Archive for the ‘Tritheism’ Tag

Feast of Sts. Gregory Thaumaturgus and Alexander of Comana “the Charcoal Burner” (August 11)   2 comments

Above:  Pontus and Syria in the Roman Empire, 150 Common Era


Also known as Saint Gregory of Neocaesarea and Saint Gregory the Wonder-Worker

Roman Catholic Bishop of Neocaesarea

His feast transferred from November 17



Roman Catholic Martyr and Bishop of Comana, Pontus

His feast = August 11

St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (circa 213-268) was born at Neocaesarea, Pontus, Asia Minor, where he studied law.  About 233 the saint, his brother, his sister, and her husband were en route to Beirut when they stopped at Caesarea, Syria.  There they met Origen, who converted them to Christianity.  They remained there for years instead of going on to Beirut.  And they became disciples of Origen.

About 238 St. Gregory returned to Neocaesarea, where he intended to practice law.  But all seventeen Christians there named him their bishop instead.  He tended to the flock for three decades, helping his parishioners survive a plague, a siege, and the Decian persecution.  And, when the saint died, he still had only seventeen members in his flock.

St. Gregory earned his great reputation.  He was allegedly a wonder-worker, hence his surname.  But he did argue against two heresies.  The first was Tritheism, which was, as the term indicates, three deities instead of one one in the Trinity.  The other heresy was Sabellianism, which argued that God the Father projected Himself as God the Spirit on some occasions and as God the Son on others.  This understanding of the Holy Trinity contradicted the unchanging, stable divine transcendence upon which Origen insisted.  (Origen favored the Son and the Spirit as being generated eternally from the Father.)  Speaking of Origen, St. Gregory defended his controversial teacher against strong criticisms.

St. Gregory needed to appoint a Bishop of Comana, Pontus (not to be confused with Comana, Cappadocia), some time prior to 251.  He interviewed various candidates and found none of them acceptable.  Then someone suggested sarcastically that the Bishop of Neocaesarea speak to St. Alexander the Charcoal Burner.  St. Gregory did and behold, he found that St. Alexander was a wise and holy man suited to serve as bishop.  St. Alexander died for his faith circa 251, during the Decian persecution.

Sometimes we labor hard for God and do not see spectacular results.  How often might St. Gregory have become discouraged because of the lack of church growth, other than to replace people who died, moved away, or fell way?  But, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, God calls us to be faithful, not successful.  Today churches around the world bear the name “St. Gregory the Wonder-Worker.”  Perhaps keeping the faith was his greatest wonder.  Certainly his legacy has endured.

And, as for St. Alexander, I propose him as the patron of all with unexpected vocations, of everyone whom others underestimate and scorn unjustly.  Each of us has a variety of spiritual gifts and vocations, some of them not obvious even to us.  The man who suggested sarcastically that St. Gregory interview that charcoal burner had no idea what he setting in motion.

Wherever we are, whomever we are, regardless of the challenges we face, may we find our vocations in God.  The may we live into them, for the glory of God and the benefit of others.





Heavenly Father, shepherd of our people,

we thank you for your holy servants

Saints Gregory Thaumaturgus and Saint Alexander of Comana “the Charcoal Burner,”

who were faithful in the care and nurture of your flock.

We pray that, following their example and the teaching of their holy lives,

may by your grace attain our full maturity in Christ,

through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16 or Acts 20:17-35

Psalm 84

1 Peter 5:1-4 or Ephesians 3:14-21

John 21:15-17 or Matthew 24:42-47

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60