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St Gregory of Nyssa Funeral Oration on Meletius, Complete

Translated by W. Moore and H. A. Wilson

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Ye have just heard what and how great things an Ephraim and a Manasses [2072] related of their father, and how the wonders of the story surpassed description. Give me also leave to speak on them. For this beatification of him from henceforth incurs no risk. Neither fear I Envy; for what worse evil can it do me? Know, then, what the man was; one of the nobility of the East, blameless, just, genuine, devout, innocent of any evil deed. Indeed the great Job will not be jealous if he who imitated him be decked with the like testimonials of praise. But Envy, that has an eye for all things fair, cast a bitter glance upon our blessedness; and one who stalks up and down the world also stalked in our midst, and broadly stamped the foot-mark of affliction on our happy state. It is not herds of oxen or sheep [2073] that he has maltreated, unless in a mystical sense one transfers the idea of a flock to the Church. It is not in these that we have received injury from Envy; it is not in asses or camels that he has wrought us loss, neither has he excruciated our bodily feelings by a wound in the flesh; no, but he has robbed us of our very head. And with that head have gone away from us the precious organs of our senses. That eye which beheld the things of heaven is no longer ours, nor that ear which listened to the Divine voice, nor that tongue with its pure devotion to truth [2074] . Where is that sweet serenity of his eyes? Where that bright smile upon his lips? Where that courteous right hand with fingers outstretched to accompany the benediction of the mouth. I feel an impulse, as if I were on the stage, to shout aloud for our calamity. Oh! Church, I pity you. To you, the city of Antioch, I address my words. I pity you for this sudden reversal. How has your beauty been despoiled! How have you been robbed of your ornaments! How suddenly has the flower faded! "Verily the grass withereth and the flower thereof falleth away [2075] ." What evil eye, what witchery of drunken malice has intruded on that distant Church? What is there to compensate her loss? The fountain has failed. The stream has dried up. Again has water been turned into blood [2076] . Oh! the sad tidings which tell the Church of her calamity! Who shall say to the children that they have no more a father? Who shall tell the Bride she is a widow? Alas for their woes! What did they send out? What do they receive back? They sent forth an ark, they receive back a coffin. The ark, my brethren, was that man of God; an ark containing in itself the Divine and mystic things. There was the golden vessel full of Divine manna, that celestial food [2077] . In it were the Tables of the Covenant written on the tablets of the heart, not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God [2078] .

[2072] i.e.preachers (perhaps of the Egyptian Church) who had preceded Gregory, spiritual sons of Basil, and so of Meletius, in the direct line of blessing. See Gen. xlviii. 5.

[2073] those of Job.

[2074] to hagnon anathema tes aletheias.

[2075] 1 Pet. i. 24; Is. xl. 8.

[2076] Exod. vii. 17.

[2077] Ps. lxxviii. 25; Wisd. xvi. 20: but truphes, not trophes, must have been the reading in the ms. which Sifanus used, "plena coelestium deliciarum."

[2078] Jer. xxxi. 33; Heb. x. 16.

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