In much of Western Christianity, today is the feast of St. Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 329 – c. 389). In the East he is celebrated on other days and regarded much more highly: they call him “The Theologian.”
I can’t overestimate how important Gregory is to me, though in truth I have read only a handful of his writings: the “Five Theological Orations,” and “In Defense of His Flight to Pontus.”
In the Theological Orations he lays out his understanding of the Trinity, as well as noting the kind of transformative spiritual life that he thinks is required of anyone who would deal with such a holy, weighty topic as God.
I particularly value his ability to focus on the Persons of the Trinity in relation to each other — as opposed to the confused and muddled thinking so prominent today when people try to define the Persons by their relation to us. (I could say more — just ask me!)
The Defense of His Flight to Pontus (Oration 2) lays out Gregory’s sobering, insightful understanding of Christian ministry. So daunting was his vision for the task that he abandoned his call.
(Of course he also left because his dear friend Archbishop Basil of Caesarea had appointed him, one of the greatest minds and orators of the ancient Christian world, to the equivalent of Pumpkin Junction Iowa. But that’s another matter.)
A couple of years ago, in my first tentative attempt at blogging, I made four posts on the Defense of His Flight to Pontus. That was when I thought 1000 words was a good minimum for a blog post, and before I knew how helpful it was to accompany a post with a useful or evocative picture.
Nevertheless, those posts have continued to get a surprising number of hits ever since — some combination of unintentionally good SEO and a topic that is of continued interest.
In his honor I give you these links to those posts.
These posts were also before I knew anything about asking questions to spark conversations, or encouraging people to share posts.
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts here or on the posts themselves!
And of course if you think any of these posts are swell, I’d be most grateful if you clicked the sharing buttons below.