Fathers of the Church

Letter CXCI: to Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium

Description

Basil discusses the possiblity of meeting with Amphilochius.

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

ON reading the letter of your reverence I heartily thanked God. I did so because I found in your expressions traces of ancient affection. You are not like the majority. You did not persist in refusing to begin an affectionate correspondence. You have learned the greatness of the prize promised to the saints for humility, and so you have chosen, by taking the second place, to get before me. Among Christians such are the conditions of victory, and it is he who is content to take the second place who wins a crown. But I must not be behindhand in this virtuous rivalry, and so I thus salute your reverence in return; and inform you as to how I am minded, in that, since agreement in the faith is established among us, there is nothing further to prevent our being one body and one spirit, as we have been called in one hope of our calling. It is for you, then, of your charity to follow up a good beginning to rally men of like mind to stand at your side, and to appoint both time and place for meeting. Thus, by God's grace, through mutual accommodation we may govern the Churches by the ancient kind of love; receiving as our own members brothers coming from the other side, sending as to our kin, and in turn receiving as from our own kin. Such, indeed, was once the boast of the Church. Brothers from each Church, travelling from one end of the world to the other, were provided with little tokens, and found all men fathers and brothers. This is a privilege whereof, like all the rest, the enemy of Christ's Churches has robbed us. We are confined each in his own city, and every one looks at his neighbour with distrust. What more is to be said but that our love has grown cold, whereby alone our Lord has told us that His disciples are distinguished? First of all, if you will, do you become known to one another, that I may know with whom I am to be in agreement. Thus by common consent we will fix on some place convenient to both, and, at a season suitable for travelling, we will hasten to meet one another; the Lord will direct us in the way. Farewell. Be of good cheer. Pray for me. May you be granted to me by the grace of the Holy One?

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.