saints’ day

Today was the feast day of Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil the Great.  A wonderful excuse for incense at the evening eucharist and a celebration of all that is splendid in orthodox theology.

The biography in Exciting Holiness — a book of collects and readings for Saints days — begins like this:

Gregory and Basil were two friends bound together by their desire to promote and defend the divinity of Christ as proclaimed in the Nicene Creed.  This was against the seemingly overwhelming pressure from both Church and State for the establishment of Arianism, which denied Christ’s divinity and thus the whole Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

It made me think about how often impressive people come in pairs.  Somehow, it is both the friction and support of friendship that stirs creativity and gives people the strength and energy to face opposition.

But maybe it is also friendship that teaches us we can survive the stress of opposition — that life goes on, that relationships can endure even when faced with anger and pain and misunderstanding.

Basil’s collect begins:

God, who in making us
wounded our hearts with the hidden spark of divine love…

Given the place of the divine spark in orthodox theology — given an anthropology that says that at our root we are made in the image of God, that there is an unquellable spark of the divine life within us —  this suggests that the very thing that nurtures love, that flames the spark, is the wound love sometimes causes.  I am not being clear.  But there is something in this that is compelling.

And as I’ve said before, understanding is overrated.

5 thoughts on “saints’ day”

  1. I was glad to find out about G & N – and loved the midweek incense! And I think I know what you’re getting at – but it’s far too late to attempt any development. 🙂

  2. Sorry to have missed the incense but I’m afraid I was worshipping at the altar of St Jam the Strawberry.

  3. And you know how to be a real friend yourself.

    I think relationship is at the center of our faith. And certainly it is appropriate that it be considered in the context of the Trinity – how appropriate for this feast day.

    Who wrote that book? I’d be interested in looking at it for our library.

  4. Which reminds me – what do you think of Moltmann and the social model of the Trinity (or whatever the official name is; I’ve forgotten)?

  5. Sarah, I love how you throw these teeny tiny theological questions at me as asides. Short answer: I think Moltmann is like Satre. You might ultimately disagree with him, but first you should learn every last scrap you can from him. I find lots of he work on the trinity worthwhile, and some of it essential.

    Di, it is always a delight when you worship at St Jam of the blessed berry. I suspect the smell will have rivaled the incense.

    For anyone who is interested in the bibliography:
    Exciting Holiness
    (which rejoices in the subtitle ‘Collects and Reading for the Festivals and Lesser Festivals of the Calendars of The Church of England, The Church of Ireland, The Scottish Episcopal Church and The Church in Wales’)
    Canterbury Press, Norwich
    ISBN 1-85311-479-0

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