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Fathers of the Church

Letter XXXVII: Without Address

Description

Basil requests that the addressee keep his old home at its current assessment, so that it may continue to support both himself and his foster brother.

Provenance

St. Basil's correspondence is a copious and invaluable store of information for the history of the Eastern Church in the fourth century, particularly in Cappadocia. Since he never found a real biographer, his letters represent the best source for his life and times, for his many activities and far-reaching influence, especially for his personality and his character. (Quasten)

by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A

I LOOK with suspicion on the multiplication of letters. Against my will, and because I cannot resist the importunity of petitioners, I am compelled to speak. I write because I can think of no other means of relieving myself than by assenting to the supplications of those who are always asking letters from me. I am really afraid lest, since many are carrying letters off, one of the many be reckoned to be that brother. I have, I own, many friends and relatives in my own country, and I am placed in loco parentis by the position a which the Lord has given me. Among them is this my foster brother, son of my nurse, and I pray that the house in which I was brought up may remain at its old assessment, so that the sojourn among us of your excellency, so beneficial to us all, may turn out no occasion of trouble to him. Now too I am supported from the same house, because I have nothing of my own, but depend upon those who love me. I do then entreat you to spare the house in which I was nursed as though you were keeping up the supply of support for me. May God in return grant you His everlasting rest. One thing however, and it is most true, I think your excellency ought to know, and that is that the greater number of the slaves were given him from the outset by us, as an equivalent for my sustenance, by the gift of my father and mother. At the same time this was not to be regarded as an absolute gift; he was only to have the use for life, so that, if anything serious happen to him on their account, he is at liberty to send them back to me, and I shall thus in another way be responsible for rates and to collectors.

Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (PNPF II/VIII, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.