THE HOLY LIFE OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT (Part II)

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

THE HOLY LIFE OF SAINT BASIL THE GREAT (Part II)

The holy bishop commissioned a goldsmith to fashion a dove of pure gold, as an image of what took place at the Baptism of Christ, when Saint John the Baptist bore witness, saying, "I have beheld the Spirit descending out of Heaven, AS A DOVE, and He ABODE UPON Him" (John 1:32). He then suspended it above the Holy Table as a receptacle in which to store the Mysteries.

Whenever the Saint served the Divine Liturgy and ELEVATED THE HOLY GIFTS, THAT GOLDEN DOVE, which was suspended above the Holy Altar, shook thrice by the power of God. However, one day, when Saint Basil was serving, the usual sign of the movement of the dove did not take place. Saint Basil pondered why this should have happened now. Then he observed that one of the Deacons, who was holding the fans, was gazing earnestly at a woman standing in the church. The Deacon was dismissed and given penance. He was to pray and fast for seven days and distribute alms to the poor. As a result of this incident, Saint Basil COMMANDED THAT A VEIL BE HUNG AND A PARTITION CONSTRUCTED BEFORE THE SANCTUARY.

Today, the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great is celebrated by the Orthodox Church only TEN TIMES A YEAR: the FIVE SUNDAYS OF The Great Lent (Fast), Great Thursday, Great Saturday, the Eve of the Nativity of Our Lord, the Eve of the Theophany, and the Feast Day of the Saint January 1st.

The Saint’s Writings

Saint Basil the Great bequeathed to us many superb writings which may be arranged by categories: Liturgics, Dogmatic theology [Against Evnomios, On the Holy Spirit, The Hexaemeron), Exegetic (interpretations of the Holy Scripture), Thirteen Homilies on the Psalms, Sermons for the various feasts of the Martyrs, Instructions, Sermons on practical ethics.  The Moral Rules, Asceticism (The Long Rules, The Short Rules, the basics of the coenobitic life, including enlistment in the SACRED WARFARE, on renunciation of the world and spiritual perfection, and the virtues exhibited in the life of the solitary), Epistles (368 letters to diverse peoples on different subjects are extant), Canon of the Great Basil (contained in the Sixth Ecumenical Synot), and a PHILOKALIA (compiled by Saint Basil and Saint Gregory while they took up the ascetic life together in Pontos.


Famine

   In 368 A.D. a great famine befell the Saint's Diocese so that many perished from hunger.  What then did the holy man do to remedy this calamity?  Seeing that the nobles and landed gentry of his Diocese were greedily guarding their wheat in granaries, and not dispersing it to the poor, he was profoundly grieved by their hardness.  Such was the character of the nobles of Caesarea at the time.  Therefore, every day the Saint kept on teaching about almsgiving (charity); he admonished them, exhorted them, and he put his words in writing.  With this manner of constraint, he persuaded the wealthy to open the granaries.  Then, as an imitator of the Master Christ Who washed the feet of His Disciples, the holy Basil served in the apportionment of the wheat; he singlehandedly boiled the legumes and solely distributed food to the poor.  Now, this attended to for many days, until he took care of the hungry.

   His Falling Asleep in the Lord

   Although very weak and dying, by the grace of God, the Archbishop arose and walked to the church where he baptized his Jewish physician Joseph and his family.  He gave him the name John.  The Saint then asked his physician John:  "When shall I die, Sir John?" And he answered, "Whenever thou will determine, holy master."  As the physician answered, the Saint surrendered his honorable soul, replete with light, into the hands of God.  John fell at his feet, weeping and wailing.  It was the 1st of January 379 A.D.  His last words were, "INTO THY HANDS I WILL COMMIT MY SPIRIT; THOU HAS REDEEMED ME, O LORD GOD OF TRUTH" (Psalm 30:5).

   Saint Basil the Great had only a single worn-out garment and ate almost nothing but bread, salt, and herbs.  In 375 A.D., his health worsened, and he wrote:  "I was so ill that I had lost all hope of life… I have now completed the time of my sojourn in this miserable and painful life."  He gave Glory to God, and confessed, "So far, I have sustained every assault unmoved.  This has come about by the mercy of God, which supplies to me the aid of the Spirit and strengthens my weakness through Him."

   Saint Gregory lauds his friend in a funeral oration, saying, "After he  (St. Basil) finished his course, and kept the Faith (cf. 2 Timothy 4:7), he longed to depart."  The whole city poured around him, unable to endure the loss of their shepherd. [Source:  The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]

__________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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