Sunday, January 11, 2015

Tending the Temple

January 10
 St. Gregory of Nyssa (330-395)

For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1: 5-7

A greedy appetite for food is terminated by satiety and the pleasure of drinking ends when our thirst is quenched. And so it is with the other things... But the possession of virtue, once it is solidly achieved, cannot be measured by time nor limited by satiety. Rather, to those who are its disciples it always appears as something ever new and fresh. St. Gregory of Nyssa

St. Gregory of Nyssa shared brotherly affection and love with St. Basil the Great (Jan. 2), his own big brother. Along with St. Gregory, these three bishops from what is modern-day Turkey, formed the great “Cappadocian Fathers” of the Church, all fighting the Arian heresy that denied Christ’s full nature as God and man, and all defending the doctrine of the Trinity.

St. Gregory, echoing the admonition of St. Peter, also wrote much on man’s God-given responsibility to perfect his own human nature (with the assistance of God’s grace). Inspired by St. Paul’s words “forgetting what lies behind and pressing to what lies ahead, I prize the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:13-14), St. Gregory wrote that humans are called to engage in a process of epektasis, epektasis, of “constant progress” in godly virtue leading us upward towards Christ.          

Exercise: Still early in our march through the calendar of another temporal year, in what ways are you seeking out constant progress in virtue and holiness, in body and soul, in preparation for eternity? Will you commit to God that this is the year you will develop the virtues of fitness within your soul? Will your knowledge of fitness grow, and along with it your affection and love for all around you? What about today? What thoughts and deeds might foster your own spiritual growth and share its bounty with those around you? Let’s think about that—and act upon it!

(This excerpt is reprinted with permission from the daily devotional Tending the Temple by Kevin Vost, Peggy Bowes and Shane Kapler.)

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