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December 2, 2015 + On Giving Thanks to the Creator

from St. Basil the Great

As thou takest thy seat at table, pray. As thou liftest the loaf, offer thanks to the Giver. When thou sustainest thy bodily weakness with wine, remember Him Who supplies thee with this gift, to make thy heart glad and to comfort thy infirmity. Has thy need for taking food passed away? Let not the thought of thy Benefactor pass away too. As thou art putting on thy tunic, thank the Giver of it. As thou wrappest thy cloak about thee, feel yet greater love to God, Who alike in summer and in winter has given us coverings convenient for us, at once to preserve our life, and to cover what is unseemly. Is the day done? Give thanks to Him Who has given us the sun for our daily work, and has provided for us a fire to light up the night, and to serve the rest of the needs of life. Let night give the other occasion of prayer. When thou lookest up to heaven and gazest at the beauty of the stars, pray to the Lord of the visible world; pray to God the Arch-artificer of the universe, Who in wisdom hath made them all. When thou seest all nature sunk in sleep, then again worship Him Who gives us even against our wills release from the continuous strain of toil, and by a short refreshment restores us once again to the vigour of our strength. Let not night herself be all, as it were, the special and peculiar property of sleep. Let not half thy life be useless through the senselessness of slumber. Divide the time of night between sleep and prayer. Nay, let thy slumbers be themselves experiences in piety; for it is only natural that our sleeping dreams should be for the most part echoes of the anxieties of the day. As have been our conduct and pursuits, so will inevitably be our dreams. Thus wilt thought pray without ceasing; if thought prayest not only in words, but unitest thyself to God through all the course of life and so thy life be made one ceaseless and uninterrupted prayer."

January 16, 2013 + A Letter of Condolence to the Wife of Nectarius

by St. Basil the Great
From
The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, Vol. 13, p. 19

“...When you became a mother, and seeing your son gave thanks to God, you realized fully that you, a mortal mother, had given birth to a mortal child. What wonder, then, if this mortal son, subject to death, has died. But the untimeliness of his death grieves us. Yet, that this is not a timely death is not certain, since we ourselves do not know how to choose most advantageously for our souls nor how to determine the limits appointed for the life of men. Consider the whole universe in which you live, where all things visible are mortal, and all are subject to annihilation. Look up toward the heavens which also will some day be destroyed. At the sun not even it will remain. The stars, each and every one; living creatures on land and in the sea; the beauties of earth; the earth itself all are perishable, all in a short time will have ceased to exist. Let this thought be a consolation in your misfortune. Do not measure your suffering in itself alone, for in this way it will appear unbearable to you, but compare it with all human happenings, and therein you will find consolation. Above all, I have this to say most forcibly: 'Have consideration for your husband; be a comfort one to the other; do not make the affliction harder for him to bear by wearing yourself out with grief.' On the whole, I do not think that words alone suffice for consolation, but I believe that there is need of prayer under the present circumstances. Therefore, I pray the Lord Himself, by touching your heart with His ineffable power, to enlighten your soul through the good use of reason, so that you may have from within yourself the sources of consolation.”

January 9, 2013 + A Letter to a Soldier

by St. Basil the Great
From
The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, Vol. 13, p. 231

Although we must thank the Lord for many things of which he has considered us worthy in our travels, we judge that the acquaintance with your Honor which was granted to us by our good Master is our greatest blessing. For, we have come to know a man who makes clear that It is possible even in the military life to maintain a perfect love toward God, and that it behooves the Christian to be distinguished not by the style of his dress, but by the disposition of his soul.

Even at that time, therefore, we were most desirous of meeting you, and now, as often as we call you to mind, we enjoy the happiest thoughts. Accordingly, act the man, and be strong, and always strive to nourish and augment your love of God, in order that the abundance of His blessings to you may continue to increase. Moreover, we need no other proof that you remember us, since we have the testimony of your deeds.

January 26, 2011 + Three Guiding Lights of True Faith

by Very Rev. Stephen Rogers
from The Word, January 2001

As the month of January draws to a close, the Church calls us on the 30th to celebrate the Feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs: St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom.

In celebrating these three great teachers of the Church, the Church in its hymnody refers to them as “harps of the Spirit,” “rays of light,” “scented flowers of Paradise,” “instruments of grace.” The Gospel read at Divine Liturgy is that of the Good Shepherd (John 10:9-16). This gospel, always appointed to be read on feast days of canonized bishops, speaks to us of the God-given role of the episcopacy to watch over our souls.

In these three great shepherds of the Church, we see both a commonality and differences that can enlighten us in how we lead our lives as Christians. Honored as supreme representatives of both the Church’s doctrinal and pastoral ministries, these men give us true examples of what it means to be Orthodox.

St. Basil the Great (330-379), though known throughout Orthodoxy because of the Divine Liturgy that bears his name, was perhaps first and foremost a man of charity and compassion. Known as a protector of the weak and defender of the poor, St. Basil built hospitals, organized charities, cared for orphans and widows and emphasized acts of mercy on the part of all Christians.

A great defender of the faith in powerful writings and homilies, and known as an organizer and reformer of monasteries, St. Basil more than anything else burned with a heart of compassion, living out the words of Christ, “Inasmuch as you do it unto one of these little ones, you do it unto me.”

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