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Fathers of the Church

Letter XCVII: to the Senate of Tyana

Description

A brief letter to the Senate.

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

THE Lord, Who reveals hidden things, and makes manifest the counsels of men's hearts, has given even to the lowly knowledge of devices apparently hard to be understood. Nothing has escaped my notice, nor has any single action been unknown. Nevertheless I neither see nor hear anything but the peace of God and all that pertains to it. Others may be great and powerful and self-confident, but I am nothing and worth nothing, and so I could never take upon myself so much as to think myself able to manage matters without support. I know perfectly well that I stand more in need of the succour of each of the brethren than one hand does of the other. Truly, from our own bodily constitution, the Lord has taught us the necessity of fellowship. When I look to these my limbs and see that no out of them is self-sufficient, how can I reckon myself competent to discharge the duties of life? One foot could not walk securely without the support of the other; one eye could not see well, were it not for the alliance of the other and for its being able to look at objects in conjunction with it. Hearing is more exact when sound is received through both channels, and the grasp is made firmer by the fellowship of the fingers. In a word, of all that is done by nature and by the will, I see nothing done without the concord of fellow forces. Even prayer, when it is not united prayer, loses its natural strength and the Lord has told us that He will be in the midst where two or three call on Him in concord. The Lord Himself undertook the economy, that by the blood of His cross He might make peace between things in earth and things in heaven. For all these reasons then, I pray that I may for my remaining days remain in peace; in peace I ask that it may be my lot to fall asleep. For peace's sake there is no trouble that I will not undertake, no act, no word of humility, that I will shrink from; I will reckon no length of journey, I will undergo any inconvenience, if only I may be rewarded by being able to make peace. If I am followed by any one in this direction, it is well, and my prayers are answered; but if the result is different I shall not recede from my determination. Every one will receive the fruit of his own works in the day of retribution.

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.