ON JANUARY 1st
OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH
COMMEMORATES SAINT BASIL THE GREAT,
ARCHBISHOP OF CAESAREA IN CAPPADOCIA
By Amphilochius, Bishop of Amaseia
Basil, preeminent among hierarchs, wisest of saintly teachers, and a wondrous favorite of God, was born in Cappadocia toward the end of the Great Constantine’s reign. His father was also named Basil, and his mother, Emmelia. He learned to read at the age of seven, and progressed so rapidly in his studies that five years later he was already engaged in philosophical inquiry. Eventually, he forsook his homeland and moved to Athens, the fount of Hellenic (Greek) wisdom, where he took lessons with the renowned teacher Evvulus, at the same time visiting the schools of Hymerius and Proeresius. Basil soon equaled, then surpassed his teachers, who were amazed at his diligence and intelligence, and still more at his modesty and purity. In Athens, Basil became friends with Gregory the Theologian, later Bishop of Nazianzus. Between Basil and Gregory a warm and unbreakable bond of love was formed, for both were meek, chaste, and upright…
“…The wondrous Basil devoted much effort to attain an understanding of Divine mysteries, to the point of neglecting to eat…One night, while he was meditating on the Only Wise Creator and True God, a Divine ray penetrated his heart, kindling in him a fiery longing to comprehend the Scriptures on the most profound level. Leaving Athens and his friend Gregory, Basil went to Egypt. During this time he significantly deepened his understanding of the True faith…
“…Basil and Evvulus returned to the Holy City and remained there for one year. Afterward, they went to Antioch, where Archbishop Meletius ordained Basil to the Diaconate. In Antioch Basil occupied himself with studying the Scriptures. Before he departed for Cappadocia, his homeland, still accompanied by Evvulus. As they were nearing Caesarea, Leontius, Archbishop of that city, had a dream in which he was told of their approach and that Basil would eventually inherit his See. The next morning, Leontius summoned his archdeacon and several esteemed clergymen, commanding them to go to the eastern gates of the city and bring him the two strangers they found there. Leontius was amazed when Basil and Evvulus were presented to him because they were the same men he saw in the dream. Thereupon, he ordered the table set and summoned his clergy and the most eminent citizens. When everyone had assembled, he explained to them his dream. With one voice the clergy exclaimed, “God ahs indicated your successor to you because of your virtuous life! Do with him as you think best. The Lord has clearly chosen him, and he is WORTHY OF ALL RESPECT.”
“… In Caesarea Basil became a monk, and imitated the manner of life he had observed while visiting the ascetics of Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia. He was ordained Presbyter (Priest) by Hermogenes, who became Archbishop after Leontius died, and was appointed instructor of all the monks living in the Diocese. When Hermogenes departed the world, the people wished to have the holy Basil as their Prelate, remembering how he had been forechosen and considering him worthy of the episcopacy, but the Saint, who disliked being held in high esteem, hid from them. Basil decided to retire not the wilderness of Pontus…
“…Basil was able to convince his good friend Gregory the Theologian to join him at the Pontus retreat. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the Saints compiled A RULE (MONASTIC) FOR COENOBITES. The blessed Emmelia, Basil’s mother who resided in a village across the river Iris, provided their food. She was already a widow and was devoting her remaining years to pleasing God.
The time came when both Basil and Gregory had to leave the wilderness and serve the Church, which was then troubled by HERETICS.
“…Before long, Archbishop Eusebius surrendered his spirit into God’s hands while resting in Basil’s arms. The Great Basil was elevated to the Archiepiscopal throne and CONSECRATED BY NUMEROUS BISHOPS, among whom was Gregory of Nazianzus, father of Gregory the Theologian… Basil governed the Church of Christ well and ordained his brother Peter to the Priesthood. Peter assisted the Saint considerably and eventually, Basil appointed him Bishop of Sevastea. At that time their mother, the blessed Emmelia, departed to the Lord. She was more than ninety years old. Her children were known for their outstanding virtue, especially Basil and Peter, another son, Gregory Bishop of Nyssa, and her eldest daughter Makrina. (Source: The Great Collection of The Lives of the Saints)
(To be continued)
“Glory Be To GOD For All Things!” +Saint John Chrysostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God