Saint Gregory the Theologian(of Nazianzus), Archbishop of Constantinople
St Gregory received the best education available, at the University of Athens, where St Basil, his lifelong friend, and Julian, the future emperor, were fellow-students. In 359 AD he left Athens and became a monk, living a solitary life with St Basil at Pontus. After two years, St Gregory returned home to help his aging father manage his diocese. Against his wishes he was ordained a priest and then fled to St Basil for 10 weeks. He returned to his new duties and wrote an apologia, titled “Defence of the Flight to Pontos”, saying that no one can undertake to shepherd the spiritual flock without becoming a temple of the living God, “a habitation of Christ in the Spirit”. He also said, “It is necessary first to be purified, then to purify; to be made wise, then to make wise; to become light, then to enlighten; to approach God, then to bring others to Him; to be sanctified, then to sanctify”. This treatise became a classic on the nature and duties of the priesthood.
After St Basil became Archbishop of Caesarea, he had St Gregory consecrated Bishop of Sasima, but St Gregory continued to help his father with his duties. Following the death of his father in 374 AD, St Gregory lived a solitary life in Seleucia until about 380 AD. After the death of the persecuting emperor Valens, peace returned to the Church, but Constantinople was dominated by Arians. Neighbouring Bishops sent for St Gregory to restore Constantinople’s Christian community. Protesting, he moved to Constantinople, where he preached his famous sermons on the Trinity. His reputation spread and his audience increased, but the Arians attacked him by slander, insults, and violence. He persisted in preaching the faith and doctrine of Nicea (later known as the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed). In 381 AD, the Council of Constantinople proclaimed the conclusions of Nicea as authentic Christian doctrine. During the council, St Gregory was appointed Bishop of Constantinople and installed in the basilica of St Sophia. Opposition to him, however, continued. He resigned for the sake of peace after restoring Orthodoxy in the capital.
He returned to Cappadocia, which was still without a Bishop, where he administered the See until a successor was appointed in c. 384 AD. He then retired to his estates and spent his time reading and writing. His writing included religious poetry (later to become Orthodox hymns), his autobiography, epistles, essays and sermons. He died at Cappadocia.
Dismissal Hymn (First Tone)
The sweet-sounding shepherd’s pipe of your theology overpowered the trumpeting of the orators; for having searched the depths of the Spirit eloquence was also bestowed upon you. Pray to Christ God, Father Gregory, that our souls may be saved.
Kontakion (Third Tone)
By words of theology, you unravelled the complex webs of the orators, glorious Gregory, and adorned the Church with the robe of Orthodoxy woven from on high. Wearing it, she cries out with us, her children, “Rejoice, O Father, supreme mind of theology”.
The Synaxis of the New Martyrs of Russia
On the Sunday that falls nearest to January 25, we commemorate all the faithful throughout the former Russian Empire who died at the hands of the atheists, beginning in the year 1917. Among them are the Royal Family (see July 4), followed by Patriarch Tikhon the Confessor (see Mar. 24), and an innumerable multitude of clergy, monastics, and layfolk who confessed the Name of Christ in the face of every conceivable mockery, torment, and bitter death.
Apolytikion of The Synaxis of the New Martyrs of Russia in the Third Tone
In these latter times, a host of Martyrs, * newly crowned with grace, rejoice in Heaven, * glorified with diverse forms of martyrdom; * for having censured the madness of godless foes, * they gained the laurels of triumph and victory. * Hence, they fervently entreat Christ for us unceasingly, * to grant great mercy unto us who sing their praise.
Kontakion of The Synaxis of the New Martyrs of Russia in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
The choirs of Martyrs who contested in the ancient times * welcome the hosts of victors newly crowned by Christ our God, * and they form one common festival in divine joy. * For these ranks which fought for faith throughout the Russian land * set at nought the wicked schemes of godless tyranny. * Hence, we cry to them: * Rejoice, ye Passion-bearers of the Lord.
We also celebrate today:
- Kastinos, Archbishop of Constantinople