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Fathers of the Church

Epistle CXXXIX

Description

Gregory gives his original reasons for leaving Nazianzus, and then states that the addressee's heavy-handed reproaches have induced him to remain, lest he or anyone else suffer spiritual injury.

Provenance

This letter is written in reference to the consent Gregory had been induced to give to remaining for some time longer as administrator of the See of Nazianzus

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

He Who raised David His servant from the Shepherd's work to the Throne, and Your Reverence from the flock to the Work of the Shepherd: He that orders our-affairs and those of all who hope in Him according to His own Will: may He now put it into the mind of Your Reverence to know the dishonour which I have suffered at the hands of my Lords the Bishops in the matter of their votes, in that they have agreed to the Election,(a) but have excluded us. I will not lay the blame on Your Reverence, because you have but recently come to preside over our affairs, and are, as is to be expected, for the most part unacquainted with our history. This is quite enough: for I have no mind to trouble you further, that I may not seem burdensome at the very beginning of our friendship. But I will tell you what suggests itself to me in taking counsel with God. I retired from the Church at Nazianzus, not as either despising God, or looking down on the littleness of the flock (God forbid that a philosophic(b) soul should be so disposed); but first because I am not bound by any such appointment: and secondly because I am broken down by my ill health, and do not think myself equal to such anxieties. And since you too have been heavy on me, in reproaching me with my resignation, and I myself could not endure the clamours against me, and since the times are bad, threatening us with an inroad of enemies to the injury of the commonwealth of the whole Church, I finally made up my mind to suffer a defeat which is painful to my body, but perhaps not bad for my soul. I make over this miserable body to the Church for as long as it may be possible, thinking it better to suffer any distress to the flesh rather than to incur a spiritual injury myself or to inflict it upon others, who have thought the worst of us, judging from their own experience. Knowing this, do pray for me, and approve my resolution: and perhaps it is not out of place to say, mould yourself to piety.

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.