Questions Liturgiques / Studies in Liturgy vol:92 issue:4 pages:250-279
Building on Hubertus Drobner’s defense of Gregory of Nyssa’s sermon, In ascensionem Christi, as an Ascension Day sermon, this article presents a rhetorical, theological analysis of the text. The sermon, devoted to an explanation of Psalms 22 and 23 (LXX), is structured according to an ascending pattern that reinforces the sermon’s occasion and theme. Gregory presents David as a trustworthy teacher and guide both for spiritual life and liturgical celebration. Psalm 22 becomes a meditation on the course of sacramental life, while Psalm 23 treats first the Christian’s ascent by means of virtue and then David’s disembodied ascent to heaven, where the prophet witnesses Christ’s descent to earth and subsequent ascent to heaven’s throne, and records the angelic dialogue occasioned by these astonishing events. Thus adapted to the festal occasion, Gregory’s remarks conclude with a call to imitate the prophet’s virtuous conduct.