Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople

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The Pharisees said to Jesus, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Why do I speak to you at all? I have much to say about you and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” They did not understand that he was speaking to them about the Father. So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me. And the one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him.” As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 8:25–32

 

Yesterday was the Feast day for St Gregory of Nazianzus, Bishop of Constantinople. He was one of the Gregorys among the Cappadocian fathers. To this Gregory, we owe our understandings, and some would say misunderstandings, of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Gregory was the one who gave us more precise language with which to understand the three co-eternal beings in the Trinity.

 

Gregory’s story is filled with other imposing their wishes upon him. He seems to have had a lot of ministry foisted on him against his will. Closer to the end of his life, he seemed to be happier and more fulfilled by ministry, preaching, and teaching. His whole life may have been a culmination of learning the truth about himself and about God, and maybe that truth was what set him free to be joyful in his calling.

 

As I prepared to celebrate Gregory’s life in chapel yesterday, I wondered about the small acts of courage it took for him to stand in opposition to his father and his best friend. Those acts pulled him from one to the other throughout most of his life. Yet, he seems to have stayed true to himself, even as he was swayed from one to the other. In that truth of who he was, he thrived once they had died and he had done the hard work of grieving the loss of them in his life. In that truth of who he was, he became known as “Theologian,” “One of the three Holy Hierarchs,” and “Doctor of the Church.”

 

 

 

 

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Alan Herendich
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The commemoration of Gregory of Nazianzus has been moved to January 2 in the Church calendar.

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