Fathers of the Church

Letter CCLXXXVIII: Without Address

Description

A letter of excommunication.

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

WHEN public punishment fails to bring a man to his senses, or exclusion from the prayers of the Church to drive him to repentance, it only remains to treat him in accordance with our Lord's directions—as it is written, " If thy brother shall trespass against thee ....tell him his fault between thee and him; ... if he will not hear thee, take with 'thee another;" "and if he shall" then " neglect to hear, tell it unto the Church; but if he neglect to hear even the Church, let him be unto thee henceforth as an heathen man, and as a publican." Now all this we have done in the case of this fellow. First, he was accused of his fault; then he was convicted in the presence of one or two witnesses; thirdly, in the presence of the Church. Thus we have made our solemn protest, and he has not listened to it. Henceforth let him be excommunicated.

Further, let proclamation be made throughout the district, that he be excluded from participation in any of the ordinary relations of life; so that by our withholding ourselves from all intercourse with him he may become altogether food for the devil.

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.