His zealous and intrepid defense of the orthodox faith and his contribution to handling the external affairs of the Eastern Church were by no means the whole service to which St. Basil the Great devoted his considerable talents. His life both exemplified and shaped the ascetical movement of his time. After renouncing a brilliant career as rhetorician, he traveled widely, studying the various forms of asceticism practiced in Eastern Christendom. On his return, he retired in the year 358 to a place near Neocaesarea to put into practice the best of what he had seen, and there disciples soon joined him. When his friend Gregory of Nazianzus visited him there in 358, he began to write his Rules and other works that have had great importance in promoting and regulating the common life of monasticism. This life, regulated and freed from excess, as an expression of the law of charity was to be the monk’s path to union with God. Basil’s concept of the monastic ideal, socially directed and moderate without being lax, became the fundamental concept of Greek and Slavonic monasticism, and it influenced St. Benedict in legislating for Western monasticism.
The ascetical writings of St. Basil contained in this volume, addressed to both monks and laymen, are of prime importance for understanding the role their author played in the Church of the fourth century and, through his influence, still plays today.
“‘Give heed to thyself,’ then—and bear in mind that one part of your soul is rational and intelligent, the other emotional and non-rational. Authority belongs to the former by nature and to the latter, submission and obedience to the reason. Never, therefore, allow your mind to become the bound slave of the passions, nor permit the passions to rise up against reason and usurp power over the soul. In short, scrupulous attention to yourself will be of itself sufficient to guide you to the knowledge of God. If you give heed to yourself, you will not need to look for signs of the Creator in the structure of the universe; but in yourself, as in a miniature replica of cosmic order, you will contemplate the great wisdom of the Creator.” (Pages 443–444)
“In this careful analysis, represented by the few passages I have quoted, I think the Apostle designates this great prevenient grace of God’s infinite benevolence as one for which we cannot make a return. It was first bestowed on us in the love of Christ Jesus, our Lord, whose obedience even unto death, as it is written,136 wrought for us the remission of ours sins, deliverance from death in sin which endures forever, reconciliation with God, the power of becoming pleasing to God, a free gift of justice, companionship with the saints in eternal life, inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, and countless other blessings as a reward.” (Page 373)
“We believe in and confess the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, ‘whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption,’39 the Spirit of truth,40 ‘the spirit of adoption of sons whereby we cry: Abba (Father),’41 who worketh and divideth the gifts of God to every one according as He wills unto profit;42 who teaches and brings to mind whatever He hears from the Son;43 who is good and shows the way to all truth and confirms all believers unto certain knowledge, true confession, pious worship, and adoration in spirit and truth44 of God the Father and His Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of Himself.” (Pages 64–65)
In the Logos edition, this work becomes enhanced by amazing functionality. Links to the patristic writings of the Early Church Fathers will bring you right to the source—to the very quote—allowing you to see instant context. Footnotes appear on mouseover, as well as references to Scripture and extra-biblical material in your library, and you can perform near-instant searches across these volumes, searching for references to keywords or Scripture passages.
Basil of Caesarea (330–379) was bishop of Caesarea and an influential figure in the fourth century Church. The Orthodox Church reveres him as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs (along with Ss. Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom), and he is commemorated on January 1. He is best known for his monastic Rule as well as his monumental Treatise on the Holy Spirit. His homilies on the six days of creation (Hexaemeron) as well as on the Psalter are also treasured. The Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great, used in the Orthodox Church throughout Great Lent, as well as on other specific feast days, is also attributed to him.