Even fearful events are not useless for the wise; I would say they are highly beneficial and healthy! For although we certainly pray that they not happen, we learn something when they do. “The afflicted soul is near to God,” says Peter in a truly wonderful passage, and everyone who escapes danger is all the more attached to the one who has saved him from it.
Let us not be troubled, then, by the fact that we sometimes experience evil, but let us give thanks that we have escaped it. Let us not show ourselves to God in one way in the moment of danger, and in another after dangers are over; but whether we are at home or away, living as private citizens or carrying out public duties (for I must speak this way, and not give up doing so12), let us make up our minds to follow the one who has saved us, taking little account of little, earthbound events. And we should give those who come after us a story to tell, something great for our own glory but also great for the profit of their souls. For this event can be a very useful instruction for many, teaching them that danger is better than safety and misfortune preferable to success, for the simple reason that before our terrors we belonged to the world, but after them we belong to God.
Perhaps we will seem heavy-handed in writing often to you about these same subjects, and you may think our words not exhortation but rhetorical show. For that reason, enough of this! Know that we are eager, and hoping very much, to visit you, so that we can rejoice with you over your safety and have the chance for more satisfactory conversation on these things. In any case, we hope to receive you here very soon, and celebrate our thanks to God together.
Even frights are not without use to the wise; or, as I should say, they are very valuable and beneficial. For, although we pray that they may not happen, yet when they do, they instruct us. “For the afflicted soul,” as Peter somewhere admirably says, “is near to God”1; and every man who escapes a danger is brought into nearer relation to Him Who preserved him.
Let us not be troubled, then, by the fact that we sometimes experience evil, but let us give thanks that we have escaped it.
Let us not show ourselves to God in one way in the moment of danger, and in another after dangers are over; but whether we are at home or away, living as private citizens or carrying out public duties, let us make up our minds to follow the One Who has saved us, taking little account of little, earthbound events; and let us prepare a story to those who come after us — great for our glory and the benefit of our soul, and at the same time a very useful lesson to all — that danger is better than security, and that misfortune is preferable to success, at least if before our fears we belonged to the world, but after them we belong to God.
Perhaps I seem to you somewhat of a bore, by writing to you so often on the same subject, and you will think my letter a piece not of exhortation but of ostentation, so enough of this. You will know that I desire and wish especially that I might be with you and share your joy at your preservation, and to talk over these matters later on. But since that cannot be, I hope to receive you here as soon as may be, and to celebrate our thanksgiving together.
Gregory Nazianzen, “Select Letters of Saint Gregory Nazianzen,” in S. Cyril of Jerusalem, S. Gregory Nazianzen, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Charles Gordon Browne and James Edward Swallow, vol. 7, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1894), 459.
- Cf. Ps 33:18: “The Lord is near to them that are of a contrite heart; and will save the lowly in spirit.” ↩
With great joy, we announce the beginning of classes at the St. Basil Catechetical School on Thursday, September 15.
What on earth is a catechetical school?!
A catechetical school is simply a Christian school that educates people in the Christian Faith. In the Early Church, the Catechetical School of Alexandria, which some believe was founded by the Holy Apostle Mark himself, was the oldest and most illustrious of these schools. Its teachers, which included luminaries like Pantaenus, Athenagoras, Didymus the Blind, and Origen, were sought out by students from all over the world. One of the most notable students of the Catechetical School of Alexandria is our own patron saint, the Holy Gregory the Theologian, who visited Alexandria and benefited from the advanced theological teaching provided by the school. In this, we see one of the beautiful connections between St. Gregory and the Coptic Church.
Our parish is pleased to offer the St. Basil Catechetical School as a ministry to educate and help people delve deeper into the fundamentals of the Orthodox Christian Faith. All of our courses will be taught in a sincere, yet accessible, manner.
Will I have to study and take exams?
Generally speaking, no. We encourage people to take notes for their own benefit, but even this is not required. There may be recommended reading that you can pursue on your own if you wish to delve deeper in any given subject.
As a Coptic Orthodox parish, what is our mission? How do we relate to the world around us? All too often, local parishes like ours become cultural centers in which meetings and services target a tiny cultural minority.
At St. Gregory, however, we have a different goal. In order to fulfill our mission and participate in Christ’s work for the salvation of the world, we must first discover and be awakened to our connection with the world.
To help in this process, we will have a special meeting discussing mission and outreach to non-Orthodox brothers and sisters on Tuesday, September 6 from 7:00-8:00 p.m. featuring two special guest speakers who recently converted to Orthodoxy in the Coptic Church. They will share their experience with us so that we might better understand what it’s like for the numerous people we hope to reach with our mission.
For servants, this meeting is mandatory, and for all others, it is highly recommended.
On Wednesday, August 17, our parish will be blessed by the visit of Fr. Gregory Bishay for the Vigil of the Holy Theotokos. Fr. Gregory will pray the Raising of Incense from 7:00-8:30 p.m. and offer a meditation on the Holy Theotokos.
You don’t want to miss the visit of this wonderful, loving, and sincere father!