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Fathers of the Church

Letter CLI: to Eustathius the Physician

Description

Basil had a great longing for friendship and loyalty. Thus the letters addressed to friends for the exchange of ideas, for consolation, encouragement and advice are especially numerous. He is always anxious to hear from his friends and often asks them to write. (Quasten)

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 my letters are of any good, lose no time in writing to me and in rousing me to write. We are unquestionably made more cheerful when we read the letters of wise men who love the Lord. It is for you to say, who read it, whether you find anything worth attention in what I write. Were it not for the multitude of my engagements, I should not debar myself from the pleasure of writing frequently. Pray do you, whose cares are fewer, soothe me by your letters. Wells, it is said, are the better for being used. The exhortations which you derive from your profession are apparently beside the point, for it is not I who the applying the knife; it is men whose day is done, who are filling upon themselves. The phrase of the Stoics runs, "since things do not happen as we like, we like what happens;" but I cannot make my mind fall in with what is happening. That some men should do what they do not like because they cannot help it, I have no objection. You doctors do not cauterise a sick man, or make him suffer pain in some other way, because you like it; but you often adopt this treatment in obedience to the necessity of he case. Mariners do not willingly throw heir cargo overboard; but in order to escape shipwreck they put up with the loss, preferring a life of penury to death. Be sure that I look with sorrow and with many groans upon the separation of those who are holding themselves aloof. But yet I endure it. To lovers of the truth nothing can be put before God and hope in Him.

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.