Thursday, September 13, 2007

St Gregory of Nyssa on "Progress in Sanctification"

While Pastor Weedon and I were discussing progression in sanctification, the Holy Father was preparing his Wednesday Audience on St Gregory of Nyssa's treatment of exactly the same doctrine. Here it is from September 5. And here is the Pope's summary in English for those of you who don't what the whole translation:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the teachers of the early Church, we once again consider Saint Gregory of Nyssa, one of the great Cappadocian Fathers of the fourth century. At the heart of Saint Gregory's teaching is the innate dignity of every man and woman, made in the image of God and called to grow more fully into his likeness. Human fulfillment is found in a dynamic process of growth towards that perfection which has its fullness in God; daily we "press forward" (cf. Phil 3:13) towards union with God through love, knowledge and the cultivation of the virtues. This ascent to God calls for a process of purification which, by his grace, perfects our human nature and produces fruits of justice, holiness and goodness. In all of this, Jesus Christ, the perfect image of the Father, is our model and teacher. Gregory insists on Christ's presence in the poor, who challenge us to acknowledge our own dependence on God and to imitate his mercy. Finally, Gregory points to the importance of prayer modeled on the Lord's own prayer for the triumph of God's Kingdom. May his teaching inspire us to seek that holiness and purity of heart which will one day enable us to see God face to face!
Given that, I think it would be pretty hard for anyone to deny that the doctrine of progression in sanctification has a strong place in the Christian Tradition.


At Thursday, September 13, 2007 12:07:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Oh, one is SOOOO tempted to say: "Great minds..." but, alas, I have no illusions that the Holy Father leaves me in the dust - absolutely - and from what I read on this blog, you do too. But you know the true sadness, David? I think those I was first engaging in my original post would grant that it was there strongly in tradition; just that it was a false development. I think that is SO wrong - even and especially from a Lutheran perspective. Now, if you want to have some fun and be mischievous, you could point out that this is a point where not only Weedon, but also McCain, agrees with His Holiness. ;)

At Thursday, September 13, 2007 1:04:00 pm , Blogger Paul T. McCain said...

No, the Bishop of Rome agrees with me. Please try to keep that clear. OK?


At Thursday, September 13, 2007 5:20:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Ho, ho! ROFL, Pastor Paul, as they say in Cyberspace! :-)

For knowledge of the Fathers, Pastor William, you leave me for dead. I rely to a great degree on those who know them much better than me--you and His Holiness, for instance.

However, I suspect that there is simply so much in this Patristic tradition--even so much more that we are aware of now than was the case in the 16th Century--that it is difficult to develop an overall familiarity with them.

My concern is--and I guess you share this--that some traditions (eg. the Lutheran and Calvinist) might be far too selective with the tradition--a sort of "canon within the canon" of the Fathers, so to speak.

But I guess knowing some is better than not knowing any, and that is the case for many Catholics. This series of catechesis that the Holy Father has been doing now for about 18 months is going a long way toward rectifying that situation for many Catholics.

At Thursday, September 13, 2007 6:06:00 pm , Blogger JR Orbeta, SJ said...

Hello David! Thanks for dropping by my blog site.

Yes, to think and feel with the Church is part of every Christian's task. We have to be fully united with the Church of Christ.

God bless you and your Family.


JR Orbeta, S.J.

At Friday, September 14, 2007 2:09:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

But I guess knowing some is better than not knowing any, and that is the case for many Catholics.

(After nearly breathing coffee up my nose upon reading Pastor McCain's comment -- I'm still chuckling).

That's true, David. At around the second year of my Catholic life I began to pray the Hours and it was there that I discovered the patristic riches of the Church catholic. What a long way there is to go.

It is truly wonderful to see Pastor Weedon share those riches (and he does so very well) in the LCMS. As I recall it was rarely brought up in adult studies while I was in the ELCA. More's the pity. Patristic wisdom is the patrimony of all Christians.


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