Fathers of the Church

Letter CXIV: to Cyriacus, At Tarsus

Description

Basil continues his work to unify the Churches under the Nicene Creed.

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 NEED hardly tell the sons of peace how great is the blessing of peace. But now this blessing, great, marvellous, and worthy as it is of being most strenuously sought by all that love the Lord, is in peril of being reduced to the bare name, because iniquity abounds, and the love of most men has waxed cold. I think then that the one great end of all who are really and truly serving the Lord ought to be to bring back to union the Churches now "at sundry times and in divers managers" divided from one another. In attempting myself to effect this, I cannot fairly be blamed as a busybody, for nothing is so characteristically Christian as the being a peacemaker, and for this reason our Lord has promised us peacemakers a very high reward.

When, therefore, I had met the brethren, and learnt how great was their brotherly love, their regard for you, and yet more their love for Christ, and their exactitude and firmness in all that concerns the faith, and moreover their earnestness in compassing two ends, the not being separated from your love, and the not abandoning their sound faith. I approved of their good disposition; and I now write to your reverence beseeching you with all love to retain them in true union, and associated with you in all your anxiety for the Church. I have moreover pledged myself to them for your orthodoxy, and that you too by God's grace are enrolled to fight with all vigour for the truth, whatever you may have to suffer for the true doctrine. My own opinion is that the following conditions are such as will not run counter to your own feeling and will be quite sufficient to satisfy the above mentioned brethren; namely, that you should confess the faith put forth by our Fathers once assembled at Nicaea, that you should not omit any one of its propositions, but bear in mind that the three hundred and eighteen who met together without strife did not speak without the operation of the Holy Ghost, and not to add to that creed the statement that the Holy Ghost is a creature, nor hold communion with those who so say, to the end that the Church of God may be pure and without any evil admixture of any tare. If this full assurance is given them by your good feeling, they are prepared to offer proper submission to you. And I myself promise for the brethren that they will offer no opposition, but will show themselves entirely subordinate, if only your excellency shall have readily granted this one thing which they ask for.

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.