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Fathers of the Church

Epistle CXLV: to Verianus

Description

Gregory tells Verianus that he cannot act against God, and so if the divorce is to go forward, they must look for someone else to oversee the case.

Provenance

Verianus, a citizen of Nazianzus, had been offended by his son-in-law, and on this account wished his daughter to sue for a divorce. Olympius (Prefect of Cappadocia) referred the matter to the Episcopal arbitration of St. Gregory, who refused to countenance the proceeding, and wrote two letters, the first to the Prefect, the second to Verianus himself (included here).

by Gregory Nazianzen in Unknown | translated by Charles Gordon Browne, M.A., James Edward Swallow, M.A

Public executioners commit no crime, for they are the servants of the laws: nor is the sword unlawful with which we punish criminals. But nevertheless, the public executioner is not a laudable character, nor is the death-bearing sword received joyfully. Just so neither can I endure to become hated by confirming the divorce by my hand and tongue. It is far better to be the means of union and of friendship than of division and parting of life. I suppose it was with this in his mind that our admirable Governor entrusted me with the enquiry about your daughter, as one who could not proceed to divorce abruptly or unfeelingly. For he proposed me not as Judge, but as Bishop, and placed me as a mediator in your unhappy circumstances. I beg you therefore, to make some allowance for my timidity, and if the better prevail, to use me as a servant of your desire: I rejoice in receiving such commands. But if the worse and more cruel course is to be taken, seek for some one more suitable to your purpose. I have not time, for the sake of favouring your friendship (though in all respects I have the highest regard for you), to offend against God, to Whom I have to give account of every action and thought. I will believe your daughter (for the truth shall be told) when she can lay aside her awe of you, and boldly declare the truth. At present her condition is pitiable—for she assigns her words to you, and her tears to her husband.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/VII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.