Thursday, September 10, 2009

Notes on Oration 43 of St. Gregory the Theologian

Funeral Oration for St. Basil the Great, by St. Gregory the Theologian
*Present form was probably not the original; some amplification occurred – serious illness prevented him attending the funeral of St. Basil the Great
*The great St. Basil would give him topics to discuss, and the most challenging (in fact, impossible) is giving enough praise to his person – a sacred debt – the magnificence of St. Basil is ineffable – closest of friends, St. Basil was a mentor who often corrected him –
*St. Basil taught that we must judge nobility based on individual merit, not prestige of birth – he had excellent role models who were generous to the poor, but their most eminent feature was the greatness of their children
*Basil his father (second prize), and St. Emmelia
*Distinguished Christian philosopher – thank God for Athens, since it was because of this city that Gregory got to know Basil – he was respected by most students just because of his reputation, and he won disputes with ease
*Attached to St. Basil like a polyp – they were both focused on becoming saints
*He fed the hungry, like a second St. Joseph the Patriarch – showed that God, not human favor, gave him his episcopal see
*Humble, not willing to blame St. Gregory
*Won over his opponents by magnanimity and chivalry instead of flattery and servility
*Brave enough to openly defy the emperor Valens and the prefect – nothing will get him to abandon his faith, and death will only help him, since it will send him to Heaven – prefect Modestus came to respect Basil
*Basil not at all distracted when Emperor Valens entered the Church in the middle of the Liturgy – Basil's words to him led to Valens greatly reducing his persecution of Christians
*Valens' son died because of Valens' plots against St. Basil, because Valens mixed in the advice of the heterodox with the advice of the orthodox
*Basil miraculously healed the prefect Modestus, who convinced many others of the wondrous powers and virtues of Basil
*Basil exiled, more concerned with the Cross than riches
*Basil a virgin who fasted, free of passions/concupiscence
*Gregory calls himself inferior to St. Basil in all respects except distress
*Established monastic communities and hospitals, a great philanthropist – Basil kissed and cleansed lepers
*Basil the most pure and enlightened of all time – a great theologian
*Basil prudently avoided saying in so many words "the Holy Spirit is God" because he knew that if he said so, he might easily be expelled from the city and the heretics would take over the city – he nevertheless taught and proved that the Holy Spirit is God, despite not using that express phrase in public – he used it in private, however, with Gregory and others
*Compares him to Old Testament Sts. Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Aaron, Joseph, etc.
*Zealous like Peter and intense like Paul, lofty utterances like Sts. John the Theologian and James the Greater
*Not a martyr like St. Stephen the Protomartyr because people revered him too much to kill him
*Many people look like Basil in outward appearance, while falling short of his universal virtues
*Miraculously stronger in his last words, despite being extremely physically weak
*Gives his humble offering to St. Basil and begs for his intercession, and awaits with joy seeing him in the next life as they behold the Blessed Trinity

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