In the East, we celebrate Gregory the Theologian, also called Gregory of Nazianzus on January 25th. (He died on the 25th of January in 390 A.D.). Born in Cappadocia around 329 A.D., his Christian family educated the saint in both Christian and classical knowledge. Also, Gregory followed the footsteps of his father and became a priest (and latter, Bishop of Nazianzus). Although no writings by him on scripture survive today, St. Jerome heard Father Gregory’s and this shaped Jerome’s understanding of the Greek scriptures.
Saint Gregory the Theologian is most known for shaping Trinitarian thought in both the East and the West. His study and writings on the Trinity still hold a valuable place on those who write about the nature of the Trinity today.
Speaking of the Trinity, Gregory the Theologian belongs to three of the churches’ own metaphorical trinities of Church Fathers. First of all, Gregory of Nazianzus is one of only three men honoured with the title “theologian” in the East: John the Theologian and Symeon the Theologian. Second, Gregory is one of the Three Holy Hierarchs, together with St. John Chrysostom and Basil the Great. Finally, the three Cappadocian Fathers are Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, and Basil’s brother Gregory of Nyssa. These brothers were contemporaries of the Theologian, and friends according to tradition. In the 4th Century, these saints fought the widespread Arianism of their time.
Troparion: (tone 1)
Like a shepherds flute, O Father Gregory, your theology vanquished the trumpets of orators. For searching the depths of the spirit, beauty of speech increases in you. Pray to Christ our God for the salvation of our souls.
Kontakion: (tone 3)
O Glorious saint, your tongue, well versed in theology, loosed the webs of the vain philosophers. You adorned the Church with a robe of true belief, woven from on high. Wearing it he cries out with us, your children: Rejoice, O Father, highest mind of theology.
Prokeimenon: (tone 1)
My mouth shall speak wisdom, and the meditation of my heart understanding.
Verse: Hear these things all you nations, and give ear all you peoples.
Celebrating St. Gregory
Gregory the Theologian’s father converted to Christianity before the saint was born. Even so, this event had a major effect on Gregory the Theologian’s life. To celebrate this day, pray for the conversion of any family members you have who are not yet experiencing the fullness of truth in the church.
Since Gregory of Nazianzus is known for his Trinitarian theology, spend some of his feast day meditating on the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity.
For further meditation of the Trinity, consider looking at our article on Rublev’s icon. Children could colour this icon, and the icon of the Trinity could hold a prominent place in your icon corners together with St. Gregory, should you have both icons available!
The Byzantine Life
Thank you for checking out this week’s article. If you haven’t already, you can read about the feast of the Three Holy Heirarchs, coming up on January 30th.
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