Posted by: Fr Chris | January 30, 2013

Three Holy Hierarchs – our greatest of the great!

Our spiritual ancestors, the Christians of the Eastern Roman/ Byzantine Empire took their theology very seriously, debating and discussing church teachings on a daily basis. No “secular” environment existed then: the citizens were either Christian or Jewish and church life permeated their existence.  Today’s feast  of SS.  Basil the Great (also known as Basil of Caesarea), Gregory the Theologian (also known as Gregory of Nazianzus) and John Chrysostom comes about as a result of intense debates that raged in 11th century Constantinople as to who of these great Fathers was the greatest?

Basil was praised for his erudite teaching and fighting against heresy, providing the monastic rule, compassion for sinners, and establishment of hospitals and home.

Chrysostom, the golden-tongued, also brought sinners to repentance, wrote extensively on the liturgy and prayers, and delivered stirring sermons which applied to daily life while even condemning the excesses of an empress.

Gregory’s advocates exalted his beautiful writing of theology, such that he was seen as the definitive teacher on the Holy Trinity.  Who could compare with this teacher, whose prose and clarity surpassed that of classical Greeks?

The result was rancor and bitterness, instead of rejoicing in what the Holy Spirit had given to the Church through these three men! Through a vision granted St. John Mouropos in which they appeared to him and said that they were all equal in God’s eyes, this feast was instituted in 1084.  Their influence on worship and theology cannot be underestimated!

For the Ruthenian Church, this feast holds a special place because the first four-year seminary was dedicated to them. The future theologians of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church prayed under the watchful eyes of these great teachers. That seminary served from 1776 until its closure in 1949 by the Soviet Union, in the castle of Uzhhorod/Ungvar.

The Catholic Church also honors them as Doctors of the Church.

May Christ our True God have mercy on us and save us, through the prayers of our holy Fathers Basil, John Chrystostom and Gregory!

PS Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church has first-class relics of Basil and John, which are brought out today for veneration by the faithful.



  1. […] Three Holy Hierarchs: Our Greatest of the Great – Fr. Chris Zugger (EC) […]

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