Feast of St. Gregory of Nyssa and The Communion of Saints
Today the Church celebrates the life and times of St. Gregory of Nyssa (325-386AD), one of the three Cappadocian Fathers. He wrote extensively against the Arian heresy (a belief that Jesus was not truly God, but a created being) that threatened to undo the orthodoxy of the early Church.
With Father Neuhaus' home-going on my mind, I was perusing the writings of St. Greg and came upon his homily at a funeral for a friend and leader of the Church, St. Miletius. Here's a snippet from the sermon:
"Our Bridegroom has not been taken from us. He stands in our midst, though we see him not. The Priest is within the holy place. He is entered into that within the veil, whither our forerunner Christ has entered for us. He has left behind him the curtain of the flesh. No longer does he pray to the type or shadow of the things in heaven, but he looks upon the very embodiment of these realities. No longer through a glass darkly does he intercede with God, but face to face he intercedes with Him: and he intercedes for us , and for the "negligences and ignorances" of the people. He has put away the coats of skin; no need is there now for the dwellers in paradise of such I garments as these; but he wears the raiment which the purity of his life has woven into a glorious dress. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death" of such a man, or rather it is not death, but the breaking of bonds, as it is said,"
I think of Father Neuhaus, now interceding for us, not through a glass darkly, but face to face with God he intercedes for us. The early Christians knew they could ask for prayer from those who had gone before them. We still believe in the communion of saints some 1700 years after this homily was given!
Labels: early church