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Fathers of the Church

Epistle LXIII: to Amphilochius the Elder


Gregory, who had just lost his own father, writes to undeceive him, and to convince him how much he dreads the burden of the responsibilities of the episcopate for his friend as well as for himself.


In A.D. 374 Amphilochius was made Bishop of Iconium; and his father, a man of the same name, was deeply aggrieved at being thus deprived of his son, to whom he had looked to support him in his old age, and accused Gregory of being the cause.

by Gregory Nazianzen in 374 | translated by Charles Gordon Browne, M.A., James Edward Swallow, M.A

Are you grieving? I, of course, am full of joy! Are you weeping? I, as you see, am keeping festival and glorying in the present state of things! Are you grieved because your son is taken from yon and promoted to honour on account of his virtue, and do you think it a terrible misfortune that he is no longer with you to tend your old age, and, as his custom is, to bestow on you all due care and service? But it is no grief to me that my father has left me for the last journey, from which he will return to me no more, and I shall never see him again! Then I for my part do not blame you, nor do I ask you for due condolence, knowing as I do that private troubles allow no leisure for those of strangers; for no man is so friendly and so philosophical as to be above his own suffering and to comfort another when needing comfort himself. But you on the contrary heap blow on blow, when you blame me, as I hear you do, and think that your son and my brother is neglected by us, or even betrayed by us, which is a still heavier charge; or that we do not recognize the loss which all his friends and relatives have suffered, and I more than all, because I had placed in him my hopes of life, and looked upon him as the only bulwark, the only good counsellor, and the only sharer of my piety. And yet, on what grounds do you form this opinion? If on the first, be assured that I came over to you on purpose, and because I was troubled by the rumour, and I was ready to share your deliberations while it was still time for consultation about the matter; and you imparted anything to me rather than this, whether because you were in the same distress, or with some other purpose, I know not what. But if the last. I was prevented from meeting you again by my grief, and the honour I owed my father, and his funeral, over which I could not give anything precedence, and that when my sorrow was fresh, and it would not only have been wrong but also quite improper to be unseasonably philosophical, and above human nature. Moreover, I thought that I was previously engaged by the circumstances, especially as his had come to such a conclusion as seemed good to Him who governs all our affairs. So much concerning this matter. Now I beg you to put aside your grief, which is most unreasonable I am sure; and if you have any further grievance, bring it forward that you may not grieve both me in part and yourself, and put yourself in a position unworthy of your nobility, blaming me instead of others, though I have done you no wrong, but, if I must say the truth, have been equally tyrannized over by our common friend, although you used to think me your only benefactor.

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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