God, man, and beauty in eternity

It is foolish, good people, for you to fret and complain of the chain of this fixed sequence of life’s realities; you do not know the goal towards which each single dispensation of the universe is moving. You do not know that all things have to be assimilated to the Divine Nature in accordance with the artistic plan of their author, in a certain regularity and order. Indeed, it was for this that intelligent beings came into existence; namely, that the riches of the Divine blessings should not lie idle. The All-creating Wisdom fashioned these souls, these receptacles with free wills, as vessels as it were, for this very purpose, that there should be some capacities able to receive His blessings and become continually larger with the inpouring of the stream. Such are the wonders that the participation in the Divine blessings works: it makes him into whom they come larger and more capacious; from his capacity to receive it gets for the receiver an actual increase in bulk as well, and he never stops enlarging. The fountain of blessings wells up unceasingly, and the partaker’s nature, finding nothing superfluous and without a use in that which it receives, makes the whole influx an enlargement of its own proportions, and becomes at once more wishful to imbibe the nobler nourishment and more capable of containing it; each grows along with each, both the capacity which is nursed in such abundance of blessings and so grows greater, and the nurturing supply which comes on in a flood answering to the growth of those increasing powers. It is likely, therefore, that this bulk will mount to such a magnitude as there is no limit to check, so that we should not grow into it. With such a prospect before us, are you angry that our nature is advancing to its goal along the path appointed for us? Why, our career cannot be run thither-ward, except that which weighs us down, I mean this encumbering load of earthiness, be shaken off the soul; nor can we be domiciled in Purity with the corresponding part of our nature, unless we have cleansed ourselves by a better training from the habit of affection which we have contracted in life towards this earthiness. But if there be in you any clinging to this body, and the being unlocked from this darling thing give you pain, let not this, either, make you despair. You will behold this bodily envelopment, which is now dissolved in death, woven again out of the same atoms, not indeed into this organization with its gross and heavy texture, but with its threads worked up into something more subtle and ethereal, so that you will not only have near you that which you love, but it will be restored to you with a brighter and more entrancing beauty.

St. Macrina the Younger, in St. Gregory of Nyssa, “On the Soul and Resurrection”

Review: Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series Volume V Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises

Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series Volume V Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises
Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Second Series Volume V Gregory of Nyssa: Dogmatic Treatises by Philip Schaff

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Of course, the writings of St. Gregory are wonderful and treatise “On the Soul and the Resurrection” as well as his homily on the Theophany are wonderful must-reads. That almost goes without saying and in itself warrants the four-star rating I’ve given the book, so I won’t dwell on it. That aside, however, I have two complaints about this particular volume: 1. Overall, it wasn’t a very good selection. Over half of the book is St. Gregory’s work against the Eunomians; space could have spared and reserved for some of his other, more influential works. 2. The footnotes are, as in most of the Schaff volumes, hardly worth the ink it took to print them.

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