Feast of Saint Gregory Nazianzen, Bishop, Confessor & Doctor of the Church: Missa “In medio Ecclesiae“
After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil’s invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory’s father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force, and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skillfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians.
An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.
When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend’s home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city, but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults, and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.
His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.”
INTROIT Ecclesiasticus 15: 5
In the midst of the Church the Lord opened his mouth: and filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding: He clothed him with a robe of glory.. (Ps. 91: 2) It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to Thy Name, O Most High. v. Glory be…etc
O God, Who didst give blessed Gregory to be a minister of everlasting salvation unto Thy people, grant, we beseech Thee, that, as we have had him for our teacher on earth, we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in Heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
EPISTLE Ecclesiasticus 39: 6-14
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. The just man will give his heart to resort early to the Lord that made him, and he will pray in the sight of the Most High. He will open his mouth in prayer, and will make supplication for his sins. For if it shall please the great Lord, He will fill him with the spirit of understanding: and he will pour forth the words of His wisdom as showers, and in his prayer he will confess to the Lord. And He shall direct his counsel, and his knowledge, and in His secrets shall he meditate. He shall show forth the discipline he hath learned, and shall glory in the law of the covenant of the Lord. Many shall praise his wisdom, and it shall never be forgotten. The memory of him shall not pass away, and his name shall be in request from generation to generation. Nations shall declare his wisdom, and the Church shall show forth his praise.
Alleluia, alleluia. V. (Ecclus. 45: 9) The Lord loved him and adorned him: he clothed with a robe of glory. Alleluia. (Osee 14: 6) The just shall spring as a lily: and shall flourish forever before the Lord. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 5: 13-19
At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: “You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt lose its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden by men. You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain can not be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house; so let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father Who is in heaven. Do not think that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For, amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall not pass of the law till all be fulfilled. He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Psalm 91:13
The innocent man will flourish like the palm tree flourishes, he will grow to greatness as the cedars grow on Lebanon, alleluia.
May the loving prayers of Gregory, Thy Doctor, not be wanting to us, O Lord, to commend our gifts and ever to obtain pardon for us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, and profitable unto salvation, that we should at all times, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, through Christ, our Lord. Though whom the angels praise thy majesty, the dominions adore it, the powers are in awe. Which the heavens and the hosts of heaven together with the blessed seraphim joyfully do magnify. And do thou command that it be permitted to us join with them in confessing thee, while we say with lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Luke 12:42
A faithful and wise steward, whom the Lord set over His family; to give them their measure of wheat in due season, alleluia.
That Thy sacrifices may give us health O Lord, may blessed Gregory, Thy illustrious doctor, we beseech Thee, act as our intercessor. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen.