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For myself and for the bishops (verses 225-439)

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Author: St. Gregory the Theologian

Reading the lower lines, one can hardly imagine that centuries separate us from the author. Some readers might exclaim, “Well, so nothing new under the sun! There have always been wicked bishops, always troubled times. And the Church has survived, so let’s not worry.” Yes, God is faithful, but we must realize that the “golden age” was called so not because of its tranquility and because the “spirit of apostasy” did not operate in it, but because there were pastors like St. Gregory the Theologian, St. .Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, and dozens of others whose voices rang out loud and clear and who called things by their true names. It was their unequivocal words “Yes, yes” and “No, no” to everything that happens in the Church that created the criteria of the church people so that they could distinguish the “spirit of the antichrist” and keep their conscience undefiled.

The coordinates of the text in Patrologia graeca are: 37:1166-1227.

225. But I will deny you, even if

you will hide behind your outward piety.

All this is just a trap, a trap.

You are like the artist who paints beautiful things

forms that are covered with torn, leprous-damaged skin.

Either portray beauty or do nothing!

230. But tell me this too, can we call ignorant people,

who left such important teachings and writings,

in which we hardly reach at least a small part of their deep meaning,

(although we have been taught the art of words since childhood),

for the explanation of which, in turn, so many books have been written and so much labor has been expended,

235. abundance of brilliant works,

which are the result of precise work written in all languages ​​and

distinguished by scientific talent and lofty interpretation.

How were the apostles able to persuade the cities, the kings, and the congregations,

who possessed the great power of eloquence,

240. when they were before the judges or in the theatres?

How were they able to convince the sages, the jurists, the haughty Greeks

(experienced in public speaking and skilled in eloquence)

and managed to expose them publicly,

if they were not sympathetic to this culture that you are not giving them knowledge of?

245. Perhaps you mean the power of the Spirit,

and that will be fair, but pay attention to what follows:

are you not yourself a partaker of the Spirit, and of course

you are proud of it. Why do you deprive those,

who seek to advance in it? But you, of course, to no avail

250. you attribute this negation to the nature of the Spirit and to the righteous.

It is the property of the First to breathe the Word,

thus the righteous are inspired

and therefore they are wise. In this way you are mistaken in your own words,

oh you, diligent talker namely

255. that which must be kept silent, that which we must hide within ourselves.

I know that the spirit of enemies is silent.[9]

It is better for him to be silent than to speak bad things.

Open the mouth for the Word of God to those

who speak rightly and shut the mouths of those who

260. which erupt with a wheezing snake hiss

and pour out fratricidal poison.

That’s how you are: what more can we add about ignorance?

In short, I will tell the truth

which way is better to look at things.

265. Once upon a time there were people remarkable like no other,

but not at all proficient in fine literature.

The idea is that each of our speech is double,

it consists of words and meaning, words resemble outer garments,

and the sense is like the body clothed in this garment.

270. As, moreover, in one case both components are good, in the other – only one,

and it also happens that both ingredients are useless: both the education and the talent of the orator.

We don’t pay much attention

on the outside of the speech, but we carefully monitor its content.

Well, this is our salvation, in the inner sense.

275. However, when clearly and openly set forth.

What is the use of the spring if

it is obstructed, or from the sun’s ray, if it is obscured by clouds.

Likewise the wise thought, when unspoken,

resembles an unbloomed rose,

280. she shows her

beauty then, when it feels the breeze of the wind, reveals its flower.

If beauty were always hidden,

then we would never be able to feel the charm of spring.

We seem most inclined to deliver our speech like this,

285. as did those who thought themselves unskilled in speech.

But can you really by your talent speak as inspired [as they]?

[If so, then] I would very much like to receive at least a little of your light.

Indeed, if Scripture is nothing,

so why did i waste so much of my time?

290. Why did I try in vain to “count the sand of the sea”,

joining in his labor days and nights,

that I may understand the meaning [of the Scriptures] at least at the end of my life.

If the Scriptures are good in themselves, then do not allow the works of the righteous

to be covered in cobwebs.

295. Use the simple speech of shepherds,

I have nothing against it: moreover,

i can talk too

I often enjoy a plain lunch more than a chef-made one.

In the same way I like plain clothes and external beauty,

300. not the artificial one, but the one given by nature.

“Let the mind soar,” and with that we shall be content.

No finesse – we’ll leave that to those who aspire to it.

Do not give me the arguments of [skeptics] Sextus and Pyrrho.

Out [to the Stoic] Chrysippus! Farther than Stagyrite.[10]

305. Do not get carried away by Plato’s sweet words.

Reject the beauty [of these sages], whose teachings you should abhor!

Express your philosophy through the simplicity of words.

You can be nice to us, even if you talk simply.

Teach us if you want, but really teach us!

310. [Say:] What is the Trinity to us? How does God unite and how, on the contrary, separates? Like at the same time

is one His holiness, nature, how He is One and Trinity. What is the nature of angels.

What is the nature of the dual world[11]

and true “foreknowledge”,

even if much of it does not seem right to most people.

315. What is the origin of the soul and the body,

of the laws, of the Old and the New [Testament]?

What is the meaning of the Incarnation of the One Who far surpasses the conceivable.

What is the coming together of unequal natures[12] for the sake of one glory?

What is the death of Christ to the resurrection and to heaven itself?

320. What is the resurrection of the dead and what is the Judgment?

What kind of life awaits the righteous and what kind of life awaits the sinners?

Tell me why “everything flows” and where does it stop?

If your Spirit has discovered any of this—

is it all, is it half

325. or only what the purity of reason allows you to know –

do not deprive [me too] of this.

But if you are completely blind, then why do you show the way when you yourself are deprived of sight.

O darkness of those who have a blind man for their teacher,

to fall with him into the pit of ignorance!

330. These [bishops] are such (and they are the least evil,

for though ignorance is evil, it is the lesser evil)

But what if we remember the bad ones,

because there are some even worse.

The ill-fated, despised dice for the game of life;

335. ambiguous in works of faith; respecting the laws of short-term gain,

not the eternal divine laws. Their words are similar to Euripus[13]

or of the lithe branches swaying back and forth.

They are a temptation to women, they are a poison that is pleasant to the taste;

they are lions in their attitude towards

the weaker, but they are a dog before those in power.

340. They are predators with a wonderful sense of smell for any feast,

they rub the thresholds at the doors of the powerful, not the thresholds of the wise.

They think only of their benefit, not of society’s benefit,

to do evil to their fellows.

If you allow me, I can also tell about their so-called “wise” deeds.

345. Some boast of their noble origin, others of their eloquence,

third with his wealth, fourth with his family.

And those who have nothing to brag about,

rise to fame thanks to their depravity.

But here is also what they present as “wisdom”: not possessing eloquence,

350. they bind by means of the law the tongues of those who are more eloquent than they.

And if there was any physical combat, just using your eyes and hands

you “wise men” would also drive out those who struggle.

Is this not obvious violence and obvious harm?

Who will endure all this? A riddle.

355. At the same time when already almost the entire universe

has received from God such a great salvation,

how many unworthy leaders we have [in the Church]!

I will shout the truth, even if it is extremely unpleasant.

I think there is a wonderful theater play going on:

360. now [we see] masks, but in time [we will see the real] faces.

I’m ashamed to say how things are, but I’ll say it anyway.

Though we are appointed teachers of goodness,

we are a workshop for all evils

and our silence screams (even if it seems to us that we are not speaking).

365. “Cunning is at the head – let no one worry about it!

Be one of the bad guys – that’s the easiest and it’s better.” The practice

becomes law.

Well, if someone, even under the influence of the teachers, can with difficulty turn to the good,

then when in front of him

370. there is a bad example, he is captured; it becomes like a stream running down a slope.

Here is the reason for it: some say that the [sea] eagle, using the rays of the sun

wisely judges the eyesight of her newborn chicks.

In this way, he understands which of them is real and which is not.

One throws out, admitting itself to be the parent of the other.

375. We easily put everyone on the chair

as long as they desire it, we make them chiefs of the people,

and at the same time we pay no attention to either the present or the past,

neither of their activity, nor of their preparation, nor of the circle of their acquaintances—

even to the extent that the “ring of these coins” can be recognized

380. and whether they have been purified by the fire of time –

but we hastily elevate those who seem to us worthy of this throne.

Indeed, if we know that in most

sometimes power makes the elected worse,

he which prudent man will offer him whom he knoweth not.

385. And if I, with such great effort, can only care for my soul

in the storms of life, how can you trust anyone

meet the helm of power

of such a great people, if you don’t want to sink the ship.

And at the same time when precious stones are hard to find

390. and healing herbs do not grow everywhere on earth,

and then when kranti is abundant everywhere,

and thoroughbred horses are bred in the homes of the rich –

why the superiors find them with such ease,

even more beginners who haven’t even put in the effort [at least a little].

395. Oh, quick change of manners! Oh, the random twists of the game!

O work of God entrusted to the dice!

Or: oh, comedian’s mask, unexpected

put to one of the most depraved and worthless of men:

and here before you stands a new watchman of godliness.

400. Truly great is the grace of the Spirit,

since the precious Saul is among the prophets!

Until yesterday you were among the mimes in the theaters (what happened,

besides the theaters, let someone else learn)

and now you yourself are an extraordinary sight to us.

405. Formerly you were a passionate lover of horses and threw ashes [out of anger] up to God,

as one utters prayers and pious thoughts.

The reason for this was either a fallen jockey,

or a horse that came second to the finish;

you were intoxicated by [even the faintest] smell of the horses

410. and you became like a madman and raging.

Now you are important, your look is full of meekness,

(aside from being secretly devoted to your old passions,

like, I think, the crooked twig that slips away

from the hand trying to straighten it and returns to the original position).

415. Dovchera through oratory sold you trials,

turning now to one side and to the other all that pertains to the laws.

By means of this you destroyed those whom justice should have saved,

and the criterion for you was the great reward.

Now you suddenly became a judge, like a second Daniel.

420. Yesterday, when he judged me with drawn sword,

you have turned the court into a lawful haunt of robbers,

he stole, doing violence mostly against the laws.

And how meek you are today! No one

you don’t change your clothes as easily as you change your manners.

425. Your daughter-in-law was among the effeminate dancers,

together with the Lydian women participated in obscene dances,[14]

he sang songs and was proud of his orgies.

Now you present yourself as the guardian of the chastity of virgins and married women.

How suspicious is your goodness, given your past habits.

430. Yesterday – Simon the Wise, today – Simon Peter.

Ah, what speed: instead of a fox – a lion.

Tell me, dear, how it came to be that you

who was formerly a publican or left some position in the army,

how you, who were once poor, afterwards surpassed Cyrus in wealth

435. Median, or Croesus or Midas

(having become the ruler of the house full of tears),

[how] he penetrated the Sanctuary and seized the throne.

How then did you manage to take everything by force,

and now you own it?

How, in the end, you conquered by force even the divine Mysteries themselves…

[9] See Matt. 9:32: “After the madness was cast out, the mute spoke” (trans. note).

[10] The City of Aristotle (note trans.).

[11] On speculative and material entities (ed. note).

[12] In Godman (note trans.).

[13] Strait with the unsteady waters (trans. note).

[14] The Lydian women had the reputation of being light women who, according to Herodotus, saved their dowry themselves through prostitution (note trans.).

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