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Gregory Nazianzen the Theologian On the Death of his Father (Oration XVIII), Complete

Translated by Ch. Browne and J. Swallow.

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This Oration was delivered a.d. 374. S. Gregory the elder died early in that year, according to the Greek Menaea on the 1st of January, though Clemencet and some others place his death a few months later. His wife, S. Nonna, survived him, and was present to hear the Oration, as was also S. Basil, who desired to honour one who had consecrated him to the Episcopate. The aged Saint, who died in his hundredth year, had originally belonged to a sect called Hypsistarii. Our knowledge of the existence and tenets of this sect is due to this Oration [3185] and to a few sentences in that of S. Greg. Nyssen. (c. Eunom. I. ed. 1615, p. 12), by whom they are called Hypsistians. He was converted by the prayers, influence and example of his wife, S. Nonna, and, soon after his baptism, consecrated Bishop of Nazianzus. He was eminent as an able administrator, a devout Christian, an orthodox teacher, a steadfast Confessor of the faith, a sympathetic Pastor, an affectionate father. In his life and work he was seconded by his wife, and followed by his three children, Gregory, Gorgonia, and Caesarius, whose names are all to be found upon the roll of the Saints.

Funeral Oration on His Father, in the Presence of S. Basil.

1. O man of God, [3186] and faithful servant, [3187] and steward of the mysteries of God, [3188] and man of desires [3189] of the Spirit: [3190] for thus Scripture speaks of men advanced and lofty, superior to visible things. I will call you also a God to Pharaoh [3191] and all the Egyptian and hostile power, and pillar and ground of the Church [3192] and will of God [3193] and light in the world, holding forth the word of life, [3194] and prop of the faith and resting place of the Spirit. But why should I enumerate all the titles which your virtue, in its varied forms, has won for and applied to you as your own?

[3185] Cf. Orat. viii. S: 4, note.

[3186] Josh. xiv. 6.

[3187] Numb. xii. 7.

[3188] 1 Cor. iv. 1.

[3189] Dan. ix. 23 (LXX.).

[3190] The first words are addressed to S. Basil, who was present.

[3191] Exod. vii. 1.

[3192] 1 Tim. vii. 15.

[3193] Isai. lxii. 4. (LXX.).

[3194] Phil. ii. 16.

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