Skip to comments.Doctors of the Church - St. Gregory of Nazianzen
Posted on 03/11/2007 4:16:45 PM PDT by NYer
|St. Gregory of Nazianzen: His Life and Writings
St. Gregory of Nazianzen was the best friend of St. Basil the Great. After studying together in Athens, they returned to their native Cappadocia (now Eastern Turkey) to serve the Lord. It was during the time of the Arian heresy which contested the full divinity of Christ, and orthodox bishops were sorely needed who could teach the true doctrine of the Church with clarity and depth. Gregory, who admirably met these requirements, was made the bishop of the small town of Nazianzen, but later was elevated to the highest ecclesiastical see after Rome, becoming the Patriarch of Constantinople. As such, he presided over the First Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381 AD which completed the creed that we commonly call the Nicene Creed, recited in Sunday worship by Catholics and Orthodox Christians. St. Gregory's teaching was so profound and accurate that he is one of the few teachers in the history of the Church known as "the theologian."
As of 2005, there are thirty-three Doctors of the Church who hail from all ages of the Churchs history. Of these, three are women (Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux) and twenty-four are quoted in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (The eight who are not quoted are Saints Ephraem, Isidore, the Venerable Bede, Albert the Great, Anthony of Padua, Peter Canisius, Robert Bellarmine, and Lawrence of Brindisi).
Apolytikion in the 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.
Kontakion in the 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."
This great Father and Teacher of the Church was born in 329 in Arianzus, a village of the second district of Cappadocia, not far from Nazianzus. His father, who later became Bishop of Nazianzus, was named Gregory (commemorated Jan. 1), and his mother was named Nonna (Aug. 5); both are among the Saints, and so are his brother Caesarius (Mar. 9) and his sister Gorgona (Feb. 23). At first he studied in Caesarea of Palestine, then in Alexandria, and finally in Athens. As he was sailing from Alexandria to Athens, a violent sea storm put in peril not only his life but also his salvation, since he had not yet been baptized. With tears and fervour he besought God to spare him, vowing to dedicate his whole self to Him, and the tempest gave way to calm. At Athens Saint Gregory was later joined by Saint Basil the Great, whom he already knew; but now their acquaintanceship grew into a lifelong brotherly love. Another fellow student of theirs in Athens was the young Prince Julian, who later as Emperor was called the Apostate because he denied Christ and did all in his power to restore paganism. Even in Athens, before Julian had thrown off the mask of piety; Saint Gregory saw what an unsettled mind he had, and said, "What an evil the Roman State is nourishing" (Orat. V, 24, PG 35:693).
After their studies at Athens, Gregory became Basil's fellow ascetic, living the monastic life together with him for a time in the hermitages of Pontus. His father ordained him presbyter of the Church of Nazianzus, and Saint Basil consecrated him Bishop of Sasima (or Zansima), which was in the archdiocese of Caesarea. This consecration was a source of great sorrow to Gregory, and a cause of misunderstanding between him and Basil; but his love for Basil remained unchanged, as can be plainly seen from his Funeral Oration on Saint Basil (Orat. XLIII).
About the Year 379, Saint Gregory came to the assistance of the Church of Constantinople, which had already been troubled for forty years by the Arians; by his supremely wise words and many labours he freed it from the corruption of heresy, and was elected Archbishop of that city by the Second Ecumenical Council, which assembled there in 381, and condemned Macedonius, Archbishop of Constantinople, the enemy of the Holy Spirit. When Saint Gregory came to Constantinople, the Arians had taken all the churches and he was forced to serve in a house chapel dedicated to Saint Anastasia the Martyr. From there he began to preach his famous five sermons on the Trinity, called the Triadica. When he left Constantinople two years later, the Arians did not have one church left to them in the city. Saint Meletius of Antioch (see Feb. 12), who was presiding over the Second Ecumenical Council, died in the course of it, and Saint Gregory was chosen in his stead; there he distinguished himself in his expositions of dogmatic theology.
Having governed the Church until 382, he delivered his farewell speech - the Syntacterion, in which he demonstrated the Divinity of the Son - before 150 bishops and the Emperor Theodosius the Great; in this speech he requested, and received from all, permission to retire from the see of Constantinople. He returned to Nazianzus, where he lived to the end of his life, and reposed in the Lord in 391, having lived some sixty-two years.
His extant writings, both prose and poems in every type of metre, demonstrate his lofty eloquence and his wondrous breadth of learning. In the beauty of his writings, he is considered to have surpassed the Greek writers of antiquity, and because of his God-inspired theological thought, he received the surname "Theologian." Although he is sometimes called Gregory of Nazianzus, this title belongs properly to his father; he himself is known by the Church only as Gregory the Theologian. He is especially called "Trinitarian Theologian," since in virtually every homily he refers to the Trinity and the one essence and nature of the Godhead. Hence, Alexius Anthorus dedicated the following verses to him:
Like an unwandering star beaming with splendour,
Thou bringest us by mystic teachings, O Father,
To the Trinity's sunlike illumination,
O mouth breathing with fire, Gregory most mighty.
The Orthodox Church celebrates his feast on January 25.
Saint Gregory Nazianzus is the Doctor of Theologians. His profound words are: God accepts our desires as though they were a great value. God longs ardently for us to desire and love the Supreme Being who is always our Father, Brother and Lover.
St Gregory Nazianzus, 330-390. Doctor of Theologians. Feast Jan 2nd.
Saints Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen,
Bishops & Doctors of the Church
Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus,
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)
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