Gregory of Nyssa

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Church History

“Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.” (Acts 16:30–34)

Last week we looked at the over-achieving Venn family, today we will consider one more. On this day in AD395 Gregory of Nyssa breathed his last, aged around sixty. He was the son of aristocratic, Christian parents and his father’s mother was venerated as a saint: St Macrina the Elder. His mother’s mother had been martyred for her faith by the Romans.

Gregory himself was elected bishop of Nyssa in 372, and was already well known for his defence of the doctrine of the Trinity: God is one essence in three persons. This work of defence he shared with his elder brother, St Basil the Great, and their close friend St Gregory Nazianzus. So, two brothers who are now venerated as saints, and whose grandmother is also so venerated - quite a claim!

Yet there is more. Their sister was a renowned nun and spiritual educator, St Macrina the Younger. She had a great influence on another brother who devoted himself to the study of the Bible and went on to become a bishop: St Peter of Sebaste. Another brother, became a hermit and a scholar: St Naucratius. So it was that five of these siblings are today honoured as saints in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Quite a family, but united in their wholehearted devotion to Christ and to the Scripture. It is for that they are remembered to this day.

Fishing in the Sea of Galilee

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad.” (Matthew 13:47–48) - There was money to be made from fishing, but it was hard-earned. The work was heavy, difficult and tiring. It took time and preparation. When Jesus promised the disciples they would be fishers of men, he didn’t have in mind a pleasant day casting a line into the Wye. This was work.


“The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26) - Here, then, is a challenging thought: if you moved into a new village, and no-one knew you or your background, would they come to the same conclusion? Would you be more noted for being a follower of Christ, than someone who has (or had) a particular job or a distinct hobby. Would you be nicknamed “Christian” because it is clear that he is the central guide and impulse of your life?

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