St Basil the Great, a model for all

St Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea (+349)

St Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea (+379)

Today, the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, we celebrate also the Feast of St Basil the Great (+379).

St Basil’s day is traditionally associated with the giving of presents, and on this day St Basil’s Bread (Vasilopita) is also eaten.

SEEING that, while tenderness leads to laxity and slackness, severity gives rise to stubbornness and self-will, he was able to avoid the dangers of each course by a combination of both, blending his correction with consideration, and gentleness with firmness, influencing men in most cases principally by his conduct rather than by argument: not enslaving them by art, but winning them by good nature, and attracting them by the sparing use, rather than by the constant exercise, of his power.

St Gregory Nazianzen, “Funeral Oration on the Great St Basil, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia” §40. St Gregory was a close friend of St Basil. Translation from CCEL.

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A Hymn to the Mother of God

ΙΝ you, O full of grace, all creation rejoices, the ranks of Angels and the human race: hallowed temple and spiritual Paradise, pride of virgins, from whom God was made flesh; and he, who is our God before the ages, became a little Child; for he made your womb a throne; and made it wider than the heavens. In you, O full of grace, all creation rejoices. Glory to you!

From the Liturgy of St Basil, which was indeed substantially compiled by St Basil himself. Translation from Anastasis.

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A Poem for St Basil

St Basil's Bread

St Basil's Bread

THE voice was thine, O Basil, which those who wish to try their hand at praising thee needed; but O forgiving father, apportion grace ungrudgingly to us.

Thou didst discipline the passionate surging of tyrannous flesh by thy love for the philosophic life; wherefore thou dwellest in undefiled palaces, father Basil.

Thou didst tread the rugged path of the virtues; thou hast attained the smooth and undisturbed floor of heaven, and hast been revealed, O Basil, as a model for all.

With the sword of the Spirit thou didst with profit circumcise the passions of the soul, but also of the body; but thyself, thou didst offer as a sacrifice unto the Master.

Becoming in thyself an initiate of mysteries beyond telling, O Basil, thou didst celebrate the mysteries of the Royal Priesthood of Christ, causing the light of the Trinity to blaze out clearly for us.

St John Damascene (+749), a Poem for the Feast of St Basil, sung on the day at Mattins. Original at Analogion.

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