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Fathers of the Church

Letter XXVI: to Caesarius, Brother of Gregory

Description

Basil exhorts Caesarius to serve God even more fervently due to his preservation from "so terrible a death."

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

THANKS to God for shewing forth His wonderful power in your person, and for preserving you to your country and to us your friends, from so terrible a death. It remains for us not to be ungrateful, nor unworthy of so great a kindness, but, to the best of our ability, to narrate the marvellous works of God, to celebrate by deed the kindness which we have experienced, and not return thanks by word only. We ought to become in very deed what I, grounding my belief on the miracles wrought in you, am persuaded that you now are. We exhort you still more to serve God, ever increasing your fear more and more, and advancing on to perfection, that we may be made wise stewards of our life, for which the goodness of God has reserved us. For if it is a command to all of us "to yield ourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead," how much more strongly is not this commanded them who have been lifted up from the gates of death? And this, I believe, would be best effected, did we but desire ever to keep the same mind in which we were at the moment of our perils. For, I ween, the vanity of our life came before us, and we felt that all that belongs to man, exposed as it is to vicissitudes, has about it nothing sure, nothing firm. We felt, as was likely, repentance for the past; and we gave a promise for the future, if we were saved, to serve God and give careful heed to ourselves. If the imminent peril of death gave me any cause for reflection, I think that you must have been moved by the same or nearly the same thoughts. We are therefore bound to pay a binding debt, at once joyous at God's good gift to us, and, at the same time, anxious about the future. I have ventured to make these suggestions to you. It is yours to receive what I say well and kindly, as you were wont to do when we talked together face to face.

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.