Saint Basil of Caesarea (c. 329–378/9 CE) was a monk, bishop, preacher, theologian, and social activist who had very down-to-earth views about eating, drinking, fasting, and feasts in honor of local martyrs. In this new collection of sermon translations—most offered here in English for the first time—Basil addresses such issues as drunkenness, hesitations over baptism, community benefits of fasting, how to be thankful when facing loss and disaster, and the mystery of the incarnation. Also included are three sermons on local martyrs Julitta, Mamas, and Barlaam. This small volume of elegant translations will be a vital and valued resource for anyone interested in religion and the body, early Christian spiritual disciplines, and their application to the Church today.
“It is because we did not fast that we were banished from paradise. So let us fast that we may return to it.15” (Page 57)
“So then, since Scripture uses the lion to indicate royalty, and laying down to indicate suffering, and the power to bless to indicate divinity, the magi are following the prophecy when they present gold as to a king, frankincense as to one who will die, and myrrh as to God.” (Page 37)
“But because you are overly attached to self-indulgence, you have failed to notice that you make self-indulgence banal to yourself and destroy its pleasure by love of pleasure. For while there is nothing so desirable that it does not become loathsome through continual enjoyment, what is taken rarely is enjoyed quite eagerly.” (Page 65)
“Your stomach should also give your mouth a kind of vacation and agree to a five-day truce with us,52 seeing that it makes endless demands but never ceases, forgetting tomorrow what it received today. When it’s full, it philosophizes about self-control; when it’s empty, it forgets these teachings.” (Page 64)
“So then, since they are opposed to one another, let us diminish the comfort of our flesh and boost the strength of our souls, so that through fasting from the passions we may achieve victory and be rewarded with the crowns of self-control.” (Page 76)