, on which they made several attempts. Once, in particular, they hired a ruffian to assassinate him. But the villain, touched with remorse, repaired to the saint with many tears, wringing his hands, beating his breast, and confessing his black attempt, which he should have put in execution had not Providence interposed. The good bishop replied: "May God forgive you; his gracious preservation obliges me freely to pardon you. Your attempt has now made you mine. One only thing I beg of you, that you forsake your heresy and sincerely give yourself to God." Some warm Catholics complained of his lenity and indulgence towards the Arians, especially those who had shown themselves violent persecutors under the former reigns.

In the meantime the bishops of Egypt and those of Macedonia arriving at the council, though all equally in the interest of Paulinus of Antioch, complained that Gregory's election was uncanonical, it being forbidden by the canons to transfer bishops from one see to another. Nazianzen calmly answered that those canons had lost their force by long disuse: which was most notorious in the East. Nor did they in the least regard his case; for he had never taken possession of the see of Sasima, and only governed that of Nazianzum as vicar under his father. However, seeing a great ferment among the prelates and people, he cried out in the assembly, "If my holding the see of Constantinople gives any disturbance, behold I am very willing, like Jonas, to be cast into the sea to appease the storm, though I did not raise it. If all followed my example, the church would enjoy an uninterrupted tranquillity. This dignity I never desired; I took this charge upon me much against my will. If you think fit, I am most ready to depart; and I will return back to my little cottage, that you may remain here quiet, and the church of God enjoy peace. I only desire that the see may be filled by a person that is capable and willing to defend the faith."[23] He thereupon left the assembly, overjoyed that he had broken his bands. The bishops, whom he left in surprise, but too readily accepted his resignation. The saint went from the council to the palace, and falling on his knees before the emperor and kissing his hand, said, "I am come, sir, to ask neither riches nor honours for myself or friends, nor ornaments for the churches, but licence to retire. Your majesty knows how much against my will I was placed in this chair. I displease even my friends on no other account than because I value nothing but God. I beseech you, and make this my last petition, that among your trophies and triumphs you make this the greatest, that you bring the church to unity and concord." The emperor and those about him were astonished at such a greatness of soul, and he with much difficulty was prevailed on to give his assent. This being obtained, the saint had no more to do than to take his leave of the whole city, which he did in a pathetic discourse, delivered in the metropolitan church before the hundred and fifty fathers of the council and an incredible multitude of the people.[24] He describes the condition in which he had found that church on his first coming to it and that in which he left it, and gives to God his thanks and the honour of the re-establishment of the Catholic faith in that city. He makes a solemn protestation of the disinterestedness of his own conduct during his late administration, not having touched any part of the revenues of the see of Constantinople the whole time. He reproaches the city with the love of shows, luxury, and magnificence, and says he was accused of too great mildness, also of a meanness of spirit, from the lowly appearance he made with respect both to dress and table. He vindicates his behaviour in these regards, saying, "I did not take it to be any part of my duty to vie with consuls, generals, and governors, who know not how to employ their riches otherwise than in pomp and show. Neither did I imagine that the necessary subsistence of the poor was to be applied to the support of luxury, good cheer, a prancing horse, a sumptuous chariot, and a long train of attendants. If I have acted in another manner and have thereby given offence, the fault is already committed and cannot be recalled, but I hope is not unpardonable." He concludes by bidding a moving farewell to his church, to his dear Anastasia, which he calls, in the. language of St. Paul, his glory and his crown; to the cathedral and all the other parishes of the city, to the holy apostles as honoured in the magnificent church (in which Constantius had placed the relics of St. Andrew, St. Luke, and St. Timothy), to the episcopal throne, to the clergy, to the holy monks and the other pious servants of God, to the emperor and all the court with its jealousies, pomp, and ambition, to the East and West divided in his cause, to the tutelar angels of his church, and to the sacred Trinity honoured in that place. He concludes with these words: "My dear children, preserve the depositum of faith, and remember the stones which have been thrown at me because I planted it in your hearts." The saint was most tenderly affected in abandoning his dear flock—his converts especially which he had gained at his first church of Anastasia, as they had already signalized themselves in his service by suffering persecutions with patience for his sake. They followed him weeping, and entreating him to abide with them. He was not insensible to their tears; but motives of greater weight obliged him not to regard them on this occasion. St. Gregory, seeing himself at liberty, rejoiced in his happiness, as he expressed himself some time after to a friend in these words: "What advantages have not I found in the jealousy of my enemies! They have delivered me from the fire of Sodom by drawing me from the dangers of the episcopal charge."[25] This treatment was the recompense with which men rewarded the labours and merit of a saint whom they ought to have sought in the remotest corners of the earth: but that city was not worthy to possess so great and holy a pastor. He had in that short time brought over the chief part of its inhabitants to the Catholic faith, as appears from his works and from St. Ambrose.[26] He had conquered the obstinacy of heretics by meekness and patience, and thought it a sufficient revenge for their former persecutions that he had it in his power to chastise them.[27] The Catholics he induced to show the same moderation towards them, and exhorted them to serve Jesus Christ by taking a Christian revenge of them, the bearing their persecutions with patience and the overcoming evil with good.[28] Besides establishing the purity of faith, he had begun a happy reformation of manners among the people; and much greater fruits were to be expected from his zealous labours. Nectarius, who succeeded him, was a soft man, and by no means equal to such a charge.

Before the election of Nectarius, Gregory left the city and returned to Nazianzum. In that retirement he composed the poem on his own life, particularly dwelling on what he had done at Constantinople to obviate the scandalous slanders which were published against him. He laboured to place a bishop at Nazianzum, but was hindered by the opposition of many of the clergy. Sickness obliged him to withdraw soon after to Arianzum, probably before the end of the year 381. In his solitude he testifies[29] that he regretted the absence of his friends, though he seemed insensible to everything else of this world. To punish himself for superfluous words (though he had never spoken to the disparagement of any neighbour) he, in 382, passed the forty days of Lent in absolute silence. In his desert he never refused spiritual advice to any that resorted to him for it. In his parzenetic poem to St. Olympias he lays down excellent rules for the conduct of married women. Among other precepts, he says, "In the first place, honour God; then respect your husband as the eye of your life, for he is to direct your conduct and actions. Love only him; make him your joy and your comfort. Take care never to give him any occasion of offence or disgust. Yield to him in his anger; comfort and assist him in his pains and afflictions, speaking to him with sweetness and tenderness, and making him prudent and modest remonstrances at seasonable times. It is not by violence and strength that the keepers of lions endeavour to tame them when they see them enraged; but they soothe and caress them, stroking them gently, and speaking with a soft voice. Never let his weaknesses be the subject of your reproaches. It can never be just or allowable for you to treat a person in this manner whom you ought to prefer to the whole world." He prays that this holy woman might become the mother of many children, that there might be the more souls to sing the praises of Jesus Christ.[30] He often repeats this important advice, that everyone begin and end every action by offering his heart and whatever he does to God by a short prayer.[31] For we owe to God all that we are or have; and he accepts and rewards the smallest action, not so much with a view to its importance as to the affection of the heart, which in his poverty gives what it has, and is able to give in return for God's benefits and in acknowledgment of his sovereignty.

St. Gregory had been obliged to govern the vacant see of Nazianzum after the death of his father, leaving the chief care of that church to Cledonius in his absence. But in 382 he procured Eulalias to be ordained bishop of that city, and spent the remainder of his life in retirement near Arianzum, still continuing to aid that church with his advice, though at that time very old and infirm. In this private abode he had a garden, a fountain, and a shady grove, in which he took much delight. Here, in company with certain solitaries, he lived estranged from pleasures and in the practice of bodily mortification, fasting, watching, and praying much on his knees. "I live," says he, "among rocks and with wild beasts, never seeing any fire or using shoes; having only one single garment.[32] I am the outcast and the scorn of men. I lie on straw, clad in sackcloth: my floor is always moist with the tears I shed."[33] In the decline of life he set himself to write pious poems for the edification of such among the faithful as were fond of music and poetry. He had also mind to oppose the poems made use of by the Apollinarist heretics to propagate their errors by such as were orthodox, useful, and religious, as the priest Gregory says in his life. He considered this exercise also as a work of penance, compositions in metre being always more difficult than those in prose. He therein recounts the history of his life and sufferings: he publishes his faults, his weaknesses, and his temptations, enlarging much more on these than on his great actions. He complains of the annoyance of his rebellious flesh, notwithstanding his great age, his ill state of health, and his austerities, acknowledging himself wholly indebted to the divine grace which had always preserved in him the treasure of virginity inviolable. God suffered him to feel these temptations that he might not be exposed to the snares of vanity and pride; and that whilst his soul dwelt in heaven he might be put in mind by the rebellion of the body that he was still on earth in a state of war. His poems are full of cries of ardent love, by which he conjures Jesus Christ to assist him, without whose grace he declares we are only dead carcasses, exhaling the stench of sin, and as incapable of making one step as a bird is of flying without air, or a fish of swimming without water; for he alone makes us see, act, and run.[34] He joined great watchfulness to prayer, especially shunning the conversation and neighbourhood of women,[35] over and above the assiduous maceration of his body. In his letters he gives to others the same advice, of which his own life was a constant example. One instance shall suffice. Sacerdos, a holy priest, was fallen into an unjust persecution through slander. St. Gregory writes to him thus in his third letter: "What evil can happen to us after all this? None, certainly, unless we by our own fault lose God and virtue. Let all other things fall out as it shall please God. He is the master of our life, and knows the reason of everything that befalls us. Let us only fear to do anything unworthy our piety. We have fed the poor, we have served our brethren, we have sung the psalms with cheerfulness. If we are no longer permitted to continue this, let us employ our devotion some other way. Grace is not barren, and opens different ways to heaven. Let us live in retirement; let us occupy ourselves in contemplation; let us purify our souls by the light of God. This perhaps will be no less a sacrifice than anything we can do." These were St. Gregory's occupation from the time of his last retirement till his happy death in 389, or, according to others, in 391. Tillemont gives him only sixty or sixty-one years of age, but he was certainly considerably older. The Latins honour him on the 8th of May. The Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus caused his ashes to be translated from Nazianzum to Constantinople, and to be laid in the Church of the Apostles, which was done with great pomp in 950. They were brought to Rome in the crusades and lie under an altar in the Vatican Church.

This great saint looked upon the smiles and frowns of the world with indifference, because spiritual and heavenly goods wholly engrossed his soul. "Let us never esteem worldly prosperity or adversity as things real or of any moment," said he,[36] "but let us live elsewhere, and raise all our attention to heaven, esteeming sin as the only true evil, and nothing truly good but virtue, which unites us to God."


1 Naz. Or. 19, Carm. 2.

2 Or. 4, p. 121.

3 Or. I p. 32.

4 Carm. 2, p. 31.

5 Carm. 55.

6 Carm. I.

7 Or. 29.

8 Carm. 55.

9 Ep. 69.

10 Carm. 49.

11 Or. 9, 29.

12 Rufin. Hist. lib. ii. c. 9, p. 254

13 Or. 3, p. 53.

14 Or. 12.

15 Ep. 17.

16 Ep. 16.

17 His will was comprised in these words: "I bequeath my whole substance to the poor."

18 Ep. 32.

19 Sozom. Lib. vii. c. 5.

20 Lib. ii. p. 191.

21 Socr. Lib. ii. c. 38.

22 Carm I.

23 Carm. I.

24 Or. 32.

25 Ep. 73.

26 L. de Spir. Sancto.

27 Or. 32.

28 Or. 24.

29 Ep. 73.

30 Quo plures celebrent magni praeconia reais. Nor. t. ii. p. 144.

31 Or. I, p. 1; Or. 9, pp. 152-154, &c.

32 Carm. 5 and 60.

33 Ib. 147

34 Carm. 59.

35 EP. 196, P. 894.

36 EP. 189.

(Taken from Vol. II of "The Lives or the Fathers, Martyrs and Other Principal Saints" by the Rev. Alban Butler.)

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3 posted on 01/01/2006 10:07:54 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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Also celebrating their feast today ...

St. Macarius of Alexandria

St. Macarius of Alexandria, also known as Alexandria the Younger, lived in the fourth century in Egypt. Not only was he a very successful confectioner, he was also a very devout Christian. Because he desired to serve God with his whole being, he gave up his business to become a monk. He spent the last sixty years of his life living as a hermit. He built cells in the deserts of Skete and Nitria, however most of his time was spent in the area called the Cells. He was ordained and lived a life of austerity. St. Macarius became known for all the miracles that happened around him or through his prayers. He was sent into exile to an island in the Nile along with Macarius the Elder. He was eventually set free. There is a constitution named after him, which he wrote for the monastery in Nitria. Some of the rules in his constitution were adopted by St. Jerome for his monastery.

4 posted on 01/02/2006 5:47:09 AM PST by NYer (Discover the beauty of the Eastern Catholic Churches - freepmail me for more information.)
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To: All

BTTT on the Memorial of St. Gregory Nazianzen on January 2, 2006!

5 posted on 01/02/2006 9:42:15 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation


First Tone

The pastoral flute of your theology conquered the trumpets of orators. For it called upon the depths of the Spirit and you were enriched with the beauty of words. Intercede to Christ our God, O Father Gregory, that our souls may be saved.


Third Tone

O Glorious One, you dispelled the complexities of orators with the words of your theology. You have adorned the Church with the vesture of Orthodoxy woven from on high. Clothed in this, the Church now cries out to your children, with us, "Hail Father, the consummate theological mind."

In Orthodoxy his feast is celebrated on January 25th. Today, January 2nd, is the feast day of +Sylvester, Pope of Rome and the much beloved +Seraphim of Sarov.

6 posted on 01/02/2006 10:06:36 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: All
Reading A sermon by St Gregory Nazianzen
Two bodies, but a single spirit
Basil and I were both in Athens. We had come, like streams of a river, from the same source in our native land, had separated from each other in pursuit of learning, and were now united again as if by plan, for God so arranged it.
I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay.
What was the outcome? Almost alone of those who had come to Athens to study he was exempted from the customary ceremonies of initiation for he was held in higher honour than his status as a first-year student seemed to warrant.
Such was the prelude to our friendship, the kindling of that flame that was to bind us together. In this way we began to feel affection for each other. When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognised that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.
The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.
We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that everything is contained in everything, yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.
Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.
Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.

7 posted on 01/02/2007 9:13:16 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: All
American Catholic’s Saint of the Day

January 2
St. Gregory Nazianzen

After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil’s invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory’s father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians. An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.

When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend’s home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city, but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.

His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.”


It may be small comfort, but post-Vatican II turmoil in the Church is a mild storm compared to the devastation caused by the Arian heresy, a trauma the Church has never forgotten. Christ did not promise the kind of peace we would love to have—no problems, no opposition, no pain. In one way or another, holiness is always the way of the cross.


“God accepts our desires as though they were a great value. He longs ardently for us to desire and love him. He accepts our petitions for benefits as though we were doing him a favor. His joy in giving is greater than ours in receiving. So let us not be apathetic in our asking, nor set too narrow bounds to our requests; nor ask for frivolous things unworthy of God’s greatness.”

8 posted on 01/02/2007 9:24:02 AM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Kolokotronis
Saints Basil the Great & regory Nazianzen, Bishops & Doctors of the Church

Saints Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen,
Bishops & Doctors of the Church

January 2nd

Unknown Artist
Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus,
Byzantine fresco

St. Basil (329-379) was a brilliant student born of a Christian family in Caesarea, Cappadocia (Turkey). For some years, he followed the monastic way of life. He vigorously fought the arian heresy. He become Archbishop of Caesarea in 370. Monks of the Eastern Church today still follow the monastic rules which he se down.

St. Gregory (329-389) was also from Cappadocia. A friend of St. Basil, he too followed the monastic way of life for some years. In 381 he became Archbishop of Constantinople. It was during this period the Arian heresy was at it height. He was called "The Theologian" because of his great learning and talent for oratory.

Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003

God our Father,
You inspired the Church
with the example and teaching of Your saints Basil and Gregory.
In humility may we come to know Your truth
and put it into action with faith and love.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 23:8-12
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Related page on the Vatican Website: Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Wednesday, July 4, 2007, Saint Basil (part 1) | Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Wednesday, August 1, 2007, Saint Basil (part 2) | Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Wednesday, August 8, 2007, Saint Gregory Nazianzen (part 1) | Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Wednesday, August 22, 2007, Gregory Nazianzen (part 2)

9 posted on 01/02/2010 10:10:57 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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