And our Doctor of the Church today is St. Gregory of Nazianzen.
St Gregory Nazianzen was born around 329 and died around 389. He was a brilliant priest, and is some times called ‘The Theologian’ or ‘The Christian Demosthenes'. (Demosthenes was a Greek orator and statesman known for his learning and oratory skills.) We celebrate Nazianzen’s feast day on January 2.
Gregory was born into a noble family and was pulled very strongly by the monastic life. However, the Lord had other plans. He was ordained a priest and in 379 was called to Constantinople to lead a small group of Catholics who were faithful to the Nicene Creed. Gregory became famous for the homilies preached against the Arian that were collected into a work called Theologian Orations. Pope Benedict XVI says that Gregory is a perfect example for the intersection between having a intellectual understanding of our Faith and our growing communion with God and our pursuit of holiness. Benedict writes eloquently about this: “[Nazianzen’s] was of thinking theology was not merely human reflection, or, even less, only a fruit of complicated speculation, but rather sprang from a life of prayer and holiness, from a persevering dialogue with God…In the silence of contemplation, interspersed with wonder at the marvels of the mystery revealed, his soul was engrossed in beauty and divine glory” (Church Fathers, Vol. 1).
Always eloquent in his preaching, Nazianzen had a great way of speaking plainly and profoundly. Here’s a great quotation from him: “Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves…but our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.” Amen, St. Gregory- could not have said it better!
St. Gregory Nazianzen had a great love for Truth, beauty and for the care of those entrusted to him. We ask him to pray for us. May we caught up into the great mysteries of our faith: we ask the Lord to reveal them to us, draw us up into them, and with His grace, strive to imitate them. Amen.