Skip to comments.St. Basil
Posted on 08/01/2007 8:14:33 PM PDT by ELS
Dear brothers and sisters!
After a pause of three weeks, we resume our usual Wednesday encounters. Today I will continue my last catechesis on the life and writings of St. Basil, bishop in what is now Turkey, then known as Asia Minor, in the fourth century. The life of this great saint and his works are rich with points for reflection and teaching that are valid even today.
Above all, his emphasis on the mystery of God, which remains the most significant and vital reference point for man. The Father is "the beginning of all and the cause for being of all that exists, the root of everything that lives" (Hom. 15,2 de fide: PG 31,465c), and above all, he is "the father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Anaphora sancti Basilii). By reaching to God through his creatures, we "become aware of his goodness and his wisdom" (Basilio, Contra Eunomium 1,14: PG 29,544b). The Son is "the image of the goodness of the Father and in form equal to him" (cfr Anaphora sancti Basilii). With his obedience and through his Passion, the incarnate Word realized his mission as Redeemer of mankind" (cfr Basilio, In Psalmum 48,8: PG 29,452ab; cfr anche De Baptismo 1,2: SC 357,158).
Finally, he also talks amply of the Holy Spirit, to whom he dedicated an entire book. He tells us that the Spirit animates the Church, fills it with his gifts, makes it holy. The splendid light of the divine mystery shines down on man, image of God, and elevates his dignity. Looking at Christ, one understands fully the dignity of man. Basil exclaims, "Man, take note of your greatness, considering the price that has been paid for you. Look on the price of your salvation and understand your dignity!" (In Psalmum 48,8: PG 29, 452b). In particular, the Christian, living in conformity with the Gospel, recognizes that all men are brothers among themselves; that life is an administration of the gifts received from God, for which each one is responsible with respect to others; and whoever is rich should be like 'an executor of orders from God the benefactor' (Hom. 6 de avaritia: PG 32,1181-1196). We should all help each other and cooperate as members of one body"(Ep. 203,3).
In his homilies, Basil used courageous and strong words in this respect. Whoever, according to God's commandment, would love his neighbor as himself "should not possess anything more than his neighbor has" (Hom. in divites: PG 31,281b). In a time of famines and calamities, the saintly bishop exhorted the faithful with passionate words "not to be more cruel than the beasts...by taking and possessing what belongs to everyone in common" (Hom. tempore famis: PG 31,325a). Basil's profound thinking is obvious in this suggestive statement: "All those who are in need look at our hands as we look at the hands of God when we are in need." The eulogy of Gregory Nazianzene at Basil's death was indeed well-merited: "Basil persuaded us that we, as men, should not look down on other men, nor offend Christ, our common head, by our inhumanity towards our fellowmen; rather, in the misfortune of others, we should benefit by lending our own mercy to God's, because we too need his mercy" (Gregory Nazianzene, Oratio 43,63: PG 36,580b). These are words which are very topical today. We see here how St. Basil was truly one of the Fathers of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Moreover, Basil reminds us that in order to keep alive in us our love for God and our fellowmen, we need the Eucharist, the appropriate nourishment for all who are baptized, capable of nourishing the new energies arising from Baptism (cfr De Baptismo 1,3: SC 357,192). It is cause for immense joy to be able to participate in the Eucharist, he said (Moralia 21,3: PG 31,741a), which was instituted "to guard ceaselessly the memory of Him who died and resurrected for us" (Moralia 80,22: PG 31,869b). The Eucharist, great gift of God, preserves in each of us the seal of baptism and allows us to live its grace in fullness and in faith. That is why the saintly bishop recommends frequent, even daily, Communion: "To receive communion every day, receiving the Body and Blood of Christ is good and useful, because he himself said clearly, 'Who eats my flesh and drinks my blood will have eternal life' (Jn 6,54). Who therefore can doubt that being in communion continually through life is indeed living in fullness?" (Ep. 93: PG 32,484b). In short, we need the Eucharist in order "to have true life, eternal life" (cfr Moralia 21,1: PG 31,737c).
Finally, Basil was interested, of course, in that part of the People of God who are the youth, society's future. He addressed to them a discourse on how to gain something from the pagan culture of the time. With great equilibrium and openness, he acknowledged that Greek and Latin classic literature had many exemplary virtues. In particular, the lives of those who lived rightly could be useful to the young Christian in search of truth, of the right way of living (cfr Ad Adolescentes 3). Nevertheless, he said, one must take from the classic texts what is convenient as well as in conformity with truth: that way, with a critical and open attitude - indeed, of discernment - young people may grow in freedom. Using his famous image of the bees which take from flowers only that which they need to make honey, Basil said, "Just as the bees know how to draw honey from flowers - where other animals are limited to simply enjoying their perfume and colors - so it is with these writings from which we can draw some useful benefit for the spirit. We should use such books following the example of the bees. They do not go indiscriminately from flower to flower, nor do they seek to take away everything from the flower they alight on, but they only take what will serve them to make honey and leave all the rest behind. If we are wise, we shall take from these writings what we need that is in conformity with truth, and leave everything else behind" (Ad Adolescentes 4). Above all, Basil urges young people to grow in virtue, in the right way of living. "While other things that are good may change from one to another as in a game of dice, only virtue is an inalienable good which remains throughout life and after death" (Ad Adolescentes 5).
Dear brothers and sisters, I think we can say that this Father from a remote time speaks even to us and tells us important things. Above all, his attentive, critical and creative participation in the culture of the day. Then, social responsibility: we live in times where, in a globalized world, even peoples who are geographically remote are really our neighbors now. Next, friendship with Christ, God with a human face. And finally, recognition and gratitude towards God the Creator, father of us all: only if we are open to this God, our father in common, can we construct a just world and a fraternal world.
The Holy Father greeted the English speaking faithful in the audience:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I would like to continue our catechesis on Saint Basil, a great fourth-century Doctor of the Church. Saint Basil spoke eloquently of the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of truth, the first-fruits of eternal life, the pledge of our future inheritance, the giver of life”. The Spirit enables us to recognize our human dignity as children of God, and hence our obligations to one another. Saint Basil frequently exhorted the people of his day to give to the poor. Indeed, he said, if we are to love our neighbour as ourselves, we ought not to own any more than our neighbour owns. He had particularly severe words for those who, in time of famine, would take what food there was for themselves, leaving others in want. Saint Basil spoke also of the importance of the Eucharist, food for our souls which nourishes the new life received in Baptism and enables us to live that life to the full. And finally, Saint Basil showed particular concern for young people. He encouraged them to grow in virtue, exercising discernment in order to learn from the positive aspects of the surrounding culture, just as bees know how to extract the goodness from flowers, in order to make honey! This great saint has much to teach us today about love for God and neighbour, and about growth in holiness. Let us learn from his wisdom!
I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from Iceland, Japan, Canada and the United States of America. I extend a special welcome to the musicians present and to the large group from Cherry Hill, Colorado. May the peace and joy of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and may God bless you all!
Copyright 2007 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
The Holy Father had a special greeting to the Scouting movement:
I greet the Scouts of Europe who, with their presence here today reaffirm their participation in the Church, after renewing the Scouts' oath which commits them to fulfill their duty to God and to serve others with generosity. My thoughts go to all Scouts and Guides all over the world, who renew their oaths today, which is the 100th anniversary of the start of the scouts movement. On August 1, 1907, on the island of Brownsea, the first scouts camp in history opened. I hope with all my heart that the educational movement of scouting, which was borne out of the profound intuition of Lord Robert Baden Powell, may continue to produce fruitful results of human, spiritual and civic formation in all the nations of the world.
At the end, he addressed the people of Iraq:
At the conclusion of this general audience, I wish to acknowledge the good news about Iraq which generated an explosion of popular joy in all the nation. I refer to the victory of the Iraqi national team in the Asian Cup (football). It is a historic success for Iraq which has become football champion in Asia for the first time. I have been happily impressed by the enthusiasm which has infected all the people of that country, sending them out into the streets to celebrate. Just as I have wept with them so many times, I now rejoice with them in this event. This experience of happy sharing shows the desire of a people for a normal and peaceful life. I hope that this event may contribute to realize in Iraq, with the contribution of everyone, a future of authentic peace in freedom and in reciprocal respect. Congratulations!
Please let me know if you want to be on or off this list.
Thanks, ELS. These are all priceless. I’m so glad that you have put their names on them so I can add to collections that I have for those saints.
God bless you for your efforots.
This is the same St Basil of the Blessing of the throats?
Thank you again for the ping. The Holy Father shows his servant humility sometimes in the most simple yet profound ways ... he hoorays the Iraqi football teams success to join his voice with the Iraqi people just as he has joined his groans with their suffering. He is a remarkable man indeed.
That is St. Blaise.
That is St. Blaise.
I KNEW it was ONE of those B Saints.
That is St. Blaise.
I KNEW it was ONE of those B Saints.
That is St. Blaise.
I KNEW it was ONE of those B Saints.
By the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every malady of the throat, and from every possible mishap; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.
Saints Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen,
Bishops & Doctors of the Church
Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus,
St. Basil (329-379) was a brilliant student born of a Christian family in Caesarea, Cappadocia (Turkey). For some years, he followed the monastic way of life. He vigorously fought the arian heresy. He become Archbishop of Caesarea in 370. Monks of the Eastern Church today still follow the monastic rules which he se down.
St. Gregory (329-389) was also from Cappadocia. A friend of St. Basil, he too followed the monastic way of life for some years. In 381 he became Archbishop of Constantinople. It was during this period the Arian heresy was at it height. He was called "The Theologian" because of his great learning and talent for oratory.
Source: Daily Roman Missal, Edited by Rev. James Socías, Midwest Theological Forum, Chicago, Illinois ©2003
God our Father,
You inspired the Church
with the example and teaching of Your saints Basil and Gregory.
In humility may we come to know Your truth
and put it into action with faith and love.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
First Reading: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 23:8-12
But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Related page on the Vatican Website: Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Wednesday, July 4, 2007, Saint Basil (part 1) | Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Wednesday, August 1, 2007, Saint Basil (part 2) | Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Wednesday, August 8, 2007, Saint Gregory Nazianzen (part 1) | Benedict XVI, General Audience, Paul VI Audience Hall, Wednesday, August 22, 2007, Gregory Nazianzen (part 2)