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Monday, February 23, 2015

A New Doctor Of The Church


Earlier today the Holy Father declared a new Doctor of the Church - St Gregory of Narek, an Armenian. St Gregory, like St Ephraim the Syrian for the Church in the East, is a major figure in Armenia, so his elevation to the ranks of the Doctors reflects the eminence his teaching has enjoyed for many centuries. This elevation is to be welcomed for a number of reasons, one of them being a recognition of the importance of the Eastern and other Rites within the Church. 

St Gregory lived all his life in what is now Armenia. Born in 951 he entered a monastery in Narek and would remain there for the rest of his life. He was ordained priest at the age of 25. He was a contemplative and a mystic and his writings reflect these. He wrote a number of works including a commentary on The Song of Songs, but it is his Lamentations which are the source of his fame. These are a series of prayers which are both beautifully poetic and theologically profound. In this work he reminds me of our other poetic Doctor, St Ephraim. St Gregory died in 1003. His monastery lasted until the 20th century when it was destroyed following the Armenian genocide. 

May our new Doctor pray for us and guide our souls to find refuge in the Lord. May this "watchful angel in human form" be our protector.

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