Gregory of Nyssa
Dometian, Bishop of Melitene
Theosebia the Deaconess, sister of Basil the Great & Gregory of Nyssa
Afterfeast of the Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
Ο ΑΓΙΟΣ ΓΡΗΓΟΡΙΟΣ έπ. Νύσσης μετά της συζύγου του ΘΕΟΣΕΒΕΙΑΣ
Ο ΟΣΙΟΣ ΔΟΜΕΤΙΑΝΟΣ επίσκοπος Μελιτηνής
Ο ΟΣΙΟΣ ΑΜΜΩΝΙΟΣ
Ο ΑΓΙΟΣ ΜΑΡΚΙΑΝΟΣ
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians 4:7-13
BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (in saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Πρὸς Ἐφεσίους 4:7-13
Ἀδελφοί, ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ ἡμῶν ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις κατὰ τὸ μέτρον τῆς δωρεᾶς τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Διὸ λέγει, Ἀναβὰς εἰς ὕψος ᾐχμαλώτευσεν αἰχμαλωσίαν, καὶ ἔδωκεν δόματα τοῖς ἀνθρώποις. Τὸ δέ, Ἀνέβη, τί ἐστιν εἰ μὴ ὅτι καὶ κατέβη πρῶτον εἰς τὰ κατώτερα μέρη τῆς γῆς; Ὁ καταβάς, αὐτός ἐστιν καὶ ὁ ἀναβὰς ὑπεράνω πάντων τῶν οὐρανῶν, ἵνα πληρώσῃ τὰ πάντα. Καὶ αὐτὸς ἔδωκεν τοὺς μὲν ἀποστόλους, τοὺς δὲ προφήτας, τοὺς δὲ εὐαγγελιστάς, τοὺς δὲ ποιμένας καὶ διδασκάλους, πρὸς τὸν καταρτισμὸν τῶν ἁγίων, εἰς ἔργον διακονίας, εἰς οἰκοδομὴν τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ· μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον, εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ.
The Reading is from Luke 3:19-22
At that time, Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by John for Herodias, his brother's wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, added this to them all, that he shut up John in prison. Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven. "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 3.19-22
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ῾Ηρῴδης ὁ τετράρχης, ἐλεγχόμενος ὑπ᾿ αὐτοῦ περὶ ῾Ηρῳδιάδος τῆς γυναικὸς τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ καὶ περὶ πάντων ὧν ἐποίησε πονηρῶν ὁ ῾Ηρῴδης,προσέθηκε καὶ τοῦτο ἐπὶ πᾶσι καὶ κατέκλεισε τὸν ᾿Ιωάννην ἐν τῇ φυλακῇ. ᾿Εγένετο δὲ ἐν τῷ βαπτισθῆναι ἅπαντα τὸν λαὸν καὶ ᾿Ιησοῦ βαπτισθέντος καὶ προσευχομένου ἀνεῳχθῆναι τὸν οὐρανὸνκαὶ καταβῆναι τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ῞Αγιον σωματικῷ εἴδει ὡσεὶ περιστερὰν ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν, καὶ φωνὴν ἐξ οὐρανοῦ γενέσθαι λέγουσαν· σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Ι' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Γρηγορίου Ἐπισκόπου Νύσσης.
Ἡ Μοῦσα Γρηγόριος, οὗ Νύσσα θρόνος,
οὐ Πιερίαν, ἀλλ᾿ Ἐδὲμ σκηνὴν ἔχει.
Γρηγόριον δεκάτῃ θανάτου κνέφας ἀμφεκάλυψεν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ Ὁσίου Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Δομετιανοῦ Ἐπισκόπου Μελιτηνῆς.
Δομετιανὸς τῆς φθορᾶς ἀπηλλάγη,
Εἴπερ φθορὰν χρὴ τὸν βίον τοῦτον λέγειν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Μαρκιανοῦ, Πρεσβυτέρου καὶ Οἰκονόμου τῆς μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας.
Ἀπῆρεν ἔνθεν πρὸς πόλου μέγα κλέος,
Ὁ Μαρκιανός, οὗ κλέος κἂν γῇ μέγα.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Ἀμμώνιος ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειοῦται.
Τῆς ἀρετῆς ὁ θεῖος ἐσβέσθη λύχνος,
Λύχνων μυσάντων σαρκικῶν Ἀμμωνίου.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Ἐν Ἰορδάνῃ βαπτιζομένου σου Κύριε, ἡ τῆς Τριάδος ἐφανερώθη προσκύνησις, τοῦ γὰρ Γεννήτορος ἡ φωνὴ προσεμαρτύρει σοί, ἀγαπητὸν σὲ Υἱὸν ὀνομάζουσα, καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐν εἴδει περιστεράς, ἐβεβαίου τοῦ λόγου τὸ ἀσφαλές. Ὁ ἐπιφανεῖς Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, καὶ τὸν κόσμον φωτίσας δόξα σοί.
When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, calling Thee His beloved Son. And the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the certainty of the word. O Christ our God, Who hast appeared and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ἐπεφάνης σήμερον τὴ οἰκουμένη, καὶ τὸ φῶς σου Κύριε, ἐσημειώθη ἐφ' ἡμᾶς, ἓν ἐπιγνώσει ὑμνούντάς σε. Ἦλθες ἐφάνης τὸ Φῶς τὸ ἀπρόσιτον.
You appeared to the world today, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us. With fuller understanding we sing to You: "You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light."
Saint Gregory, the younger brother of Basil the Great, illustrious in speech and a zealot for the Orthodox Faith, was born in 331. His brother Basil was encouraged by their elder sister Macrina to prefer the service of God to a secular career (see July 19); Saint Gregory was moved in a similar way by his godly mother Emily, who, when Gregory was still a young man, implored him to attend a service in honor of the holy Forty Martyrs at her retreat at Annesi on the River Iris. Saint Gregory came at his mother's bidding, but being wearied with the journey, and feeling little zeal, he fell asleep during the service. The Forty Martyrs then appeared to him in a dream, threatening him and reproaching him for his slothfulness. After this he repented and became very diligent in the service of God.
Gregory became bishop in 372, and because of his Orthodoxy he was exiled in 374 by Valens, who was of one mind with the Arians. After the death of Valens in 378, Gregory was recalled to his throne by the Emperor Gratian. He attended the Local Council of Antioch, which sent him to visit the churches of Arabia and Palestine, which had been defiled and ravaged by Arianism. He attended the Second Ecumenical Council, which was assembled in Constantinople in 381. Having lived some sixty years and left behind many remarkable writings, he reposed about the year 395. The acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council call him 'Father of Fathers."
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Ὁ Θεὸς τῶν Πατέρων ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιῶν ἀεὶ μεθ΄ ἡμῶν, κατὰ τὴν σὴν ἐπιείκειαν, μὴ ἀποστήσῃς τὸ ἔλεός σου ἀφ΄ ἡμῶν. Ἀλλὰ ταῖς αὐτῶν ἱκεσίαις, ἐν εἰρήνῃ κυβέρνησον τὴν ζωὴν ἡμῶν.
O God of our Fathers, ever dealing with us according to Thy gentleness: take not Thy mercy from us, but by their entreaties guide our life in peace.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Της Ἐκκλησίας ὁ ἔνθεος Ἱεράρχης, καὶ τῆς σοφίας σεβάσμιος ὑμνογράφος, Νύσσης ὁ γρήγορος νοὺς Γρηγόριος, σὺν Ἀγγέλοις χορεύων, καὶ ἐντρυφῶν τῶ θείω φωτί, πρεσβεύει ἀπαύστως ὑπὲρ πάντων ἡμῶν.
Rejoicing with the Angels and taking delight in the Divine Light, Gregory of Nyssa, the vigilant mind, the God inspired hierarch of the Church, and wisdom's revered hymnographer, intercedeth unceasingly for us all.
Σήμερα η Εκκλησία επιτελεί την μνήμη του αγίου Γρηγορίου Επισκόπου Νύσσης, αδελφού του Μεγάλου Βασιλείου. Ο άγιος Γρηγόριος ο Νύσσης είναι περισσότερο φιλόσοφος παρά θεολόγος. Είναι ο φιλοσοφώτερος απ' όλους τους Πατέρας της Εκκλησίας κι όπως ένας ξένος μελετητής είπε, ανάμεσα στον Ωριγένη, τον Μέγα Βασίλειο και τον Γρηγόριο τον Θεολόγο, ο Γρηγόριος ο Νύσσης "μπόρεσε καλύτερα απ' όλους να μεταφυτεύση στο εσωτερικό του χριστιανικού κόσμου την πνευματική κληρονομία της αρχαίας Ελλάδος". Κι ένας δικός μας σοφός έγραψε πως ο άγιος Γρηγόριος ο Νύσσης είναι ο "θεμελιωτής της χριστιανικής μυστικής φιλοσοφίας". Η υμνολογία της Εκκλησίας στην μνήμη του αγίου Γρηγορίου Επισκόπου Νύσσης απηχεί την γνώμη για το έργο του, ένα έργο φιλοσόφου, πνευματικού και αγίου ανδρός. Ο άγιος Γρηγόριος είναι "ο κάλαμος ο πλήρης της Παρακλήτου πνοής", ο "θεωρία την πράξιν καταλαμπρύνας".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος ἐπίσκοπος Νύσσης μετὰ τῆς συζύγου του Θεοσεβείας
Γεννήθηκε στὴ Νεοκαισάρεια τοῦ Πόντου τὸ 332 καὶ ἦταν ἀδελφὸς τοῦ Μεγάλου Βασιλείου. Παίρνει τὴν ἴδια μόρφωση μὲ τὸν μεγάλο του ἀδελφό, ξεχωρίζει δὲ κι αὐτὸς γιὰ τὴν εὐφυΐα του, τὴν ἐπιμέλειά του καὶ τὴν φιλοσοφικότατη ἰδιοφυΐα του. Ὁ Γρηγόριος νυμφεύεται τὴν Θεοσέβεια, (πραγματικὰ ἁγία γυναῖκα), ποὺ γρήγορα τὴν ἁρπάζει ὁ θάνατος. Ἰσχυρὸς χαρακτῆρας καθὼς ἦταν, δὲν ἀπελπίζεται, καὶ στὰ σαράντα του χρόνια γίνεται ἐπίσκοπος Νύσσης, μίας κωμοπόλεως τῆς Καπαδοκίας. Ὁ Θεὸς τὸν ἀξιώνει νὰ γίνει τὸ κυριότερο ὄργανό Του στὴ Β´ Οἰκουμενικὴ σύνοδο, τὸ 381 στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη, καὶ κατατροπώνει στὴν κυριολεξία τοὺς πνευματομάχους τοῦ Μακεδονίου, μὲ «... τὴν μάχαιρα ποὺ δίνει τὸ Πνεῦμα καὶ ἡ ὁποία εἶναι ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ». Στὶς συζητήσεις ἐκεῖνες, ὁ Γρηγόριος ὁ Νύσσης τόσο πολὺ εἶχε διακριθεῖ, ὥστε ὀνομάστηκε «Πατὴρ Πατέρων καὶ Νυσσαέων Φωστήρ». Ὁ δὲ Μέγας Θεοδόσιος τὸν ὀνόμασε στῦλο τῆς Ὀρθοδοξίας. Πέθανε εἰρηνικά, ἀφοῦ ἄφησε πολὺ ἀξιόλογα ἔργα: ἑρμηνευτικά, δογματικά, κατηχητικά, λόγους ἠθικούς, ἑορταστικούς, ἐγκωμιαστικούς, ἐπιταφίους καὶ ἕναν ἐπιμνημόσυνο στὸν ἀδελφό του Μ. Βασίλειο.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Δομετιανὸς ἐπίσκοπος Μελιτηνῆς.
Ἔζησε τὸν 6ο αἰῶνα καὶ ἦταν γιὸς πλουσίων γονέων, τοῦ Θεοδώρου καὶ τῆς Εὐδοκίας. Φιλομαθὴς ὁ Δομετιανὸς καὶ πολὺ προσεκτικὸς στὸ νὰ διατηρεῖ καθαρὴ τὴν ζωή του ἀπὸ μικρὴ ἡλικία, δὲν παρασύρθηκε ἀπὸ τὰ πολλὰ ὑλικὰ πλούτη. Ἀλλὰ ἐπιδόθηκε στὸ νὰ μάθει τὰ ἑλληνικὰ γράμματα καὶ τὶς ἅγιες Γραφὲς καὶ πράγματι προόδευσε πολὺ στὶς σπουδές του. Ἀργότερα παντρεύτηκε μία εὐσεβέστατη σύζυγο, ποὺ γρήγορα ὅμως τὴν ἔχασε. Ἀλλὰ θέλησε νὰ μείνει πιστὸς στὴ μνήμη τῆς συζύγου του, γι᾿ αὐτὸ ἔγινε κληρικὸς καὶ ἀφοσιώθηκε ὁλοσχερῶς στὴν ὑπηρεσία τῆς ἐκκλησίας. Ἡ δὲ μεγάλη προσωπική του ἀξία δὲν ἄργησε νὰ τὸν ἀνεβάσει στὴν ἐπισκοπὴ τῆς Μελιτηνῆς στὴ Μεσοποταμία. Ὁ Δομετιανός, μαζί με τὰ ἐκκλησιαστικὰ πλεονεκτήματά του, κατεῖχε καὶ μεγάλη πολιτικὴ ἱκανότητα καὶ ἐπιδεξιότητα. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ ὁ αὐτοκράτωρ Μαυρίκιος, τοῦ ἐμπιστεύθηκε σπουδαία πολιτικὴ ἀποστολὴ στὸ βασιλιὰ τῶν Περσῶν Χοσρόη τὸν Β´. Ἡ ἐπιτυχία, μὲ τὴν ὁποία τὴν ἐξετέλεσε, ἔκανε τὸν αὐτοκράτορα νὰ παραχωρεῖ κατὰ καιροὺς στὸν ἐπίσκοπο Μελιτηνῆς μεγάλα χρηματικὰ ποσά, ποὺ ὁ Δομετιανὸς τὰ ξόδευε στὶς ἐκκλησιαστικὲς ἀνάγκες καὶ τὴν ἵδρυση πτωχοκομείων. Πέθανε τὸν Ἰανουάριο τοῦ 602, σὲ μία ἀπὸ τὶς ἐπισκέψεις του στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ἡ δὲ κηδεία του ἔγινε μὲ μεγάλη ἐπισημότητα.
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἀμμώνιος
Τρεῖς ὁμώνυμοι ἀσκητὲς ἐρημῖτες μνημονεύονται, ποὺ διέπρεψαν στὴν ἁγιότητα τοῦ βίου τους: ὁ ἕνας μαθητὴς τοῦ μεγάλου Ἀντωνίου, ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς τοῦ Ἀββᾶ Παμβῶ, ποὺ ἔκοψε τ᾿ αὐτί του γιὰ νὰ μὴ γίνει ἀρχιερέας, καὶ ἕνας ἄλλος Ἀμμώνιος, ποὺ κατασκεύαζε κελιὰ γιὰ τοὺς νέους προσερχόμενους μοναχούς. Ὅλοι ἔζησαν στὴν ἔρημο ὁσιακὰ καὶ εἰρηνικὰ ἀπεβίωσαν. Ποιὸς ὅμως ἀπὸ τοὺς τρεῖς μνημονεύεται ἐδῶ δὲν γνωρίζουμε.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Μαρκιανός
Πρεσβύτερος καὶ οἰκονόμος τῆς Μεγάλης Ἐκκλησίας. Οἱ προγονοί του κατάγονταν ἀπὸ τὴν Ῥώμη, ἦλθαν ὅμως καὶ ἐγκαταστάθηκαν στὴν Κωνσταντινούπολη. Ὁ ἴδιος ἔδρασε ἐπὶ αὐτοκρατόρων Μαρκιανοῦ καὶ Πουλχερίας, καὶ ἐπὶ Λέοντος τοῦ Θρακός. Δηλαδὴ γύρω στὸ 450-474. Καταρτισμένος στὰ Ἱερὰ γράμματα, διακρίθηκε σὰν Ἱερέας καὶ οἰκονόμος τοῦ ναοῦ τῆς Ἁγίας Σοφίας. Ἡ μέριμνά του γιὰ τοὺς φτωχοὺς ὑπῆρξε ἐξαιρετική. Ἐπίσης μὲ πρωτοβουλία τοῦ Μαρκιανοῦ, κτίστηκε μεγαλοπρεπὴς ναὸς τῆς Ἁγίας Ἀναστασίας, κοντὰ στὸν μικρότερο ποὺ ὑπῆρχε καὶ τὸν ὁποῖο δόξασε ὁ Γρηγόριος ὁ Θεολόγος μὲ τοὺς περίφημους λόγους του. Ἔπειτα πάλι μὲ πρωτοβουλία τοῦ Μαρκιανοῦ κτίστηκαν ὁ ναὸς τῆς Ἁγίας Εἰρήνης πρὸς τὴν θάλασσα, ὁ κάτω ἀπ᾿ αὐτὴ ναὸς Ἰσιδώρου τοῦ Μάρτυρα καὶ ὁ ναὸς τοῦ Ἁγίου Στρατονίκου. Γι᾿ αὐτή του λοιπὸν τὴν εὐλάβεια, γιὰ τὴν πολλὴ φιλανθρωπία καὶ ἐλεημοσύνη του καὶ τὴν εὐσεβῆ χρησιμοποίηση τῆς παιδείας του, ἡ Ἐκκλησία τὸν κατάταξε μεταξὺ τῶν Ἁγίων της.
Our Holy Father Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa (395)
"Saint Gregory, the younger brother of Basil the Great, illustrious in speech and a zealot for the Orthodox faith, was born in 331. His brother Basil was encouraged by their elder sister Macrina to prefer the service of God to a secular career (see July 19); Saint Gregory was moved in a similar way by his godly mother Emily, who, when Gregory was still a young man, implored him to attend a service in honour of the holy Forty Martyrs at her retreat at Annesi on the River Iris. Saint Gregory came at his mother's bidding, but being wearied with the journey, and feeling little zeal, he fell asleep during the service. The Forty Martyrs then appeared to him in a dream, threatening him and reproaching him for his slothfulness. After this he repented and became very diligent in the service of God. He became bishop in 372, and because of his Orthodoxy he was exiled in 374 by Valens, who was on one mind with the Arians. After Valens' death in 378 he was recalled to his throne by the Emperor Gratian. He attended the Local Council of Antioch, which sent him to visit the churches of Arabia and Palestine, which had been defiled and ravaged by Arianism. He attended the Second Ecumenical Council, which was assembled in Constantinople in 381. Having lived some sixty years and left behind many remarkable writings, he reposed about the year 395. The acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council call him "Father of Fathers." (Great Horologion)
Our Holy Father Theophan the Recluse (1894)
This modern-day Church Father was born in Chernavsk in central Russia. The son of a priest, he entered seminary at a young age, then completed the four-year course in theology at the Academy of Kiev. Though he distinguished himself as a student, his heart turned increasingly toward the monastic life, and he was tonsured a monk and ordained a priest upon completion of his studies. During his time at the Academy he often visited the Lavra of the Caves, and there became a spiritual child of Father Parthenius (March 25).
His desire for monastic life was not fulfilled immediately, for the Church felt need of his intellectual gifts. He served as a professor at the Theological Academy in St Petersburg, the worked for seven years in the Russian Mission to the Near East, mostly in Palestine. During this time he gained a perfect mastery of Greek and studied the works of the Church Fathers in the original languages. Returning to Russia, he was soon consecrated a bishop; but after seven years of episcopal service, he at last achieved his heart's desire, resigning as bishop and retiring to a small monastery at Yvschen, where he spent the rest of his days.
After taking full part in the liturgical and communal life of the monastery for several years, he took up the life of a recluse in 1872. He lived in two small rooms, subsisting almost entirely on bread and tea, visited only by his confessor and the abbot of the monastery. He celebrated the Divine Liturgy every day in his cell. All of his time not taken up by inner prayer was devoted to translating the works of the Fathers into Russian and, increasingly, to writings of his own. Most importantly, he prepared a Russian-language edition of the Philokalia which had a deep impact upon Russian spiritual life.
Though he received no visitors, St Theophan entered into correspondence with many earnest Christians who sought his counsel, and so in time became the spiritual father of many believers throughout Russia. He reposed in peace in 1894.
In addition to the Philokalia, St Theophan produced (among other works): a Spiritual Psalter of selections from St Ephraim the Syrian; The Path to Salvation, an exposition of Orthodox Spirituality written in clear, plain language for those living in the world; collections of his letters to spiritual children; and Unseen Warfare, a treatise on prayer and the ascetical life. This last has an unusual history. In its original form it was written by Lorenzo Scupoli, an Italian Roman Catholic priest. St Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain, recognizing the book's merit, produced a Greek edition in which he corrected various deviations from Orthodoxy in the original. St Theophan in turn revised the Greek edition extensively, removing some material and adding passages of his own; so that the Italian, Greek and Russian versions are in fact three substantially different books. Many of St Theophan's works (including Unseen Warfare) are available in good English translations. They are almost unique in presenting the undiluted hesychastic spirituality of the Orthodox Church in plain, straightforward language accessible to most people.
Sainted Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, was a younger brother of Saint Basil the Great (Comm. 1 January). His birth and time of upbringing coincided with the very heights of the Arian disputes. Having received an excellent education, he was at one time a teacher of rhetorical eloquence. In the year 372 he was ordained by Saint Basil the Great as bishop of the city of Nyssa in Cappadocia.
Saint Gregory was an ardent advocate for Orthodoxy, and together with his brother Saint Basil the great he fought against the Arian heresy. He suffered persecution by the Arians, by whom he was falsely accused in the year 376 of improper useage of church property, and thereby deprived of his cathedra-seat and sent off to Ancyra. In the following year Saint Gregory was again in absentia deposed by a church-council of Arian bishops, but he continued to encourage his flock in Orthodoxy, wandering about from place to place. After the death of the emperor Valens (378), Saint Gregory was restored to his cathedra-seat and joyously received by his flock. In the year 379 his brother Saint Basil the Great died. Only with difficulty did Saint Gregory survive the loss of his brother and guide. He crafted a funeral oration to him and completed compilation of Saint Basil's study of the Six Days of Creation, the so-called "Hexaemeron". This same year Saint Gregory participated in the Council of Antioch, against heretics that disdained to honour the immaculate virginity of the Mother of God, and others at the opposite extreme that worshipped the Mother of God as Herself being God. He was chosen by the Council for an examination of churches in Arabia and Palestine to assert the Orthodox teaching about the MostHoly Mother of God. On his return journey Saint Gregory visited Jerusalem and the Holy Places.
In the year 381 Saint Gregory was one of the chief figures of the Second OEcumenical Council, convened at Constantinople against the heresy of Macedonias, who incorrectly taught concerning the Holy Spirit. At this Council, on the initiative of Saint Gregory, was completed the Nicean Symbol of Faith (i.e. the Creed).
Together with the other bishops Saint Gregory affirmed Sainted Gregory the Theologian in the dignity of Archpastor of Constantinople.
In the year 383 Saint Gregory of Nyssa was a participant in a Council at Constantinople, where he spoke a sermon about the Divinity of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the year 386 he was again at Constantinople, and to him was entrusted to speak the funeral oration in memory of the empress Placilla. And again in 394 Saint Gregory was present in Constantinople at a Local Council, convened for resolving church matters in Arabia.
Sainted Gregory of Nyssa was a fiery defender of Orthodox dogmas and a zealous teacher to his flock, a kind and compassionate father to his spiritual children, and their intercessor before the courts. He was distinguished by his magnanimity, patience and love for peace.
Having reached old age, Saint Gregory of Nyssa died peacefully, soon after the Constantinople Council. Together with his great contemporaries -- Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian, Saint Gregory of Nyssa had a significant influence on the Church life of his time. His sister, Saint Macrina, wrote to him: "Thou art reknown both in the cities, and gatherings of people, and throughout entire districts; Churches do send off and summon thee for help". Saint Gregory has come down in history as one of the most obvious and active Christian thinkers of the IV Century. Endowed with a profound philosophical talent, he perceived philosophy but as a means for a deeper penetration into the authentic meaning of Divine revelation.
Saint Gregory left behind him many works of dogmatic character, as well as sermons and discourses.
The Monk Dometian, Bishop of Meletineia, was born and lived during the VI Century, during the time of the emperor Justin the Younger. He was married but early on widowed, thereafter accepting monasticism and living a strict and holy life. At thirty years of age he was chosen bishop of the city of Meletineia (Great Armenia). Wise and zealous in questions of faith, strong in word and deed, Saint Dometian quickly gained fame as a good and ardent pastor. More than once he carried out government commissions in Persia to avoid conflicts with the Greeks. Beloved by everyone, the Monk Dometian often received rich gifts, which he distributed for the welfare of the poor. Both during his lifetime and after his death, occurring in the year 601, Saint Dometian was glorified by God with miracles.
The Monk Marcian, Presbyter and Steward of the Great Church (in Constantinople), was born at Rome and in his youth he received a first-rate education in Constantinople. After the death of his parents, the Monk Marcian used his rich inheritance on the building, renovation and embellishment of churches. Thus, he built a church in the name of the holy Martyress Anastasia, richly adorned it, and had the holy relics of the saint transferred into it. He built likewise a church of the holy Martyress Irene. His moral purity and strict ascetic life brought him to the attention of the patriarch, who ordained the Saint Marcian a presbyter and appointed him steward of the Great (Patriarchal) Church in Constantinople.
From his wealth Saint Marcian distributed generous alms, and distinguished himself by non-covetousness, denying himself in everything. In accord with the command of the Saviour, he did not even have an extra set of clothes, as might be necessary should he be drenched in inclement weather. Having received a gift of wonderworking, the Monk Marcian healed the sick and cast out devils. Saint Marcian died during the years 472-474 and was buried at the monastery of Saint John the ForeRunner at Constantinople.
The Monk Paul of Komel'sk, a famed student of the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, was born at Moscow in the year 1317. From his youthful years he distinguished himself by his piety and kindliness towards the poor and suffering. His rich parents prepared him for a secular life, but at twenty-two years of age he secretly left his parental home and received tonsure at the Nativity monastery on the Volga (in Yaroslavsk diocese).
From there Paul transferred to the Holy Trinity monastery to the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, spending several years with him as a cell-obedient, in everything obeying the wise guidance of the holy starets (elder). With the blessing of the Monk Sergei, he settled a way off from the monastery in a separate cell, where he spent fifteen years as an hermit. Having asked the blessing of the Monk Sergei to go off into the wilderness for a quiet and solitary life, the Monk Paul wandered about for a long while, seeking for himself the place of solitude. He went much about the wilderness, he spent time with the Monk Avraamii of Chukhlomsk (Comm. 20 July) and finally, he remained in the Komel'sk forest. At the Gryazovitsa River, in the hollow of an old linden tree, the monk made himself a small cell and dwelt there for three years in complete silence, "not giving his body rest, for which to receive future rest". Then he moved on to the River Nurma, where he built himself an hut and dug out a well. He spent his days in vigil and prayer. Five days out of the week he went without food, and only on Saturday and Sunday did he partake of some bread and water. The news spread widely about the hermit, and there begin coming to him those wishing spiritual guidance of him. Despite his love for the solitary life, the Monk Paul never refused anyone in spiritual consolation and guidance. He was visited here also by the Monk Sergei of Nuromsk, who likewise had sought solitude with the blessing of their teacher the Monk Sergei of Radonezh, and who likewise passed his ascetic life in these locales.
With the blessing of the Monk Sergei and the agreement of Metropolitan Photii, the Monk Paul in 1414 built the Holy Trinity Church, around which grew up a monastery, receiving the name of Pavlo-Obnorsk. Having written for the brethren a strict ustav (monastic rule), the Monk Paul entrusted the guidance of the new monastery to his disciple Aleksei, while he himself continued as before to live in a solitary cell on an hill, meanwhile remaining a responsive and good counsellor for anyone needing his healing help. The Monk Paul died at 112 years of age. His final words were: "Brethren, have love one for another and keep to the rule of the monastic community".
The Life of the saint was written in about the year 1546, and his glorification occurred in 1547.
The Monk Makarii of Pisemsk and Kostroma -- was a co-ascetic of the Monk Paul of Obnorsk. He was the founder, in the second half of the XIV Century, of the Makar'ev Transfiguration wilderness monastery at the River Pis'ma in the Kostroma outskirts.
Blessed Theozua the Deaconess was the sister by birth of Saints Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, and Paul, Bishop of Sebasteia. She was a virgin and served Holy Church as a deaconess, caring for the sick, distributing food to vagrants, raising orphans and preparing women for holy Baptism. When her brother, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, was in exile for three years, Saint Theozua was with him and she shared in all the tribulations of a life of wandering. Saint Theozua died in the year 385, and Sainted Gregory the Theologian honoured her memory in an eulogy.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. SAINT GREGORY, BISHOP OF NYSSA
Gregory was the brother of Basil the Great. At first, he was only a presbyter since he was married; but when his wife Blessed Theosevia died, Gregory was chosen and consecrated as bishop of Nyssa. He was distinguished by his great secular learning and spiritual experience. He participated at the Second Ecumenical Council (Constantinople, 381 A.D). It is thought that he composed the second half of the Symbol of Faith [The Creed]. He was a great orator, an exegete of Holy Scripture and a theologian. Because of their defeat, the Arians especially attacked him as their worst enemy, so that, during the reign of Emperor Valens, their ally of the same mind, succeeded in ousting Gregory from the episcopal throne and banished him into exile. This Holy Father spent eight years in exile, patiently enduring all miseries and all humiliations. He finally died in old age toward the end of the fourth century and was translated into the Kingdom of God remaining on earth throughout the ages as a great beacon of the Church.
2. THE VENERABLE AMMON, EPYPTIAN ASCETIC
For fourteen years, Ammon prayed to God and struggled to conquer anger within himself. He attained such perfection of goodness, that he was not even conscious that evil existed in the world. He was particularly knowledgeable in Holy Scripture. He died at the beginning of the fifth century.
3. SAINT MARCIAN
Marcian was born in Rome. As a presbyter, he lived the remainder of his life in Constantinople during the greater part of the reign of Emperor Marcian and Empress Plucheria. Inheriting enormous wealth from his parents, Marcian generally spent it on two goals: either on building or restoring churches or on charity for the poor. He built two new churches in Constantinople, St. Anastasia and St. Irene, both famous for their beauty and sacredness. When he was asked, "Why do you spend so much on churches?" He replied, "If I had a daughter and wanted to marry her to a nobleman, would I not spend much gold in order to adorn her as a worthy bride? And, here I am adorning the Church, the Bride of Christ." As much as this wonderful man was generous toward the churches and the indigent; so much was he austere, very austere toward himself following the apostolic exhortation: "If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that" (I Timothy 6:8). It is written about him: "He was totally in God and God in him, and presented himself to God in fullness of years and good works," in the year 471 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT GREGORY - SAINT MARCIAN
The Spirit possesses the gifts, the Spirit imparts the gifts,
To some, blessed mercy; to some, bold understanding,
To some, a special virgin's purity,
To some, a living love or a correct mind.
According to the strength of one's faith, a new gift, the Spirit adds:
If the faith grows, which moves mountains,
The treasury of the Spirit, then opened is
And, gift upon gift, as rain, descends upon the faithful one.
St. Gregory, because of his great faith,
To spiritual heights, like an eagle soared.
St. Marcian, because of his great faith,
With heavenly mercy was illuminated.
The light of theology, to Gregory was imparted.
To Marcian was given grace; the chrism of praising.
O Heavenly Spirit, Lord and King,
Your wondrous gifts, from us, do not withhold,
But through the prayers of Your chosen vessels
In the day of the Dreadful Judgment, from condemnation, save us.
Vanity because of clothing occupies special momentum in our time. He who has nothing else of which to be proud becomes proud of his attire. He who would have something more costly than clothes of which to be proud, does he not become proud? Just as gold, which does not come out from the surface of the earth, so it is that neither the spiritual values of a man not show outwardly. It is said, that a certain distinguished philosopher saw a young man who displayed pride in his clothing. He approached the young man and whispered in his ear: "The same fleece was previously worn by a ram, but, nevertheless, he was still a ram!" To be a Christian and to display pride in clothing is more insane than to be an emperor and to be proud of the dust under his feet. While St. Arsenius wore cloth of gold in the royal court, no one called him great. He was called Great only then when he unselfishly gave himself over completely to God and dressed in rags.
To contemplate the lowliness of the Lord Jesus:
1. The lowliness of the King Who was born in a cave;
2. The lowliness of the most wealthy One, Who hungered and thirsted;
3. The lowliness of the Almighty in relationship with the lowly on earth.
About contentment with that which is most necessary to us
"If we have food and clothing,we shall be content withthat" (I Timothy 6:8).
The apostles of God taught others that which they themselves fulfilled in their own lives. When they had food and clothing they were content. Even when it occurred that they had neither food nor clothing they were content. For their contentment did not emanate from the outside but emanated from within. Their contentment was not so cheap as the contentment of an animal, but costly, more costly and more rare. Internal contentment, the contentment of peace and love of God in the heart, that is the contentment of greater men, that was the apostolic contentment. In great battles, generals are dressed and fed as ordinary soldiers and they do not seek contentment in food nor in clothes but in victory. Victory is the primary principle of contentment of those who battle. Brethren, Christians are constantly in battle, in battle for the victory of the spirit over the material, in battle for conquest of the higher over the lower, man over beast. Is it not, therefore, absurd to engage in battle and not to worry about victory but to concern oneself with external decorations and ornaments? Is it not foolish to give to one's enemies the marks of identification? Our invisible enemy [Satan] rejoices at our vanity and supports us in every vain thought. The invisible enemy occupies us with every possible unreasonable pettiness and idleness only to impose upon our minds the heavy forgetfulness relative to that for which we are here on earth. The invisible enemy [Satan] presents to us the worthless as important, the irrelevant as essential and that which is detrimental as beneficial only in order to achieve victory and to destroy us forever.
O Lord, Holy, Mighty and Immortal, Who created us from the mud and breathed a living soul into mud, do not allow, O Lord, that the mud overwhelms! Help our spirit that it always be stronger than the earth.