Thoughts for the Day

Wednesday, 19th July 2023: Gregory and Macrina, Teachers of the Faith

Saint Gregory Spiritual growth Teaching John 17 Jesus Saint

Reading : Verses from John, Chapter 17

Saint Gregory

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, ‘I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent then into the world....

‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

(New Revised Standard Version)


'Gregory of Nyssa was born at Caesarea in what is now Turkey, around the year 330, the child of an aristocratic Christian family. Unlike his elder brother Basil, he was academically undistinguished, but ultimately proved to be the most original of the theologians known as the Cappadocian Fathers. He was introduced to the spiritual life by his elder sister Macrina who exercised a formative influence upon him, and with whom he maintained close bonds of friendship throughout his life. It was she who, after the death of their father, converted the household into a sort of monastery on one of the family estates.

Gregory married a deeply spiritual woman, Theosebia, and at first refused ordination, choosing to pursue a secular career. He was ordained later, and in 372 CE was chosen to be Bishop of Nyssa. In the year 379 CE both his brother Basil and his sister Macrina died, and this deeply affected him; but out of this darkness emerged a profound spirituality. For Gregory, God is met not as an object to be understood, but as a mystery to be loved. He died in the year 394 CE.'
(From 'Exciting Holiness: Collects and Readings for Festivals')

As 21st century Christians, all too often we want complete answers to every difficult subject in our life, and we can argue and discuss issues until we destroy the subject. Gregory reminds us that God is a mystery to be loved.

Jesus gave his authority to his disciples to teach and preach the faith. 250 years later Gregory and Macrina passed on what they had learnt from those early Christians, and in the year 2023 we too are called to pass on what we have learnt about our faith


Collect for today:

Lord of eternity, creator of all things,
in your son Jesus Christ
You open for us the way to resurrection
that we may enjoy your bountiful goodness:
may we who celebrate your servants Gregory and Macrina
press onwards in faith to your boundless love
and ever wonder at the miracle of your presence among us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the holy spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Follow Up Thoughts

The Church was still developing its understanding of God, as shown in the Nicene Creed which we say each week in the Communion Service, so any look at the subject of the Cappadocian Fathers touches upon difficult subjects. However, the following site attempts to simplify the life and work of the Fathers, and there are enough points to click on to understand different terms. It was initially written to explain things to visiting tourists!

Here is another site with click-on buttons to help understand difficult concepts.

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