Gregory Nazianzen.

Oration I.

On Easter and His Reluctance.

I. It is the Day of the Resurrection, and my Beginning has good auspices. Let us then keep the Festival with splendour,1 Isa. lxvi. 5. and let us embrace one another. Let us say Brethren, even to those who hate us; much more to those who have done or suffered aught out of love for us. Let us forgive all offences for the Resurrection’s sake: let us give one another pardon, I for the noble tyranny which I have suffered (for I can now call it noble); and you who exercised it, if you had cause to blame my tardiness; for perhaps this tardiness may be more precious in God’s sight than the haste of others. For it is a good thing even to hold back from God for a little while, as did the great Moses of old,2 Ex. iv. 10. and Jeremiah3 Jer. i. 6. later on; and then to run readily to Him when He calls, as did Aaron4 Ex. iv. 27. and Isaiah,5 Isa. i. 6. so only both be done in a dutiful spirit;—the former because of his own want of strength; the latter because of the Might of Him That calleth.

II. A Mystery6 Mystery, according to Nicetas, is frequently used by S. Gregory in the sense of Festival. He also explains the Anointing as meaning the Imposition of hands at Ordination. anointed me; I withdrew a little while at a Mystery, as much as was needful to examine myself; now I come in with a Mystery, bringing with me the Day as a good defender of my cowardice and weakness; that He Who to-day rose again from the dead may renew me also by His Spirit; and, clothing me with the new Man, may give me to His New Creation, to those who are begotten after God, as a good modeller and teacher for Christ, willingly both dying with Him and rising again with Him.

III. Yesterday the Lamb was slain and the door-posts were anointed,7 Ex. xii. A fine piece of mystical interpretation. and Egypt bewailed her Firstborn, and the Destroyer passed us over, and the Seal was dreadful and reverend, and we were walled in with the Precious Blood. To-day we have clean escaped from Egypt and from Pharaoh; and there is none to hinder us from keeping a Feast to the Lord our God—the Feast of our Departure; or from celebrating that Feast, not in the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth,8 1 Cor. v. 8. carrying with us nothing of ungodly and Egyptian leaven.

IV. Yesterday I was crucified with Him; today I am glorified with Him; yesterday I died with Him; to-day I am quickened with Him; yesterday I was buried with Him; to-day I rise with Him. But let us offer to Him Who suffered and rose again for us—you will think perhaps that I am going to say gold, or silver, or woven work or transparent and costly stones, the mere passing material of earth, that remains here below, and is for the most part always possessed by bad men, slaves of the world and of the Prince of the world. Let us offer ourselves, the possession most precious to God, and most fitting; let us give back to the Image what is made after the Image. Let us recognize our Dignity; let us honour our Archetype; let us know the power of the Mystery, and for what Christ died.

V. Let us become like Christ, since Christ became like us. Let us become God’s for His sake, since He for ours became Man. He assumed the worse that He might give us the better; He became poor that we through His poverty might be rich;9 2 Cor. viii. 9. He took upon Him the form of a servant that we might receive back our liberty; He came down that we might be exalted; He was tempted that we might conquer; He was dishonoured that He might glorify us; He died that He might save us; He ascended that He might draw to Himself us, who were lying low in the Fall of sin. Let us give all, offer all, to Him Who gave Himself a Ransom and a Reconciliation for us. But one can give nothing like oneself, understanding the Mystery, and becoming for His sake all that He became for ours.

VI. As you see, He offers you a Shepherd; for this is what your Good Shepherd,10 Nicetas says that this refers to S. Gregory’s Father, who had ordained him Priest, to assist him in the Cure of Souls, and whose one desire was that his Son might succeed him in the Bishopric. who lays down his life for his sheep, is hoping and praying for, and he asks from you his subjects; and he gives you himself double instead of single, and makes the staff of his old age a staff for your spirit. And he adds to the inanimate temple a living one; to that exceedingly beautiful and heavenly shrine, this poor and small one,11 S. Gregory’s father had, according to the same authority, rebuilt the Church at Nazianus with great splendour. He thinks that the expression “heavenly” may refer to the great dome. The “living temple” is of course S. Gregory himself. yet to him of great value, and built too with much sweat and many labours. Would that I could say it is worthy of his labours. And he places at your disposal all that belongs to him (O great generosity!—or it would be truer to say, O fatherly love!) his hoar hairs, his youth, the temple, the high priest, the testator, the heir, the discourses which you were longing for; and of these not such as are vain and poured out into the air, and which reach no further than the outward ear; but those which the Spirit writes and engraves on tables of stone, or of flesh, not merely superficially graven, nor easily to be rubbed off, but marked very deep, not with ink, but with grace.

VII. These are the gifts given you by this august Abraham, this honourable and reverend Head, this Patriarch, this Restingplace of all good, this Standard of virtue, this Perfection of the Priesthood, who to-day is bringing to the Lord his willing Sacrifice, his only Son,12 S. Gregory had an elder sister Gorgonia, and a younger brother Cæsarius, so that this expression must not be taken too literally, but is rather to be read in connection with the “promise,” his Mother having looked upon his birth as a special answer to prayer, and having dedicated him to God from his infancy. him of the promise. Do you on your side offer to God and to us obedience to your Pastors, dwelling in a place of herbage, and being fed by water of refreshment;13 Ps. xxiii. 2. knowing your Shepherd well, and being known by him;14 John x. 14. and following when he calls you as a Shepherd frankly through the door; but not following a stranger climbing up into the fold like a robber and a traitor; nor listening to a strange voice when such would take you away by stealth and scatter you from the truth on mountains,15 Ezek. xxxiv. 6. and in deserts, and pitfalls, and places which the Lord does not visit; and would lead you away from the sound Faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, the One Power and Godhead, Whose Voice my sheep always heard (and may they always hear it), but with deceitful and corrupt words would tear them from their true Shepherd. From which may we all be kept, Shepherd and flock, as from a poisoned and deadly pasture; guiding and being guided far away from it, that we may all be one in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and unto the heavenly rest. To Whom be the glory and the might for ever and ever. Amen.


Αʹ. Ἀναστάσεως ἡμέρα, καὶ ἡ ἀρχὴ δεξιὰ, καὶ λαμπρυνθῶμεν τῇ πανηγύρει, καὶ ἀλλήλους περιπτυξώμεθα: εἴπωμεν, ἀδελφοὶ, καὶ τοῖς μισοῦσιν ἡμᾶς, μὴ ὅτι τοῖς δι' ἀγάπην τι πεποιηκόσιν, ἢ πεπονθόσι: συγχωρήσωμεν πάντα τῇ ἀναστάσει: δῶμεν συγγνώμην ἀλλήλοις, ἐγώ τε ὁ τυραννηθεὶς τὴν καλὴν τυραννίδα, τοῦτο γὰρ νῦν προστίθημι, καὶ ὑμεῖς οἱ καλῶς τυραννήσαντες, εἴ τί μοι μέμφοισθε τῆς βραδυτῆτος, ὡς τάχα γε κρείττων αὕτη καὶ τιμιωτέρα Θεῷ τῆς ἑτέρων ταχυτῆτος: ἀγαθὸν γὰρ καὶ ὑποχωρῆσαι Θεῷ τι μικρὸν, ὡς Μωϋσῆς ἐκεῖνος τὸ παλαιὸν, καὶ Ἱερεμίας ὕστερον, καὶ προσδραμεῖν ἑτοίμως καλοῦντι, ὡς Ἀαρών τε καὶ Ἡσαΐας, μόνον εὐσεβῶς ἀμφότερα, τὸ μὲν διὰ τὴν οἰκείαν ἀσθένειαν, τὸ δὲ διὰ τὴν τοῦ καλοῦντος δύναμιν.

Βʹ. Μυστήριον ἔχρισέ με, μυστηρίῳ μικρὸν ὑπεχώρησα, ὅσον ἐμαυτὸν ἐπισκέψασθαι: μυστηρίῳ καὶ συνεισέρχομαι, καλὴν ἐπαγόμενος τῆς ἐμῆς δειλίας καὶ ἀσθενείας ἐπίκουρον τὴν ἡμέραν, ἵν' ὁ σήμερον ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστὰς κἀμὲ καινοποιήσῃ τῷ πνεύματι, καὶ τὸν καινὸν ἐνδύσας ἄνθρωπον, δῷ τῇ καινῇ κτίσει, τοῖς κατὰ Θεὸν γεννωμένοις, πλάστην ἀγαθὸν καὶ διδάσκαλον Χριστῷ καὶ συννεκρούμενον προθύμως καὶ συνανιστάμενον.

Γʹ. Χθὲς ὁ ἀμνὸς ἐσφάζετο, καὶ ἐχρίοντο αἱ φλιαὶ, καὶ ἐθρήνησεν Αἴγυπτος τὰ πρωτότοκα, καὶ ἡμᾶς παρῆλθεν ὁ ὀλοθρεύων, καὶ ἡ σφραγὶς φοβερὰ καὶ αἰδέσιμος, καὶ τῷ τιμίῳ αἵματι ἐτειχίσθημεν: σήμερον καθαρῶς ἐφύγομεν Αἴγυπτον, καὶ Φαραὼ τὸν πικρὸν δεσπότην, καὶ τοὺς βαρεῖς ἐπιστάτας, καὶ τοῦ πηλοῦ καὶ τῆς πλινθείας ἠλευθερώθημεν: καὶ οὐδεὶς ὁ κωλύσων ἡμᾶς ἑορτάζειν Κυρίῳ τῷ Θεῷ ἡμῶν ἑορτὴν τὴν ἐξόδιον, καὶ ἑορτάζειν, οὐκ ἐν ζύμῃ παλαιᾷ κακίας καὶ πονηρίας, ἀλλ' ἐν ἀζύμοις εἰλικρινείας καὶ ἀληθείας, μηδὲν ἐπιφερομένους Αἰγυπτιακοῦ καὶ ἀθέου φυράματος.

Δʹ. Χθὲς συνεσταυρούμην Χριστῷ, σήμερον συνδοξάζομαι: χθὲς συνενεκρούμην, συζωοποιοῦμαι σήμερον: χθὲς συνεθαπτόμην, σήμερον συνεγείρομαι. Ἀλλὰ καρποφορήσωμεν τῷ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν παθόντι καὶ ἀναστάντι. Χρυσόν με ἴσως οἴεσθε λέγειν, ἢ ἄργυρον, ἢ ὑφάσματα, ἢ λίθους τῶν διαφανῶν καὶ τιμίων, γῆς ῥέουσαν ὕλην, καὶ κάτω μένουσαν, ἧς ἀεὶ τὸ πλεῖον ἔχουσιν οἱ κακοὶ καὶ δοῦλοι τῶν κάτω καὶ τοῦ κοσμοκράτορος. Καρποφορήσωμεν ἡμᾶς αὐτοὺς, τὸ τιμιώτατον Θεῷ κτῆμα καὶ οἰκειότατον: ἀποδῶμεν τῇ εἰκόνι τὸ κατ' εἰκόνα, γνωρίσωμεν ἡμῶν τὸ ἀξίωμα, τιμήσωμεν τὸ ἀρχέτυπον, γνῶμεν τοῦ μυστηρίου τὴν δύναμιν, καὶ ὑπὲρ τίνος Χριστὸς ἀπέθανε.

Εʹ. Γενώμεθα ὡς Χριστὸς, ἐπεὶ καὶ Χριστὸς ὡς ἡμεῖς: γενώμεθα θεοὶ δι' αὐτὸν, ἐπειδὴ κἀκεῖνος δι' ἡμᾶς ἄνθρωπος. Προσέλαβε τὸ χεῖρον, ἵνα δῷ τὸ βέλτιον: ἐπτώχευσεν, ἵν' ἡμεῖς τῇ ἐκείνου πτωχείᾳ πλουτήσωμεν: δούλου μορφὴν ἔλαβεν, ἵνα τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ἡμεῖς ἀπολάβωμεν: κατῆλθεν, ἵν' ὑψωθῶμεν: ἐπειράσθη, ἵνα νικήσωμεν: ἠτιμάσθη, ἵνα δοξάσῃ: ἀπέθανεν, ἵνα σώσῃ: ἀνῆλθεν, ἵν' ἑλκύσῃ πρὸς ἑαυτὸν κάτω κειμένους ἐν τῷ τῆς ἁμαρτίας πτώματι. Πάντα διδότω τις, πάντα καρποφορείτω τῷ δόντι ἑαυτὸν λυτρὸν ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν καὶ ἀντάλλαγμα: δώσει δὲ οὐδὲν τοιοῦτον οἷον ἑαυτὸν τοῦ μυστηρίου συνιέντα, καὶ δι' ἐκεῖνον πάντα ὅσα ἐκεῖνος δι' ἡμᾶς γενόμενον.

2ʹ. Καρποφορεῖ μὲν ὑμῖν, ὡς ὁρᾶτε, ποιμένα: τοῦτο γὰρ ἐλπίζει καὶ εὔχεται, καὶ παρ' ὑμῶν αἰτεῖ τῶν ὑπὸ χεῖρα ὁ ποιμὴν ὁ καλὸς, ὁ τιθεὶς τὴν ψυχὴν ὑπὲρ τῶν προβάτων: καὶ διπλοῦν ἀνθ' ἁπλοῦ δίδωσιν ὑμῖν ἑαυτόν: καὶ ποιεῖται τὴν βακτηρίαν τοῦ γήρως βακτηρίαν τοῦ πνεύματος: καὶ προστίθησι τῷ ἀψύχῳ ναῷ τὸν ἔμψυχον, τῷ περικαλλεῖ, τῷ δὲ καὶ οὐρανίῳ, τὸν ὁποιονοῦν καὶ ἡλίκον, ἀλλ' οὖν τὸν ἑαυτῷ τιμιώτατον, καὶ αὐτὸν ἱδρῶσι πολλοῖς συντελεσθέντα, καὶ πόνοις, εἴη δὲ εἰπεῖν, ὅτι καὶ τῶν πόνων ἄξιον: καὶ πάντα προστίθησιν ὑμῖν τὰ ἑαυτοῦ. Ὢ τῆς μεγαλοψυχίας, ἢ, τό γε ἀληθέστερον εἰπεῖν, τῆς φιλοτεκνίας: τὴν πολιὰν, τὴν νεότητα, τὸν ναὸν, τὸν ἀρχιερέα, τὸν κληροδότην, τὸν κληρονόμον, τοὺς λόγους, οὓς ἐποθεῖτε: καὶ τούτων οὐ τοὺς εἰκῆ, καὶ εἰς ἀέρα ῥέοντας, καὶ μέχρι τῆς ἀκοῆς ἱσταμένους, ἀλλ' οὓς γράφει τὸ πνεῦμα, καὶ πλαξὶν ἐντυποῖ λιθίναις, εἴτουν σαρκίναις, οὐκ ἐξ ἐπιπολῆς χαρασσομένους, οὐδὲ ῥᾳδίως ἀπαλειφομένους, ἀλλ' εἰς βάθος ἐνσημαινομένους, οὐ μέλανι, ἀλλὰ χάριτι.

Ζʹ. Ταῦτα μὲν οὖν ὑμῖν ὁ σεμνὸς Ἀβραὰμ οὗτος, ὁ πατριάρχης, ἡ τιμία κεφαλὴ καὶ αἰδέσιμος, τὸ πάντων τῶν καλῶν καταγώγιον, ὁ τῆς ἀρετῆς κανὼν, ἡ τῆς ἱερωσύνης τελείωσις, ὁ τὴν ἑκούσιον θυσίαν προσάγων τῷ Κυρίῳ σήμερον, τὸν μονογενῆ, τὸν ἐκ τῆς ἐπαγγελίας. Ὑμεῖς δὲ καρποφορεῖτε καὶ Θεῷ καὶ ἡμῖν τὸ καλῶς ποιμαίνεσθαι, εἰς τόπον χλόης κατασκηνούμενοι, καὶ ἐπὶ ὕδατος ἀναπαύσεως ἐκτρεφόμενοι, γινώσκοντες καλῶς τὸν ποιμένα, καὶ γινωσκόμενοι, καὶ ἑπόμενοι καλοῦντι ποιμενικῶς καὶ ἐλευθερίως διὰ τῆς θύρας: ἀλλοτρίῳ δὲ μὴ ἀκολουθοῦντες ὑπερβαίνοντι διὰ τῆς αὐλῆς, λῃστρικῶς τε καὶ ἐπιβούλως, μηδὲ ξένης φωνῆς ἀκούοντες, ὑποκλεπτούσης καὶ διασπειρούσης ἀπὸ τῆς ἀληθείας εἰς ὄρη, καὶ ἐρημίας, καὶ βάραθρα, καὶ τόπους, οὓς οὐκ ἐπισκοπεῖ Κύριος, καὶ ἀπὸ μὲν τῆς ὑγιοῦς πίστεως ἀπαγούσης, τῆς εἰς Πατέρα, καὶ Υἱὸν, καὶ ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, τὴν μίαν θεότητά τε καὶ δύναμιν, ἧς ἤκουσεν ἀεὶ φωνῆς, καὶ ἀκούοι τὰ ἐμὰ πρόβατα, λόγοις δὲ κιβδήλοις καὶ κατεφθαρμένοις συλαγωγούσης καὶ διασπώσης ἀπὸ τοῦ ἀληθινοῦ καὶ πρώτου ποιμένος: ὧν εἴη πάντας ἡμᾶς, καὶ ποιμένας καὶ ποίμνιον, ὡς νοσερᾶς πόας καὶ θανασίμου πόῤῥω, καὶ νεμομένους καὶ νέμοντας, ἓν εἶναι πάντας ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ νῦν τε καὶ εἰς τὴν ἐκεῖθεν ἀνάπαυσιν: ᾧ ἡ δόξα καὶ τὸ κράτος εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν.