Saint Basil, aka Basil of Caesarea, Saint Basil the Great

Saint Basil, aka Basil of Caesarea, Saint Basil the Great
329
379

Greek Bishop of Caesarea Mazaca, Influential Theologian supporting the Nicene Creed, opposed Arianism

Author Quotes

Who has lost and who has won in the struggle -- the one who keeps the premises [buildings] or the one who keeps the faith? The (one who kept the) faith obviously. That therefore the ordinances which have been preserved in the churches [buildings] from old time until now may [Can] not be lost in our days,... rouse yourselves, brethren,... seeing them [the churches] now [are] seized upon by aliens.

We glorify the Holy Ghost together with the Father and the Son, from the conviction that He is not separated from the Divine Nature; for that which is foreign by nature does not share in the same honors.

What is the benefit of fasting in our body while filling our souls with innumerable evils? He who does not play at dice, but spends his leisure otherwise, what nonsense does he not utter? What absurdities does he not listen to? Leisure without the fear of God is, for those who do not know how to use time, the teacher of wickedness.

When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God?s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.

The earth doth not cover our beloved, but heaven hath received him; let us tarry for awhile, and we shall be in his company.

The whole Church is in dissolution.

The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed.

The worse the diseases of the Churches grow, the more do we all turn to your excellency in the belief that your championship is the one consolation left to us in our troubles. By the power of your prayers, and your knowledge of what is the best course to suggest in the emergency, you are believed to be able to save us from this terrible tempest by all alike who know your excellency even to a small extent, whether by hearsay or by personal experience.

Then God placed the head at the top, locating in it the most valuable of the senses. There sight, and hearing, and taste, and smell have been established, all near each other. And although confined in a small space, none of them impedes the activity of its neighbor. The eyes have laid hold of the highest lookout point so that nothing blocks their view of the body?s parts, but placed under the small projection of the eyebrows, they reach out from the prominence above in a direct line. Again, the hearing is not directed straight, but by a spiral-shaped pathway it takes hold of the noises in the air. This indeed exhibits the highest wisdom, enabling sound to pass though unhindered, or rather be led in, bending around the twists, while nothing from outside that accidentally falls in can be a hindrance to the auditory perception. Examine closely the nature of the tongue, how it is tender and nimble and is sufficient by its varied movement for every need of speech. Teeth, also organs of speech, provide strong resistance to the tongue and at the same time also take care of food, some cutting it and others grinding it. And so when you have traversed all things with suitable reflection on each, and have observed carefully how air is drawn in through breath, how warmth is kept around the heart, and the organs of digestion, and the channels of blood, from all these you will perceive the unsearchable wisdom of the Creator [Rom 11.33].

There is nothing unpremeditated, nothing neglected by God. His unsleeping eye beholds all things.

There is still time for endurance, time for patience, time for healing, time for change. Have you slipped? Rise up. Have you sinned? Cease. Do not stand among sinners, but leap aside.

Those who are idle in the pursuit of righteousness count theological terminology as secondary, together with attempts to search out the hidden meaning in this phrase or that syllable, but those conscious of the goal of our calling realize that we are to become like God, as far as this is possible for human nature. But we cannot become like God unless we have knowledge of Him, and without lessons there will be no knowledge. Instruction begins with the proper use of speech, and syllables and words are the elements of speech. Therefore to scrutinize syllables is not a superfluous task

Those who give potions for the destruction of a child conceived in the womb are murderers, as are those who take potions which kill the child.

Those who lived many years before teach posterity by instruction preserved in their writings; and we, though so far separated in the body, are always near in thought, and converse together with ease. Instruction is bounded neither by sea nor land, if only we have a care for our soul?s profit.

To lovers of the truth, nothing can be put before God and hope in Him.

Strive to attain to the greater virtues, but do not neglect the lesser ones. Do not make light of a fall even if it be the most venial of faults; rather, be quick to repair it by repentance, although many others may commit a large number of faults, slight and grievous, and remain unrepentant.

The ambition of the unprincipled seizes upon places of authority [the bishops of Rome]; and the chief seat [the seat of the Pope] is now openly proposed as a reward for impiety; so that he whose blasphemies are the more shocking, is more eligible for the oversight of the people.[The Pope] Priestly gravity has perished; there are none left to feed the Lord's flock with knowledge; ambitious men are ever spending, in purposes of self-indulgence and bribery, possessions which they hold in trust for the poor. The accurate observation of the canons (The traditions of the fathers) are no more; there is no restraint upon sin. Unbelievers laugh at what they see, and the weak are unsettled; faith is doubtful, ignorance is poured over their souls, because the adulterators of the word in wickedness imitate the truth. Religious people keep silence, but every blaspheming tongue is let loose. Sacred things are profaned; those of the laity who are sound in faith avoid the places of worship, as schools of impiety, and raise their hands in solitude with groans and tears to the Lord in heaven.

No one. I feel sure, is more distressed at the present condition, or, rather to speak more truly, ill condition of the Churches than your excellency; for you compare the present with the past, and take into account how great a change has come about. You are well aware that if no check is put to the swift deterioration which we are witnessing, there will soon be nothing to prevent the complete transformation of the Churches. And if the decay of the Churches seems so pitiful to me, what must-so I have often in my lonely musings reflected-be the feelings of one who has known, by experience, the old tranquility of the Churches of the Lord, and their one mind about the faith?

Now, if you notice how the swan, putting its neck down into the deep water, brings up food for itself from below, then you will discover the wisdom of the Creator, in that He gave it a neck longer than its feet for this reason, that it might, as if lowering a sort of fishing line, procure the food hidden in the deep water.

On meeting this man, I heartily thanked God that by means of his visit He had comforted me in many afflictions and had through him shown me clearly your love. I seem to see in one man's disposition the zeal of all of you for the truth. He will tell you of our discourses with one another. What you ought to learn directly from me is as follows. We live in days when the overthrow of the Churches seems imminent; of this I have long been cognizant. There is no edification of the Church; no correction of error; no sympathy for the weak; no single defense of sound brethren; no remedy is found either to heal the disease which has already seized us, or as a preventive against that which we expect. Altogether the state of the Church (if I may use a plain figure though it may seem too humble an one) is like an old coat, which is always being torn and can never be restored to its original strength. At such a time, then, there is need of great effort and diligence that the Churches may in some way be benefited. It is an advantage that parts hitherto severed should be united. Union would be affected if we were willing to accommodate ourselves to the weaker, where we can do so without injury to souls?

Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the (Apostollic) Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world (Greek and Roman Philosophy) is given the place of honor and (they) have rejected the glorying of the cross. Shepherds (who follow the old ways) are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived.

Persecution has come upon us, right honorable brethren, and persecution in the severest form. Shepherds are persecuted that their flocks may be scattered. And the worst of all is that those who are being treated ill cannot accept their sufferings in proof of their testimony, nor can the people reverence the athletes as in the army of martyrs, because the name of Christians is applied to the persecutors. The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers.

Science which is acquired unwillingly, soon disappears; that which is instilled into the mind in a pleasant and agreeable manner, is more lasting.

Has the Lord completely abandoned His Church? Has the hour then come and is the fall beginning in this way so that now the man of sin is clearly revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and is lifted up above all that is called God or that is worshipped?

He who confesses magic or sorcery shall do penance for the time of murder, and shall be treated in the same manner as he who convicts himself of this sin.

Author Picture
First Name
Saint Basil, aka Basil of Caesarea, Saint Basil the Great
Birth Date
329
Death Date
379
Bio

Greek Bishop of Caesarea Mazaca, Influential Theologian supporting the Nicene Creed, opposed Arianism