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Gregory Nazianzen the Theologian On Easter II (Oration XLV), Complete

Translated by Ch. Browne and J. Swallow.

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II. The Lord's Passover, the Passover, and again I say the Passover to the honour of the Trinity. This is to us a Feast of feasts and a Solemnity of solemnities [4591] as far exalted above all others (not only those which are merely human and creep on the ground, but even those which are of Christ Himself, and are celebrated in His honour) as the Sun is above the stars. Beautiful indeed yesterday was our splendid array, and our illumination, in which both in public and private we associated ourselves, every kind of men, and almost every rank, illuminating the night with our crowded fires, formed after the fashion of that great light, both that with which the heaven above us lights its beacon fires, and that which is above the heavens, amid the angels (the first luminous nature, next to the first nature of all, because springing directly from it), and that which is in the Trinity, from which all light derives its being, parted from the undivided light and honoured. But today's is more beautiful and more illustrious; inasmuch as yesterday's light was a forerunner of the rising of the Great Light, and as it were a kind of rejoicing in preparation for the Festival; but today we are celebrating the Resurrection itself, no longer as an object of expectation, but as having already come to pass, and gathering the whole world unto itself. Let then different persons bring forth different fruits and offer different offerings at this season, smaller or greater...such spiritual offerings as are dear to God...as each may have power. For scarcely Angels themselves could offer gifts worthy of its rank, those first and intellectual and pure beings, who are also eye-witnesses of the Glory That is on high; if even these can attain the full strain of praise. We will for our part offer a discourse, the best and most precious thing we haveā€”especially as we are praising the Word for the blessing which He hath bestowed on the reasoning creation. I will begin from this point. For I cannot endure, when I am engaged in offering the sacrifice of the lips concerning the Great Sacrifice and the greatest of days, to fail to recur to God, and to take my beginning from Him. Therefore I pray you, cleanse your mind and ears and thoughts, all you who delight in such subjects, since the discourse will be concerning God, and will be divine; that you may depart filled with delights of a sort that do not pass away into nothingness. And it shall be at once very full and very concise, so as neither to distress you by its deficiencies, nor to displease you by satiety.

[4591] heorte heorton, kai paneguris panegurion. heorte says Nicetas, is one thing, paneguris another. heorte is the Commemoration of a Saint; paneguris is Easter, or Ascension, or some other mystical festival. Thus Synesius calls the Paschal Letters of the Alexandrian Patriarch panegurika grammata.

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