Gregory Nazianzen: We must now pass through the first veil and approach the second, turning our eyes toward the Holy of Holies Tuesday, Mar 22 2016 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenWe are soon going to share in the Passover, and although we still do so only in a symbolic way, the symbolism already has more clarity than it possessed in former times, because under the Law the Passover was, if I may dare to say so, only a symbol of a symbol.

Before long, however, when the Word drinks the new wine with us in the kingdom of his Father, we shall be keeping the Passover in a yet more perfect way, and with deeper understanding.

He will then reveal to us and make clear what he has so far only partially disclosed. For this wine, so familiar to us now, is eternally new.

It is for us to learn what this drinking is, and for him to teach us. He has to communicate this knowledge to his disciples, because teaching is food, even for the teacher.

So let us take our part in the Passover prescribed by the Law, not in a literal way, but according to the teaching of the Gospel; not in an imperfect way, but perfectly; not only for a time, but eternally.

Let us regard as our home the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly one; the city glorified by angels, not the one laid waste by armies.

We are not required to sacrifice young bulls or rams, beasts with horns and hoofs that are more dead than alive and devoid of feeling; but instead, let us join the choirs of angels in offering God upon his heavenly altar a sacrifice of praise.

We must now pass through the first veil and approach the second, turning our eyes toward the Holy of Holies.

I will say more: we must sacrifice ourselves to God, each day and in everything we do, accepting all that happens to us for the sake of the Word, imitating his Passion by our sufferings, and honouring his blood by shedding our own. We must be ready to be crucified.

If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your Cross and follow Christ. If you are crucified beside him like one of the thieves, now like the good thief acknowledge your God. For your sake, and because of your sin, Christ himself was regarded as a sinner; for his sake, therefore, you must cease to sin.

Worship him who was hung on the Cross because of you, even if you are hanging there yourself. Derive some benefit from the very shame; pur­chase salvation with your death. Enter paradise with Jesus, and discover how far you have fallen….

If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered his crucifixion, and ask for Christ’s body: make your own the ex­piation for the sins of the whole world.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 45:23-24 (PG 36:653-656); from the Monastic Office of Vigils, Monday of the Second Week in Lent, Year 2.

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Gregory Nazianzen: “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do” Tuesday, Jan 26 2016 

St.-Gregory-Nazianzen“The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do” (John 5:19).

“All things that the Father hath are the Son’s” (John 16:15), and on the other hand, all that belongs to the Son is the Father’s.

Nothing then is peculiar, because all things are in common.  For Their Being itself is common and equal, even though the Son receive it from the Father.

It is in respect of this that it is said “I live by the Father” (John 6:57); not as though His Life and Being were kept together by the Father, but because He has His Being from Him beyond all time, and beyond all cause.

But how does He see the Father doing, and do likewise?

Is it like those who copy pictures and letters, because they cannot attain the truth unless by looking at the original, and being led by the hand by it?

But how shall Wisdom stand in need of a teacher, or be incapable of acting unless taught?

And in what sense does the Father “do” in the present or in the past?  Did He make another world before this one, or is He going to make a world to come?  And did the Son look at that and make this?  Or will He look at the other, and make one like it?

[…]  He cleanses lepers, and delivers men from evil spirits, and diseases, and quickens the dead, and walks upon the sea, and does all His other works. But in what case, or when did the Father do these acts before Him?

Is it not clear that the Father impressed the ideas of these same actions, and the Word brings them to pass, yet not in slavish or unskilful fashion, but with full knowledge and in a masterly way, or, to speak more properly, like the Father?

For in this sense I understand the words that whatsoever is done by the Father, these things doeth the Son likewise – not, that is, because of the likeness of the things done, but in respect of the authority.

This might well also be the meaning of the passage which says that the Father worketh hitherto and the Son also (John 5:17); and not only so but it refers also to the government and preservation of the things which He has made, as is shown by the passage which says that “He maketh His angels spirits” (Psalm 103. 4-5, LXX) and that “the earth is founded upon its steadfastness” (though once for all these things were fixed and made) and that the thunder is made firm and the wind created (cf. Amos 4:13).

Of all these things the Word was given once, but the action is continuous even now.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 11 (slightly adapted).

Gregory Nazianzen: The Holy Day of the Lights, to which we have come… Monday, Jan 4 2016 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenThe Holy Day of the Lights,

to which we have come,

and which we are celebrating today,

has for its origin the Baptism of my Christ,

the True Light That lightens every man that comes into the world (John 1:9)

and effects my purification,

and assists that light which we received from the beginning from Him from above,

but which we darkened and confused by sin.

Therefore listen to the Voice of God, which sounds so exceeding clearly to me, who am both disciple and master of these mysteries, as would to God it may sound to you; I Am the Light of the World (John 8:12).

Therefore approach ye to Him and be enlightened, and let not your faces be ashamed, being signed with the true Light.

It is a season of new birth (John 3:3); let us be born again.

It is a time of reformation; let us receive again the first Adam.

Let us not remain what we are, but let us become what we once were.

The Light shines in darkness, in this life and in the flesh, and is chased by the darkness, but is not overtaken by it (John 1:5)—

—I mean the adverse power leaping up in its shamelessness against the visible Adam, but encountering God and being defeated—

—in order that we, putting away the darkness, may draw near to the Light, and may then become perfect Light, the children of perfect Light.

See the grace of this Day; see the power of this mystery.

[…] To us grace has been given to flee from superstitious error and to be joined to the truth and to serve the living and true God, and to rise above creation, passing by all that is subject to time and to first motion.

So let us look at and reason upon God and things divine in a manner corresponding to this Grace given us.

But let us begin our discussion of them from the most fitting point. And the most fitting is, as Solomon laid down for us; us; The beginning of wisdom, he says, is to get wisdom (Proverbs 4:7).

And what this is he tells us; the beginning of wisdom is fear.

For we must not begin with contemplation and leave off with fear (for an unbridled contemplation would perhaps push us over a precipice), but we must be grounded and purified and so to say made light by fear, and thus be raised to the height.

For where fear is there is keeping of commandments;

and where there is keeping of commandments there is purifying of the flesh, that cloud which covers the soul and suffers it not to see the Divine Ray.

And where there is purifying there is Illumination;

and Illumination is the satisfying of desire to those who long for the greatest things, or the Greatest Thing, or That Which surpasses all greatness.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 39 (On the Holy Lights), 1, 2, 8.

Gregory Nazianzen: What greater destiny can befall man’s humility than that he should be intermingled with God? Thursday, Dec 10 2015 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenWhat greater destiny can befall man’s humility than that he should be intermingled with God, and by this intermingling should be deified (2 Peter 1:4),

and that we should be so visited by the Dayspring from on high (Luke 1:78) that even that Holy Thing that should be born should be called the Son of the Highest,

and that there should be bestowed upon Him a Name which is above every name (Phil. 2:9)? —and what else can this be than God? —

and that every knee should bow to Him That was made of no reputation for us,

and That mingled the Form of God with the form of a servant,

and that all the House of Israel should know that God hath made Him both Lord and Christ? (Acts 2:36).

For all this was done by the action of the Begotten, and by the good pleasure of Him That begat Him.

[…]  “He must reign” (1 Cor. 15:35) till such and such a time…and “be received by heaven until the time of restitution” (Acts 3:21) and “have the seat at the Right Hand until the overthrow of His enemies” (Psalm 109:1).

But after this?  Must He cease to be King, or be removed from Heaven?  Why, who shall make Him cease, or for what cause?

[…] You have heard that of His Kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:33).

You must understand that “until” is not always exclusive of that which comes after, but asserts up to that time, without denying what comes after it.

To take a single instance—how else would you understand “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world?” (Matt. 27:20).  Does it mean that He will no longer be so afterwards.

[…] He is said to reign in one sense as the Almighty King, both of the willing and the unwilling; but in another as producing in us submission, and placing us under His Kingship as willingly acknowledging His Sovereignty.

Of His Kingdom, considered in the former sense, there shall be no end.  But in the second sense, what end will there be?

His taking us as His servants, on our entrance into a state of salvation.

For what need is there to work submission in us when we have already submitted?  After which He arises to judge the earth, and to separate the saved from the lost.

After that He is to stand as God in the midst of gods (Psalm 81:1), that is, of the saved, distinguishing and deciding of what honour and of what mansion each is worthy.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 3-4 (slightly adapted).

Gregory Nazianzen: Guided through the disorder of the things which are seen and shaken to the things which stand firm and are not moved Friday, Nov 6 2015 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenAnd what in these short days will be our gain, save that after it has been ours to see, or suffer, or perchance even to do, more ill, we must discharge the common and inexorable tribute to the law of nature, by following some, preceding others, to the tomb.

[…] Such, my brethren, is our existence, who live this transient life, such our pastime upon earth:  we come into existence out of non-existence, and after existing are dissolved.

We are unsubstantial dreams, impalpable visions (Job 20:8), like the flight of a passing bird, like a ship leaving no track upon the sea (Wisd. 5:10), a speck of dust, a vapour, an early dew, a flower that quickly blooms, and quickly fades.

As for man his days are as grass, as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth (Ps. C102/103:15).  Well hath inspired David discoursed of our frailty, and again in these words, “Let me know the shortness of my days;” and he defines the days of man as “of a span long” (Ps. 38/39:5).

[…]  I have seen all things (Eccles. 1:14), says the preacher, I have reviewed in thought all human things, wealth, pleasure, power, unstable glory, wisdom which evades us rather than is won; then pleasure again, wisdom again, often revolving the same objects, the pleasures of appetite, orchards, numbers of slaves, store of wealth, serving men and serving maids, singing men and singing women, arms, spearmen, subject nations, collected tributes, the pride of kings, all the necessaries and superfluities of life, in which I surpassed all the kings that were before me.

And what does he say after all these things?  Vanity of vanities (Eccles. 12:8), all is vanity and vexation of spirit, possibly meaning some unreasoning longing of the soul, and distraction of man condemned to this from the original fall. But hear, he says, the conclusion of the whole matter: “Fear God” (Eccles. 12:13).

This is his stay in his perplexity, and this is thy only gain from life here below, to be guided through the disorder of the things which are seen (2 Cor. 4:18), and shaken, to the things which stand firm and are not moved (Heb. 12:27).

Let us not then mourn Cæsarius but ourselves, knowing what evils he has escaped to which we are left behind, and what treasure we shall lay up, unless, earnestly cleaving unto God and outstripping transitory things, we press towards the life above, deserting the earth while we are still upon the earth, and earnestly following the spirit which bears us upward.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 7, 17-19 (Panegyric on His Brother S. Cæsarius).

Gregory Nazianzen: These are the titles of the Son – walk through them that you may become a god, ascending from below Monday, Aug 24 2015 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenContinued from here….

These names are still common to Him Who is above us, and to Him Who came for our sake.

But others are peculiarly our own, and belong to that nature which He assumed.

So He is called Man—

—not only that through His Body He may be apprehended by embodied creatures, whereas otherwise this would be impossible because of His incomprehensible nature;

—but also that by Himself He may sanctify humanity, and be as it were a leaven to the whole lump;

—and by uniting to Himself that which was condemned may release it from all condemnation, becoming for all men all things that we are, except sin;

—body, soul, mind and all through which death reaches,

—and thus He became Man, who is the combination of all these;

—God in visible form, because He retained that which is perceived by mind alone.

He is Son of Man, both on account of Adam, and of the Virgin from Whom He came;

—from the one as a forefather, from the other as His Mother, both in accordance with the law of generation, and apart from it.

He is Christ, because of His Godhead;

—for this is the Anointing of His Manhood, and does not, as is the case with all other Anointed Ones, sanctify by its action, but by the Presence in His Fulness of the Anointing One;

—the effect of which is that That which anoints is called Man, and makes that which is anointed God.

He is The Way, because He leads us through Himself.

He is the Door, as letting us in.

He is the Shepherd, as making us dwell in a place of green pastures (Psalm 22[23]:2),

—and bringing us up by waters of rest, and leading us there, and protecting us from wild beasts, converting the erring,

—bringing back that which was lost, binding up that which was broken, guarding the strong, and bringing them together in the fold beyond, with words of pastoral knowledge.

He is he Sheep, as the Victim.

He is the Lamb, as being perfect.

He is the High Priest, as the Offerer;

—Melchisedec, as without mother in that Nature which is above us, and without father in ours;

—and without genealogy above (for who, it says, shall declare His generation?);

—and moreover, as King of Salem, which means Peace, and King of Righteousness, and as receiving tithes from Patriarchs, when they prevail over powers of evil.

They are the titles of the Son.

Walk through them, those that are lofty in a godlike manner;

—those that belong to the body in a manner suitable to them;

—or rather, altogether in a godlike manner, that you may become a god, ascending from below, for His sake Who came down from on high for ours.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 21 (slightly adapted).

Gregory Nazianzen: The Names of the Son Monday, Jun 29 2015 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenContinued from here….

He is also called Wisdom, as the Knowledge of things divine and human.

For how is it possible that He Who made all things should be ignorant of the reasons of what He has made?

And Power, as the Sustainer of all created things, and the Furnisher to them of power to keep themselves together.

And Truth, as being in nature One and not many (for truth is one and falsehood is manifold), and as the pure Seal of the Father and His most unerring Impress.

And the Image as of one substance with Him, and because He is of the Father, and not the Father of Him.

For this is of the Nature of an Image, to be the reproduction of its Archetype, and of that whose name it bears; only that there is more here.

For in ordinary language an image is a motionless representation of that which has motion; but in this case it is the living reproduction of the Living One, and is more exactly like than was Seth to Adam (Gen. 5:3), or any son to his father.

For such is the nature of simple Existences, that it is not correct to say of them that they are Like in one particular and Unlike in another; but they are a complete resemblance, and should rather be called Identical than Like.

Moreover he is called Light as being the Brightness of souls cleansed by word and life.  For if ignorance and sin be darkness, knowledge and a godly life will be Light.…

And He is called Life, because He is Light, and is the constituting and creating Power of every reasonable soul.

For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), according to the double power of that Breathing into us; for we were all inspired by Him with breath  (Gen. 2:7), and as many of us as were capable of it, and in so far as we open the mouth of our mind, with God the Holy Ghost.

He is Righteousness, because He distributes according to that which we deserve, and is a righteous Arbiter both for those who are under the Law and for those who are under Grace, for soul and body, so that the former should rule, and the latter obey, and the higher have supremacy over the lower; that the worse may not rise in rebellion against the better.

He is Sanctification, as being Purity, that the pure may be contained by Purity.

And Redemption, because He sets us free, who were held captive under sin, giving Himself a Ransom for us, the Sacrifice to make expiation for the world.

And Resurrection, because He raises up from hence, and brings to life again us, who were slain by sin.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 20.

Gregory Nazianzen: The Divine Names Saturday, Jun 13 2015 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenContinued from here….

Of the other titles, some are evidently names of His Authority, others of His Government of the world, and of this viewed under a twofold aspect, the one before the other in the Incarnation.

For instance the Almighty, the King of Glory, or of The Ages, or of The Powers, or of The Beloved, or of Kings.

Or again the Lord of Sabaoth, that is of Hosts, or of Powers, or of Lords; these are clearly titles belonging to His Authority.

But the God either of Salvation or of Vengeance, or of Peace, or of Righteousness; or of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of all the spiritual Israel that sees God,—these belong to His Government.

We are governed by these three things: the fear of punishment, the hope of salvation and of glory besides, and the practice of the virtues by which these are attained.

The Name of the God of Vengeance governs fear, and that of the God of Salvation our hope, and that of the God of Virtues our practice.

Accordingly, whoever attains to any of these may, as carrying God in himself, press on yet more unto perfection, and to that affinity which arises out of virtues.

Now these are Names common to the Godhead, but the Proper Name of the Unoriginate is Father, and that of the unoriginately Begotten is Son, and that of the unbegottenly Proceeding or going forth is The Holy Ghost.

Let us proceed then to the Names of the Son, which were our starting point in this part of our argument.

In my opinion He is called Son because He is identical with the Father in Essence; and not only for this reason, but also because He is Of Him.

And He is called Only-Begotten, not because He is the only Son and of the Father alone, and only a Son; but also because the manner of His Sonship is peculiar to Himself and not shared by bodies.

And He is called the Word, because He is related to the Father as Word to Mind; not only on account of His passionless Generation, but also because of the Union, and of His declaratory function.

Perhaps too this relation might be compared to that between the Definition and the Thing defined since this also is called Λόγος.

For, it says, he who has mental perception of the Son…has also perceived the Father; and the Son is a concise demonstration and easy setting forth of the Father’s Nature.

For everything that is begotten is a silent word of him that begat it.  And if anyone should say that this Name was given Him because He exists in all things that are, he would not be wrong.

For what is there that is established in existence except by the Word?

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 19-20 (slightly adapted).

Gregory Nazianzen: The Deity cannot be expressed in words Tuesday, May 26 2015 

St.-Gregory-NazianzenThe Deity cannot be expressed in words.

And this is proved to us, not only by argument, but by the wisest and most ancient of the Hebrews, so far as they have given us reason for conjecture.

For they appropriated certain characters to the honour of the Deity, and would not even allow the name of anything inferior to God to be written with the same letters as that of God.

Because to their minds it was improper that the Deity should even to that extent admit any of His creatures to a share with Himself.

How then could they have admitted that the invisible and separate Nature can be explained by divisible words?

For neither has any one yet breathed the whole air, nor has any mind entirely comprehended, or speech exhaustively contained the Being of God.

But we sketch Him by His Attributes, and so obtain a certain faint and feeble and partial idea concerning Him.

And our best Theologian is he who has, not indeed discovered the whole, for our present chain does not allow of our seeing the whole.

Our best Theologian is he who has conceived of Him to a greater extent than another, and gathered in himself more of the Likeness or adumbration of the Truth, or whatever we may call it.

As far then as we can reach, He Who Is, and God, are the special names of His Essence, and of these especially He Who Is:

not only because when He spake to Moses in the mount, and Moses asked what His Name was, this was what He called Himself, bidding him say to the people “I Am hath sent me” (Exod. I3:14), but also because we find that this Name is the more strictly appropriate.

For the Name Θεός (God), even if, as those who are skilful in these matters say, it were derived from Θέειν (to run) or from Αἴθειν (to blaze), from continual motion, and because He consumes evil conditions of things – from which fact He is also called A Consuming Fire (Deut. 4:24) – would still be one of the Relative Names, and not an Absolute one.

This is also the case with Lord, which also is called a name of God.  I am the Lord Thy God, He says, that is My name  (Isa. 42:8); and, The Lord is His name  (Amos 9:6).

But we are enquiring into a Nature Whose Being is absolute and not into Being bound up with something else.

But Being is in its proper sense peculiar to God, and belongs to Him entirely, and is not limited or cut short by any Before or After, for indeed in him there is no past or future.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 17-18 (slightly adapted).

Gregory Nazianzen: In Himself He exhausted the bad, as fire does wax, or as the sun does the mists of earth Friday, May 1 2015 

St.-Gregory-Nazianzen“He learnt obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8), and to His “strong crying and tears,” and His “Entreaties,” and His “being heard,” and His” Reverence,” all of which He wonderfully wrought out, like a drama whose plot was devised on our behalf.

For in His character of the Word He was neither obedient nor disobedient.  For such expressions belong to servants, and inferiors, and the one applies to the better sort of them, while the other belongs to those who deserve punishment.

But, in the character of the Form of a Servant, He condescends to His fellow servants, nay, to His servants, and takes upon Him a strange form, bearing all me and mine in Himself, that in Himself He may exhaust the bad, as fire does wax, or as the sun does the mists of earth; and that I may partake of His nature by the blending.

Thus He honours obedience by His action, and proves it experimentally by His Passion.  For to possess the disposition is not enough, just as it would not be enough for us, unless we also proved it by our acts; for action is the proof of disposition.

And perhaps it would not be wrong to assume this also, that by the art of His love for man He gauges our obedience, and measures all by comparison with His own Sufferings, so that He may know our condition by His own, and how much is demanded of us, and how much we yield, taking into the account, along with our environment, our weakness also.

For if the Light shining through the veil upon the darkness, that is upon this life, was persecuted by the other darkness (I mean, the Evil One and the Tempter), how much more will the darkness be persecuted, as being weaker than it?

And what marvel is it, that though He entirely escaped, we have been, at any rate in part, overtaken?  For it is a more wonderful thing that He should have been chased than that we should have been captured;—at least to the minds of all who reason aright on the subject.

I will add yet another passage to those I have mentioned, because I think that it clearly tends to the same sense.  I mean “In that He hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted” (Heb. 2:18).

But God will be all in all in the time of restitution…when we shall be no longer divided (as we now are by movements and passions), and containing nothing at all of God, or very little, but shall be entirely like.

Gregory Nazianzen (c.330-390): Oration 30, 6.

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