Fathers and Doctors of the Church: May 2011 Archives

Saint Gregory Nazianzen

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Gregory Nazianzen.jpg

In the traditional calendar, today's feast of Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop and Doctor of the Church. Some years ago, when my father and mother were visiting me in Rome, we met in Saint Peter's Basilica so that I could offer Holy Mass for them there. The altars for "private Masses" are assigned according to availability; to my delight, the sacristan sent me to offer Holy Mass at the altar of Saint Gregory Nazianzen. The body of the saint lies beneath the altar. Concerning today's saint, Dom Guéranger writes in his Liturgical Year:

Side by side with Athanasius, a second Doctor of the Church comes forward, at this glad Season, offering to the Risen Jesus the tribute of his learning and eloquence. It is Gregory of Nazianzum, the friend of Basil; the great Orator; the admirable Poet, whose style combines energy of thought with a remarkable richness and ease of expression; the one among all the Gregories who has merited and received the glorious name of Theologian, on account of the soundness of his teachings, the sublimity of his ideas, and the magnificence of his diction.

And, here, for your meditation, is an excerpt of a catechetical sermon of Saint Gregory Nazianzen on the Most Holy Trinity:

Hold Fast to the Confession of the Trinity

Before all else, I beg you, keep the good deposit of the faith, by which I live and work; with which I endure all that is so distressful and despise all delights; that is, hold fast to the confession of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Three Infinite Ones in Unity

This I commit unto you today; with this I will baptize you and make you grow. This I give you to share, and to defend all your life, the one Godhead and power, found in the Three in unity, and comprising the Three separately, not unequal in substance or nature, neither increased nor diminished by superiorities or inferiorities; in every respect equal, in every respect the same; just as the beauty and the greatness of the heavens is one. This is the infinite conjunction of three infinite Ones, each is God when considered in Himself; as the Father, so the Son; as the Son, so the Holy Spirit.

Illumined by the Splendour of the Three

No sooner do I conceive of the One than I am illumined by the splendour of the Three; no sooner do I distinguish them than I am carried back to the One. When I think of any One of the Three I think of him as the Whole, and my eyes are filled, and the greater part of what I am thinking of escapes me. I cannot grasp the greatness of that One so as to attribute a greater greatness to the Rest. When I contemplate the Three together, I see but one torch, and cannot divide or measure out the Undivided Light.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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