St Gregory the Theologian

Today in the Church we honor the memory of St Gregory the Theologian who is one of the very few saints to be given the appellation, Theologian. Below is a portion of one of his poetic commentaries on Scripture, in this case commenting on the vice of anger. 


For laughter is the greatest weapon against an assault of rage.

. . . 

What then is the mildest of all beings? God.

And who has the irascible nature? The homicide.

In any case know that this is also called rage,

in addition to other names of wretchedness by which it’s named.

But yours is to choose which lot you want.

For both are not possible. And consider this:

who is mocked and who is praised?

For this is no small thing for those who consider it.


Otherwise I vow that you, O wicked friend [i.e., Anger],

the wretched supporter and protector,

who make men swell up and give them to the gates of Hades,

to submit this day to God and to the Word,

O Anger, you boiling, fullness of homicide,

eminent ugliness of the face, storm of the heart,

drunken gadfly who drive men off cliffs and send them to Tartarus.


O legion of spirits, evil composite (Mk 5:9),

who tear up bonds and fetters with their shackles (Mk 5:4), Christ wants you,

the one whom the whole world cannot support,

who himself governs all without stumbling,

ruling the life of mortals and angels,

who brings release from evil spirits

and passions, to those who call on him intently;

he himself wants you to flee as quickly as possible from here.

Go out and fill the depths of your swine.

They will readily receive you as you cast yourself into the sea (Matt 8:30-32).

Depart from all of us who are dear to God.

(POEMS ON SCRIPTURE, pp 119-120)


His comments about Anger being a wicked, yet familiar friend reminds me of a modern pop song, “Trouble is A Friend” by the Australian singer Lenka who says Trouble is both a friend and a foe. Her description of trouble parallels St Gregory’s comments about anger. Both are familiar to us, and often with us, but both are also wicked, sometimes gaining control of our hearts and minds.  Similar words probably could be written today about the coronavirus, which has become completely familliar to us, and is so troubling.

Trouble he will find you no matter where you go, oh oh 
No matter if you’re fast, no matter if you’re slow, oh oh 
The eye of the storm or the cry in the mourn, oh oh 
You’re fine for a while but you start to lose control 

He’s there in the dark, he’s there in my heart 
He waits in the wings, he’s gotta play a part 
Trouble is a friend, yeah trouble is a friend of mine, oh oh! 


Trouble is a friend but trouble is a foe, oh oh 
And no matter what I feed him he always seems to grow, oh oh 
He sees what I see and he knows what I know, oh oh 
So don’t forget as you ease on down the road 
So don’t be alarmed if he takes you by the arm
I won’t let him win, but I’m a sucker for his charm
Trouble is a friend, yeah trouble is a friend of mine, oh oh!

Oh how I hate the way he makes me feel
And how I try to make him leave, I try
Oh oh, I try!