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Fathers of the Church

Letter LXV: to Atarbius

Description

Basil exhorts Atarbius to remain in communion with his brethren.

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

IF I continue to insist on the privileges to which my superior age entitles me, and wait for you to take the initiative in communication, and if you, my friend, wish to adhere more persistently to your evil counsel of inaction, what end will there be to our silence? However, where friendship is involved, to be defeated is in my opinion to win, and so I am quite ready to gave you precedence, and retire from the contest as to which should maintain his own opinion. I have been the first to betake myself to writing, because I know that "charity beareth all things ... endureth all things ... seeketh not her own" and so "never faileth." He who subjects himself to his neighbour in love can never be humiliated. I do beg you, then, at all events for the future, show the first and greatest fruit of the Spirit, Love; away with the angry man's sullenness which you are showing me by your silence, and recover joy in your heart, peace with the brothers who are of one mind with you, and zeal and anxiety for the continued safety of the Churches of the, Lord. If I were not to make as strenuous efforts on behalf of the Churches as the opponents of sound doctrine make to subvert and utterly destroy them, you may be quite sure that there is nothing to prevent the truth from being swept away and destroyed by its enemies, and my being involved in the condemnation, for not shewing all possible anxiety for the unity of the Churches, with all zeal and eagerness in mutual unanimity and godly agreement. I exhort you then, drive out of your mind the idea that you need communion with no one else. To cut one's self off from connexion with the brethren is not the mark of one who is walking by love, nor yet the fulfilling of the commandment of Christ. At the same time I do wish you, with all your good intentions, to take into account that the calamities of the war which are now all round about us may one day be at our own doors, and if we too, like all the rest, have oar share of outrage, we shall not find any even to sympathise with us, because in the hour of our prosperity we refused to give our share of sympathy to the wronged.

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.