Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

30—Gregory Nazianzen: Greatness in the Passive Voice

By Mike Aquilina ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 28, 2020 | In Way of the Fathers (Podcast)

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All Gregory wanted was a quiet place where he could relax with his books and a few close friends. From young adulthood he believed God was calling him to the contemplative life, and to old age he never lost that sense. But history kept dragging him into its current. First, his father (a bishop) coerced him into ordination to the priesthood. Then his closest friend, Basil the Great, pressured him to be ordained a bishop. Both times he put up little resistance, but later resented the actions as violence. Both times he eventually fled the demands of his office. Later he was persuaded to lead the Nicene faction in the capital city of the empire. Eventually he became bishop there and led the second ecumenical council in 380. Before the council was over he resigned and resumed his monastic retreat back home. Along the way he wrote the most compelling and complete Trinitarian theology of his time—and reams of great poetry.


Gregory Nazianzen, Epistle 150 (on dogmatic questions)

Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 2 (on his flight from priesthood)

Gregory Nazianzen, Oration 27: The First Theological Oration (on the duties of the theologian)

John Henry Newman, “Basil and Gregory”

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Theme music: Gaudeamus (Introit for the Feast of All Saints), sung by Jeff Ostrowski. Courtesy of Corpus Christi Watershed

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Mike Aquilina is a popular author working in the area of Church history, especially patristics. He is executive vice-president and trustee of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, a contributing editor of Angelus (magazine) and general editor of the Reclaiming Catholic History Series from Ave Maria Press. See full bio.

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