Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – 389)
Gregory of Nazianzus, also known as Gregory the Theologian, served as bishop of Constantinople during the second Ecumenical Council (381). His piety, eloquence, and depth of theological inquiry made him one of the most beloved figures in the Church—and a strong influence on people like John Chrysostom. In this poetic passage from Carmina (Latin for “songs”), Gregory celebrates the wonderful, exclusive features of companionship within the bounds of Christian marriage.
“Through marriage we become one another’s hands, ears, and feet. Marriage doubles what had been weak. It is a great joy to our friends, a distress to our enemies. Sorrows shared hurt less; joys shared are sweeter for both; wealth brings greater joy to those who are like-minded. To those who are in need, being like-minded brings greater joy than wealth. Marriage supplies a lock of self-control over desires and sets a seal on our natural need for friendship. . . . It is a drink from the household spring from which strangers cannot taste; it does not flow forth outside nor can another collect it from outside. The mutual love of those who are united in the flesh and are of one soul sharpens their piety to a fine point.”1
St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Carmina 22.214.171.1242-275, in Everett Ferguson, Inheriting Wisdom: Readings for Today from Ancient Christian Writers (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2004), 5.