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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Fathers of the Church

Epistle XLV


Gregory wrote the following letter to explain the reasons for his staying away at this juncture. See Letters XL-XLIII for further background to this letter.


Gregory was the first Greek author to publish a collection of his letters; he did so at the request of Nicobulus, a grandson of his sister Gorgonia. Incidentally, he also sets forth a theory of epistolography; he demands that a good letter should have four characteristics: shortness, clearness, charm and simplicity. Although he refuses to present his own epistles as models, they are carefully written, in many cases not without humor, and most of them are brief and pointed. (Quasten)

After Basil's Consecration every one thought that Gregory would at once join his friend; and Basil himself much wished for his assistance. But Gregory thought it better to restrain his desire to see his friend until jealousies had time to calm down.

by Gregory Nazianzen in 370 | translated by Charles Gordon Browne, M.A., James Edward Swallow, M.A

When I learnt that you had been placed on the lofty throne, and that the Spirit had prevailed to publish the candle upon the candlestick, which even before shone with no dim light, I was glad, I confess. Why should I not be, seeing as I did that the commonwealth of the Church was in sorry plight, and needed such a guiding hand? Yet I did not run to you off hand, nor shall I run to you, not even if you ask me yourself. First, in order that I may be careful of your dignity, and that you may not seem to be collecting partisans under the influence of bad taste and hot temper, as your calumniators would say; and secondly that I may make for myself a reputation for stability, and above illwill. When then will you come, perhaps you will ask, and how long will you put it off? As long as God shall bid me, and until the shadow of the present enmity and slander shall have passed away. For the lepers, I well know, will not hold out very long to keep our David out of Jerusalem.

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.

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