St Gregory of Nyssa: Have You Separated Yourself from the Nourishment of the Church's Milk?

Feast of St Anthimus, Bishop of Nicomedea

Gregory_of_Nyssa_Square_5.jpegSINCE THE daughter of the Egyptian king, being childless and barren (I think she is rightly perceived as profane philosophy), arranged to be called his mother by adopting the youngster, Scripture concedes that his relationship with her who was falsely called his mother should not be rejected until he had recognized his own immaturity. But he who has already attained maturity, as we have learned about Moses, will be ashamed to be called the son of one who is barren by nature.

For truly barren is profane education, which is always in labor but never gives birth. For what fruit worthy of such pangs does philosophy show for being so long in labor? Do not all who are full of wind and never come to term miscarry before they come to the light of the knowledge of God, although they could as well become men if they were not altogether hidden in the womb of barren wisdom?

Now after living with the princess of the Egyptians for such a long time that he seemed to share in their honors, he must return to his natural mother. Indeed he was not separated from her while he was being brought up by the princess but was nursed by his mother’s milk, as the history states. This teaches, it seems to me, that if we should be involved with profane teachings during our education, we should not separate ourselves from the nourishment of the Church’s milk, which would be her laws and customs. By these the soul is nourished and matured, thus being given the means of ascending the height.

It is true that he who looks to both the profane doctrines and to the doctrines of the fathers will find himself between two antagonists. For the foreigner in worship is opposed to the Hebrew teaching, and contentiously strives to appear stronger than the Israelite. And so he seems to be to many of the more superficial who abandoned the faith of their fathers and fight on the side of the enemy, becoming transgressors of the fathers’ teaching. On the other hand, he who is great and noble in soul like Moses slays with his own hand the one who rises in opposition to true religion.

—St Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses

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