OREMUS: 2 January 2006

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Sun Jan 1 18:43:53 GMT 2006

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OREMUS for Monday, January 2, 2005
Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops, 379 and 389

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, loving and merciful God,
you fill our hearts with joy
as we recognize in Christ the revelation of your love.
No eye can see his glory as our God,
yet now he is seen like one of us.
Christ is your Son before all ages,
yet now he is born in time.
He has come to lift up all things to himself,
to restore unity to creation,
and to lead us from exile into your heavenly kingdom.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 66

Be joyful in God, all you lands;*
 sing the glory of his name;
   sing the glory of his praise.
Say to God, 'How awesome are your deeds!*
 because of your great strength
   your enemies cringe before you.
'All the earth bows down before you,*
 sings to you, sings out your name.'
Come now and see the works of God,*
 how wonderful he is in his doing towards all people.
He turned the sea into dry land,
   so that they went through the water on foot,*
 and there we rejoiced in him.
In his might he rules for ever;
   his eyes keep watch over the nations;*
 let no rebel rise up against him.
Bless our God, you peoples;*
 make the voice of his praise to be heard;
Who holds our souls in life,*
 and will not allow our feet to slip.
For you, O God, have proved us;*
 you have tried us just as silver is tried.
You brought us into the snare;*
 you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.
You let enemies ride over our heads;
   we went through fire and water;*
 but you brought us out into a place of refreshment.
I will enter your house with burnt-offerings
   and will pay you my vows,*
 which I promised with my lips
   and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble.
I will offer you sacrifices of fat beasts
   with the smoke of rams;*
 I will give you oxen and goats.
Come and listen, all you who fear God,*
 and I will tell you what he has done for me.
I called out to him with my mouth,*
 and his praise was on my tongue.
If I had found evil in my heart,*
 the Lord would not have heard me;
But in truth God has heard me;*
 he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer,*
 nor withheld his love from me.

A Song of Baruch (Baruch 5.5,6c,7-9

Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height:
look to the east and see your children,

Gathered from the west and the east
at the word of the Holy One.

They rejoice that God has remembered them
and has brought them back to you.

For God has ordered that every high mountain
and the everlasting hills be made low,

And the valleys filled up to make level ground
so that they may walk safely in the glory of God.

The woods and every fragrant tree
have shaded them at God's command.

For God will lead his people with joy
in the light of his glory
with the mercy and righteousness that comes from God.

Psalm 150

   Praise God in his holy temple;*
 praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts;*
 praise him for his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the blast of the ram's-horn;*
 praise him with lyre and harp.
Praise him with timbrel and dance;*
 praise him with strings and pipe.
Praise him with resounding cymbals;*
 praise him with loud-clanging cymbals.
Let everything that has breath*
 praise the Lord.

READING [James 3:13-18]:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your
works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy
and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth.
Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual,
devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be
disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first
pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits,
without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is
sown in peace for those who make peace

For another Biblical reading,

Words: Philipp Nicolai, 1597;
paraphrased in Psalmodia Germanica, 1722
and altered by William Mercer, 1855, 1859.
Tune: Wie schoen leuchtet
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How bright appears the Morning Star,
with mercy beaming from afar;
the host of heaven rejoices;
O righteous Branch, O Jesse's Rod!
Thou Son of Man and Son of God!
We, too, will lift our voices:
Jesus, Jesus!
Holy, holy, yet most lowly,
draw thou near us;
great Emmanuel, come and hear us.

Though circled by the hosts on high,
he deigned to cast a pitying eye
upon his helpless creature;
the whole creation's Head and Lord,
by highest seraphim adored,
assumed our very nature;
Jesus, grant us,
through thy merit, to inherit
thy salvation;
hear, O hear our supplication.

Rejoice, ye heavens; thou earth, reply;
with praise, ye sinners, fill the sky,
for this his Incarnation.
Incarnate God, put forth thy power,
ride on, ride on, great Conqueror,
till all know thy salvation.
Amen, amen!
Alleluia, alleluia!
Praise be given
evermore, by earth and heaven.

The Benedictus (Morning),
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may

Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given.
Let us offer our prayers for the needs of the world.

Wonderful Counselor,
give your wisdom to the rulers of the nations...
We pray especially for the people of Palestine.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Mighty God,
make the whole world know
that the government is on your shoulders...
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Everlasting Father,
establish your reign of justice and righteousness for ever...
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Prince of Peace,
bring in the endless kingdom of your peace...
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

Lord of the Church,
hear our prayer,
and make us one in heart and mind
to serve you with joy for ever.
Lord, in your mercy
hear our prayer.

God of power and life, 
the glory of all who believe in you: 
Fill the world with your splendor 
and show the nations the light of your truth; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord, 
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, now and forever. Amen.

Lord God, whose servants Basil and Gregory
proclaimed the mystery of your Word made flesh,
to build up your Church in wisdom and strength:
grant that we may rejoice in his presence among us,
and so be brought with them to know the power
of your unending love;
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. Amen.

Rejoicing in the presence of God here among us,
let us pray in faith and trust:

- The Lord's Prayer

May he who by his incarnation gathered into one
things earthly and heavenly,
bestow upon us the fullness of peace and goodwill. Amen.

The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray),
(c) The Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing sentence are adapted from
_The Promise of His Glory_ (Mowbray), (c) The Central
Board of Finance  of the Church of England 1990, 1991, which is used with

The collect is from _The Book of Alternative Services of The
Anglican Church of Canada_.
The second collect is from _Common Worship: Services and Prayers for
the Church of England_, material from which is included in this service is
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

Gregory of Nazianzus, his friend Basil the Great, and Basil's brother Gregory
of Nyssa, are jointly known as the Cappadocian Fathers (Cappadocia is a
region in what is now Central Turkey).
Gregory lived in a turbulent time. In 312, Constantine, having won a battle that
made him Emperor of the West, issued a decree that made it no longer a crime
to be a Christian. In 325 he summoned a council of Bishops at Nicea, across
the straits from Byzantium (Constantinople, Istanbul), to settle the dispute
between those (led by Athanasius) who taught that the Logos (the "Word" of
John 1:1, who "was made flesh and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus of
Nazareth) was completely God, in the same sense in which the Father is God,
and those (led by Arius) who taught that the Logos is a being created by God
the Father. The bishops assembled at Nicea declared that the view of
Athanasius was that which they had received from their predecessors as the
true Faith handed down from the Apostles.
The Arians did not accept defeat quietly. They created a sufficient disturbance
so that Constantine, at first inclined to support the decision of the Council,
decided that peace could best be obtained by adopting a Creed which simply
evaded the issue. After his death in 336, he was succeeded by various of his
relatives, some of whom sided with the Athanasians and some with the Arians,
and one of whom (Julian the Apostate, Emperor 361-363) attempted to restore
paganism as the religion of the Empire. The situation was complicated by the
fact that missionaries to the Goths were first sent out in large numbers during
the reign of an Arian Emperor, with the result that the Goths were converted
to Arian Christianity. Since the professional Army was composed chiefly of
Goth mercenaries, and the Army held the balance of power, this was a real
Gregory of Nazianzus was born about 330. He went to school in Athens with
his friend Basil, and with the aforesaid Julian. He and Basil compiled an
anthology, called the PHILOKALIA, of the works of the great (but somewhat
erratic) Alexandrian theologian, philosopher, and scholar of the previous
century, Origen. Later, he went home to assist his father, a bishop, in his
struggles against Arianism. Meanwhile, his friend Basil had become
Archbishop of (Cappadocian) Caesarea. Faced with a rival Arian bishop at
Tyana, he undertook to consolidate his position by maneuvering Gregory into
the position of Bishop of Sasima, an unhealthy settlement on the border
between the two jurisdictions. Gregory called Sasima "a detestable little place
without water or grass or any mark of civilization." He felt "like a bone flung
to dogs." He refused to reside at Sasima. Basil accused him of shirking his
duty. He accused Basil of making him a pawn in ecclesiastical politics. Their
friendship suffered a severe breach, which took some time to heal. Gregory
suffered a breakdown and retired to recuperate.
In 379, after the death of the Arian Emperor Valens, Gregory was asked to go
to Constantinople to preach there. For thirty years, the city had been controlled
by Arians or pagans, and the orthodox did not even have a church there.
Gregory went. He converted his own house there into a church and held
services in it. There he preached the Five Theological Orations for which he is
best known, a series of five sermons on the Trinity and in defense of the deity
of Christ. People flocked to hear him preach, and the city was largely won over
to the Athanasian (Trinitarian, catholic, orthodox) position by his powers of
persuasion. The following year, he was consecrated bishop of Constantinople.
He presided at the Council of Constantinple in 381, which confirmed the
Athanasian position of the earlier Council of Nicea in 325. Having
accomplished what he believed to be his mission at Constantinople, and heartily
sick of ecclesiastical politics, Gregory resigned and retired to his home town of
Nazianzus, where he died in 389.
Basil was born in Caesarea of Cappadocia, a province in what is now central
Turkey (more or less directly north of the easternmost part of the
Mediterranean, but with no seacoast). He was born in 329, after the
persecution of Christians had ceased, but with parents who could remember
the persecutions and had lived through them. He originally planned to become
a lawyer and orator, and studied at Athens (351-356), where two of his
classmates were Gregory of Nazianzus (who became a close friend) and the
future Emperor Julian the Apostate. When he returned home, the influence and
example of his sister Macrina led him to seek the monastic life instead, and
after making a tour of the monasteries of Egypt in 357, he founded a monastic
settlement near his home. He remained there only five years, but the influence
of his community was enormous. Whereas in the West there are numerous
monastic orders (Benedictines, Carthusians, etc.), in the East all monks are
Basilian monks. His Longer Rules and Shorter Rules for the monastic life
remain the standard. Basil expresses a definite preference for the communal life
of the monastery over the solitary life of the hermit, arguing that the Christian
life of mutual love and service is communal by its nature. In 367-8, when
Cappadocia suffered a severe and widespread famine, Basil sold his family's
very extensive land holdings in order to buy food for the starving, persuading
many others to follow his example, and putting on an apron to work in the
soup kitchen himself. In this crisis, he absolutely refused to allow any
distinction to be made between Jew and Christian, saying that the digestive
systems of the two are indistinguishable. He also built a hospital for the care of
the sick, housing for the poor, and a hospice for travelers.
These were the years between the First Ecumenical Council (Nicea, 325) and
the Second (Constantinople, 381), years in which it was uncertain whether the
Church would stand by the declaration made at Nicea that the Logos (the
"Word" -- see John 1:1) was fully God, equally with the Father, or seek a more
flexible formula in the hope of reconciliation with the Arians, who declared
themselves unalterably opposed to the Nicene wording. Basil had been
ordained priest in 362 in order to assist the new Bishop of Caesarea, whom he
succeeded in 370. (Since Caesarea was the capital, or metropolis, of the
province of Cappadocia, its bishop was automatically the metropolitan of
Cappadocia, which included about fifty dioceses (bishoprics). A metropolitan
was roughly what we would call an archbishop, although in ancient
terminology an "archbishop" was one step above a metropolitan.) By that time,
an Arian emperor, Valens, was ruling. Basil made it his policy to try to unite
the so-called semi-Arians with the Nicene party against the outright Arians,
making use of the formula "three persons (hypostases) in one substance
(ousia)," thus explicitly acknowledging a distinction between the Father and
the Son (a distinction that the Nicene party had been accused of blurring), and
at the same time insisting on their essential unity.
When the emperor Valens passed through Caesarea in 371, he demanded the
theological submission of Basil, who flatly refused. The imperial prefect
expressed astonishment at Basil's defiance, to which Basil replied, "Perhaps
you have never met a real bishop before." Valens retaliated by dividing the
province of Cappadocia into two provinces, with the result that the Arian
Bishop of Tyana became metropolitan of the new province of Western
Cappadocia. Basil responded by going political. He ramrodded his brother
Gregory of Nyssa and his friend Gregory of Nazianzus into bishoprics that they
did not want, and for which they were totally unsuited, so that he would have
the votes of those bishoprics when he needed them. (Neither Gregory ever
quite forgave him for this.) His interests were not exclusively theological: he
denounced and excommunicated those who owned houses of prostitution, he
worked to secure justice for the poor against those who oppressed them, and
he severely disciplined clergy who used their office to accumulate money or to
live too well at the expense of the faithful.
His most famous writings include the Hexaemeron ("The Six Days"), a series
of nine sermons on the days of creation, in which he speaks of the beauties of
the created world as revelations of the splendor of God. His Against Eunomius
defends the deity of Christ against an Arian writer, and his On The Holy Spirit
speaks of the deity of the Third Person of the Trinity, and the rightness of
worshipping Him together with the Father and the Son. In his Address To
Young Men (originally written for his nephews), he urges Christians to make
themselves acquainted with pagan philosophy and literature, arguing that this
will often lead to a deeper understanding of Christian truth. His personality
comes through most clearly in his letters, of which more than three hundred
have been preserved. Some deal with points of theology or ethics, some with
canon law, and many simply with everyday affairs. Ten times a year the Eastern
churches use the Liturgy of St. Basil rather than the more usual Liturgy of St.
John Chrysostom. It differs chiefly in having a more elaborate Anaphora (the
prayer of consecration offered over the bread and wine), expressing some of
his characteristic turns of thought, probably dating back to his time and used by
him, and possibly composed by him personally.
Basil died in 379, shortly after the death in battle of the Arian Valens removed
the chief threat to the Nicene faith to which Basil had devoted his life. He was
mourned by the entire city, and the weeping crowds at his funeral included
Christians, Jews, and pagans. [James Kiefer]

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