The Many St. Gregorys

Last week I celebrated my name day/feast day – St. Gregory the Theologian – and yesterday was the feast of the Three Hierarchs, of which Gregory the Theologian is one of them. I received some wishes yesterday for what is sort of a secondary name day feast for me. In all cases I am very thankful for people remembering; it seems that we are slowly losing the name day tradition, and this is a sad thing. In addition to the greetings I also heard from a lot of people that they were confused about the many different St. Gregorys – there are indeed a lot of saints bearing this name! Here is a quick rundown on some of the more well known saints (all dates refer to the Orthodox feast – in some cases they have a different date in the Roman Catholic church):

-The vast majority of people with my name in the Greek Orthodox Church celebrate St. Gregory the Theologian (Jan. 25), who lived in the 4th century. He is sometimes known as Gregory of Nazianzus, but this more properly refers to his father, Gregory the Elder, who is also a saint.

-St. Gregory the Illuminator (Sep. 30), active in the 3rd and 4th century, is the patron saint of Armenia. He brought Christianity to that country, which was the first to adopt Christianity as its official religion. The Armenian version of Gregory is Krikor. Mike Connors, who passed away almost exactly a year ago, starred in Mannix and his real name was Krekor Ohanian. I always wondered why he didn’t just go by Gregory Ohanian, but apparently Hollywood changed his name because it was too close to George O’Hanlon, an old-time Hollywood actor who, most importantly to me, voiced George Jetson in The Jetsons.

-St. Gregory the Great (March 12) was active in the 6th century and is also knows as Gregory, Pope of Rome and Gregory the Dialogist. This latter term is how he is known in the Eastern church and refers to his authorship of The Dialogues. Some years back our Metropolitan distributed to us a translation of one of his works which argued that women should NOT refrain from receiving communion when they are menstruating. I blogged about this at the time and will try to repost.

-St. Gregory of Nyssa (Jan. 10) is hugely popular in Orthodox circles and really in many Christian jurisdictions for his theological writings. He was active in the 4th century. His brother was St. Basil, and the two of them, along with Gregory the Theologian, are known as the Cappadocian Fathers – a reference to where they were from and were active.

-St. Gregory the Wonderworker (Nov. 17) was yet another saint active in the 3rd century and in Asia Minor. He is probably the coolest guy in this list because there is an air of mystery about him; few of his writings survive but his life is well attested and he was known for making miracles, hence his title.

-St. Gregory of Palamas (second Sunday of Lent). Gregory is the most recent saint on this list – he reposed in the mid-14th century. He was a key figure in the Hesycast controversy – a dispute in the Church about contemplative prayer (Hesycast comes from the Greek word for silence). We celebrate him on the second Sunday of Lent, which follows the Sunday of Orthodoxy. The idea is that his work was a continuation of the work of those who won the day in the Iconoclastic controversy.

There are many more saints who bear the name of Gregory. Like most if not all Greeks, I celebrate St. Gregory the Theologian, but I am thankful for name day wishes whenever any of these great saints are celebrated 🙂

 Go to post page

January 31st, 2018 by Fr. Greg

Long Day/Yup, He’s Orthodox Part II

Today has been a long day – we had service in the morning with the traditional procession of icons for the Sunday of Orthodoxy – check out photos here – as well as our March 25 Greek School program during coffee hour.  This evening I joined all of the local Orthodox priests for a vespers service.  Among all of this, today was the feast of St. Cuthbert the Wonderworker – read his story here.

Cuthbert – the “bert” part of his name is cognate with “bright” – is, let’s just say, not a common Orthodox name, although it is well represented as an English last name – think of the popular Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert.  The saint’s commemoration today, though, reminds us that there are tons of saints that we don’t think of as part of our Orthodox tradition because they aren’t from the eastern Mediterranean or Russia.  There is much value in exploring the lives of saints such as Patrick, Brigid, Kenneth, and Cuthbert.

Onto tomorrow!  We will be having Bible Boot Camp at 19:00 hours.  Dismissed!

 Go to post page

March 20th, 2016 by Fr. Greg

Leap Day Thoughts

Happy leap day – February 29!  Here in New England it was a rare “warm” – 55-60 degrees in many places – February day.  Two thoughts about leap day/leap year:

-I was born in late February – I just celebrated my birthday – and ever since I can remember, when people find out my birthdate they most always say something like “you were almost a leap year baby!”.  The problem with this is I was born in an odd, not even, year – it could not have been a leap year.  Of course, if it had been a leap year, I would have indeed been a leap year baby whatever date I was born. I would have been a leap day baby if the day was right.

-How does the Orthodox Church calendar handle the leap day?  The main saint who is celebrated is St. John Cassian – more about him here.  Interestingly, when it is not a leap year his feast moves to February 28.  This has never made sense to me – if you are born on Feb. 29 you would, I imagine, celebrate your birthday during non-leap years on March 1, which is one exact year after  Feb. 29.  The wiki site has the other saints commemorated on this day, but there is nothing about how or if readings shift.  During the course of the calendar year, the entire New Testament, except for Revelation, is read.  Some days will have the same readings – very often martyrs have the same passage read, for example.  I would think the readings today are repeated from another day.

 Go to post page

February 29th, 2016 by Fr. Greg

Day 28: Kitchen Table

Today we are charged with writing about our kitchen table, which Fr. Peck calls the most important piece of furniture in our house.  I imagine this is because it is the one thing where everyone will, hopefully, be gathered around at the same time, thus facilitating conversation and interaction.  There was a great Seinfeld episode where Jerry decided he wanted to get married and Kramer tried to dissuade him of the notion: “marriage, man made prisons… You talk about your day. How was your day today? Did you have a good day today or a bad day today?”

But Kramer was wrong – it is good to talk about your day!  But it can be tough to do this.  In my cultural milieu many people own their own business which makes any kind of 9-5 day where you theoretically eat two meals together as a family out of the question.  In addition our children are so busy with activities that families are rarely together even once a day.  Finally, for those who theoretically may work 9-5, who actually can get away with not going in early and not leaving late and still get all the work done?  So this assignment is a good reminder to all of us.  I have a busy but flexible schedule, but I find when I am home for meals I am often dealing with phone calls or otherwise “working”.  And due to the fact that I often work at night and stay up late, breakfast time is not my best time for conversation.  Fr. Peck’s assignment for us today is a nice reminder of what we need to prioritize.

 Go to post page

December 15th, 2014 by Fr. Greg

Less Is More

Friday’s assignment – Black Friday’s assignment – in our blogging exercise is “less is more”.  I am psyched to write about this because I had the best Black Friday of my life, and my friends and I had more fun than anyone else in the Worcester area.  We continued a tradition, or perhaps established one is the better phrasing, since this is the second year of doing this – we played rugby at high noon at Crompton Park in Worcester.  The twist this year was there was snow on the ground.  It was quite cold, but last year was colder and the ground was wet – miserable stuff.  We were fortified with hot chocolate and other beverages.  After the game we went over to The Nines on Milbury St. for chili and fellowship.  Below is a picture of me running with the ball.  How does this fit into the less is more theme?  Well, we did spend money at the bar, but rather than shopping and going crazy we had a great time together.


 Go to post page

November 29th, 2014 by Fr. Greg

A Prayer Of Thanksgiving

Fr. Dimitri Moraitis, Fr. Dean’s successor in Worcester and  a good friend of mine, posted this Thanksgiving prayer on Facebook:

A Prayer for your Thanksgiving Table
O Lord of all creation: Be blessed for the earth and all it holds, for the seas and all their riches, and for the heavens and all that fills them. Be blessed for the mountains and valleys, for the lakes and rivers and streams, for the forests, deserts, and plains and all that inhabit them. In relishing the blessings of this day, we are well aware of the way you have dealt with us at all times. Your mercy is so abundant and your love for us is so great that, although we were spiritually dead in our disobedience, you brought us to life through your Christ. Therefore, Master, enable us to reflect on this mystery throughout the coming day, calling to mind all you have done for us, that we may reap the benefits of the day, while enjoying the company of those we love.

For you deserve all glory, honor, and worship, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen

 Go to post page

November 27th, 2014 by Fr. Greg

Beardless Men



This was today’s assignment in the blogging exercise – just the quote – and we are free to run with it.  It is a great line from Philipians about how God does not let us down.  I think we can apply this to our mentors as well.  We had a clergy meeting this morning – a monthly occurrence – for our Metropolis, and the turnout was especially big because we celebrated His Eminence’s name day.  A lot of our older priests were there and all of them, true to when they came of age, were without beards (again I am talking about beards).  These are the clergy I have always looked up to.  Due to health reasons my main mentor Fr. George Karahalios was not there.  This bio is decent – there are glaring mistakes such as his dear wife’s name – it is Calpyso (Lee), not Eleni.  Our elderly clergy are treasures and great resources for us.  Please pray for them and, for my fellow clergy, take advantage of their presence and learn from them.



 Go to post page

November 19th, 2013 by Fr. Greg