I have left in a duplicate on purpose for some of you know the old numbering. It may help with the confusion as to the series.
This series grew "like Topsy".
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Part 88: DoC: Gregory Nazianzus and Perfection
If it had been permitted to Paul to utter what the Third Heaven... contained, and his own advance, or ascension, or assumption thither, perhaps we should know something more about God's Nature, if this was the mystery of the rapture. But since it was ineffable, we too will honour it by silence. Thus much we will hear Paul say about it, that we know in part and we prophesy in part.... This and the like to this are the confessions of one who is not rude in knowledge,...who threatens to give proof of Christ speaking in him, the great doctor and champion of the truth. Wherefore he estimates all knowledge on earth only as through a glass darkly,... as taking its stand upon little images of the truth. Now, unless I appear to anyone too careful, and over anxious about the examination of this matter, perhaps it was of this and nothing else that the Word Himself intimated that there were things which could not now be borne, but which should be borne and cleared up hereafter,' and which John the Forerunner of the Word and great Voice of the Truth declared even the whole world could not contain. Found here
Gregory of Nazianzus is considered one of the greatest orators of the Church. He, like the Doctors we have seen here is glimpses. wrote a great deal on the Holy Spirit and the Trinity.
What always strikes me about the Doctors of the Church is how comfortable and consistent they are in discussing lofty, mysterious yet possible perfection.
Silence follows the unitive state experience, of course.
The Orations, from which I took the last post and this one, are phenomenal works. These are found on the above link. We moderns think we are so much more intelligent than ancient peoples. Silly idea. The sublime writings of Gregory on the Trinity provide beautiful meditations. But, here, I am concentrating on perfection. I wonder is St. Teresa got her image of the Mansions from Gregory as well as the Scriptures? Comments in blue.... VIII. And yet, O talkative Dialectician, I will ask thee one small question,24 and answer thou me, as He saith to Job, Who through whirlwind and cloud giveth Divine admonitions.25Are there many mansions in God's House, as thou hast heard, or only one? Of course you will admit that there are many, and not only one. Now, are they all to be filled, or only some, and others not; so that some will be left empty, and will have been prepared to no purpose? Of course all will be filled, for nothing can be in vain which has been done by God. And can you tell me what you will consider this Mansion to be? Is it the rest and glory which is in store There for the Blessed, or something else?-No, not anything else. Since then we are agreed upon this point, let us further examine another also. Is there any thing that procures these Mansions, as I think there is; or is there nothing?-Certainly there is-What is it? Is it not that there are various modes of conduct, and various purposes, one leading one way, another way, according to the proportion of faith, and these we call Ways? I hope you, dear readers, find the repetition of the possibility, as well as the call, to perfection in all the writers so far comforting? This persistent thread shows us all that we are called to this journey and we miss out on what it means to be truly human if we do not respond to grace and knowledge. Must we, then, travel all, or some of these Ways ... the same individual along them all, if that be possible; or, if not, along as many as may be; or else along some of them? And even if this may not be, it would still be a great thing, at least as it appears to me, to travel excellently along even one.-"You are right in your conception."-What then when you hear there is but One way, and that a narrow one,26 does the word seem to you to shew? That there is but one on account of its excellence. For it is but one, even though it be split into many parts. And narrow because of its difficulties, and because it is trodden by few in comparison with the multi-trade of the adversaries, and of those who travel along the road of wickedness. "So I think too." Well, then, my good friend, since this is so, why do you, as though condemning our doctrine for a certain poverty, rush headlong down that one which leads through what you call arguments and speculations, but I frivolities and quackeries? Let Paul reprove you with those bitter reproaches, in which, after his list of the Gifts of Grace, he says, Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? etc.27
Oration 16 in the Pennsylvania University Museum
The reference to Paul underlines the great respect all the Doctors have for the Apostle to the Gentiles. But, what is noted is the use of Paul for the way to perfection-the response to grace. IX. But, be it so. Lofty thou art, even beyond the lofty, even above the clouds, if thou wilt, a spectator of things invisible, a hearer of things unspeakable; one who hast ascended after Elias, and who after Moses hast been deemed worthy of the Vision of God, and after Paul hast been taken up into heaven why dost thou mould the rest of thy fellows in one day into Saints, and ordain them Theologians, and as it were breathe into them instruction, and make them many councils of ignorant oracles? Why dost thou entangle those who are weaker in thy spider's web, if it were something great and wise? Why dost thou stir up wasps' nests against the Faith? Why dost thou suddenly spring a flood of dialectics upon us, as the fables of old did the Giants? Why hast thou collected all that is frivolous and unmanly among men, like a rabble, into one torrent, and having made them more effeminate by flattery, fashioned a new workshop, cleverly making a harvest for thyself out of their want of understanding? Dost thou deny that this is so, and are the other matters of no account to thee? Must thy tongue rule at any cost, and canst thou not restrain the birthpang of thy speech? Thou mayest find many other honourable subjects for discussion. To these turn this disease of thine with some advantage. Attack the silence of Pythagoras,28 and the Orphic beans, and the novel brag about "The Master said." Attack the ideas of Plato,29 and the transmigrations and courses of our souls, and the reminiscences, and the unlovely loves of the soul for lovely bodies. Attack the atheism of Epicurus,30 and his atoms, and his unphilosophic pleasure; or Aristotle's petty Providence, and his artificial system, and his discourses about the mortality of the soul, and the humanitarianism of his doctrine. Attack the superciliousness of the Stoa,31 or the greed and vulgarity of the Cynic.32 Attack the "Void and Full" (what nonsense), and all the details about the gods and the sacrifices and the idols and demons, whether beneficent or malignant, and all the tricks that people play with divination, evoking of gods, or of souls, and the power of the stars. And if these things seem to thee unworthy of discussion as petty and already often confuted, and thou wilt keep to thy line, and seek the satisfaction of thy ambition in it; then here too I will provide thee with broad paths. Philosophize about the world or worlds; about matter; about soul; about natures endowed with reason, good or bad; about resurrection, about judgment, about reward, or the Sufferings of Christ. For in these subjects to hit the mark is not useless, and to miss it is not dangerous. But with God we shall have converse, in this life only in a small degree; but a little later, it may be, more perfectly, in the Same, our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever. Amen. This is the language aimed even at the New Agers and Atheists of our own time. What a fantastic orator is this great saint. I hope you smile in recognition of the vanities of human errors which he lists here. How modern he sounds to us. To be continued.....
Saturday, 16 March 2013
Post 90: DoC: Gregory "The Theologian" and Perfection continued
On November 27, 2004, those relics (of Gregory) (along with the remains of John Chrysostom), were returned to Istanbul by Pope John Paul II, with the Vatican retaining a small portion of each. They are now in a place of honor at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in the Phanar (from wiki). With the problems of Islamists burning monasteries and some churches in Turkey at this time, I wish those relics had stayed in Rome.
Modern Silifke, place of ancient Seleucia ad Calycadnum