Action Alert!

Fathers of the Church

Letter LVIII: to Gregory My Brother

Description

In this letter Basil tells his brother Gregory of Nyssa that his third letter cannot be trusted because the first two purported to be from the bishop (Basil's uncle Gregory) were forgeries. He states that he is willing to meet with his uncle, but will first need a proper invitation. (See also Letters LIX and LX.)

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

How am I to dispute with you in writing? How can I lay hold of you satisfactorily, with all your simplicity? Tell me; who ever falls a third time into the same nets? Who ever gets a third time into the same snare? Even a brute beast would find it difficult to do so. You forged one letter, and brought it me as though it came from our right reverend uncle the bishop, trying to deceive me, I have no idea why. I received it as a letter written by the bishop and delivered by you. Why should I not? I was delighted; I shewed it to many of my friends; I thanked God. The forgery was found out, on the bishop's repudiating it in person. I was thoroughly ashamed; covered as I was with the disgrace of cunning trickery and lies, I prayed that the earth might open for me. Then they gave me a second letter, as sent by the bishop himself by the hands of your servant Asterius. Even this second had not really been sent by the bishop, as my very reverend brother Anthimus has told me. Now Adamantius has come bringing me a third. How ought I to receive a letter carried by you or yours? I might have prayed to have a heart of stone, so as neither to remember the past, nor to feel the present; so as to bear every blow, like cattle, with bowed head. But what am I to think, now that, after my first and second experience, I can admit nothing without positive proof? Thus I write attacking your simplicity, which I see plainly to be neither what generally becomes a Christian man, nor is appropriate to the present emergency; I write that, at least for the future, you may take care of yourself and spare me. I must speak to you with all freedom, and I tell you that you are an unworthy minister of things so great. However, whoever be the writer of the letter, I have answered as is fit Whether, then, you yourself are experimenting on me, or whether really the letter which you have sent is one which you have received from the bishops, you have my answer. At such a time as this you ought to have borne in mind that you are my brother, and have not yet forgotten the ties of nature, and do not regard me in the light of an enemy, for I have entered on a life which is wearing out my strength, and is so far beyond my powers that it is injuring even my soul. Yet for all this, as you have determined to declare war against me, you ought to have come to me and shared my troubles. For it is said, "Brethren and help are against time of trouble." If the right reverend bishops are really willing to meet me, let them make known to me a place and time, and let them invite me by their own men. I do not refuse to meet my own uncle, but I shall not do so unless the invitation reaches me in due and proper form.

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.