The Orations of the Cappadocian Fathers on Lepers
A Blueprint for Exhorting Solidarity with the Socially Alienated Today
The aim of this paper is to understand what might effectively serve to exhort the practice of the virtue of solidarity with the socially alienated. Three orations on lepers: one by Gregory of Nazianzus, and two by Gregory of Nyssa, will be studied. The methods used to engender the virtue of solidarity with the lepers in these orations will be analyzed. Redefining classical Greek virtues in a Christian theological framework; sensitizing the listeners by appealing to emotions through the use of concrete examples; attempting to restore alienated kinship by retrieving kinship language; and encouraging a tangible encounter with lepers prove to be important elements. How the Gregorys appealed to non-Christians will also be considered. I conclude that through these three orations, the Gregorys teach us that the conviction to cultivate the virtue of solidarity is inculcated by engaging closely with those whose identity appears different from one’s own.