Fathers of the Church
Letter CLXXIV: to a Widow
by Basil the Great in 357-370 | translated by Blomfield Jackson, M.A
I HAVE been most wishful to write constantly to your excellency, but I have from time to time denied myself, for fear of causing any temptation to beset you, because of those who are ill disposed toward me. As I am told, their hatred has even gone so far that they make a fuss if any one happens to receive a letter from me. But now that you have begun to write yourself, and very good it is of you to do so, sending me needful information about all that is in your mind, I am stirred to write back to you. Let me then set right what has been omitted in the past, and at the same time reply to what your excellency has written. Truly blessed is the soul, which by night and by day has no other anxiety than how, when the great day comes wherein all creation shall stand before the Judge and shall give an account for its deeds, she too may be able easily to get quit of the reckoning of life.
For he who keeps that day and that hour ever before him, and is ever meditating upon the defence to be made before the tribunal where no excuses will avail, will sin not at all, or not seriously, for we begin to sin when there is a lack of the fear of God in us. When men have a clear apprehension of what is threatened them, the awe inherent in them will never allow them to fall into inconsiderate action or thought. Be mindful therefore of God. Keep the fear of Him in your heart, and enlist all men to join with you in your prayers, for great is the aid of them that are able to move God by their importunity. Never cease to do this. Even while we are living this life in the flesh, prayer will be a mighty helper to as, and when we are departing hence it will be a sufficient provision for us on the journey to the world to come.
Anxiety is a good thing; but, on the other hand, despondency, dejection, and despair of our salvation, are injurious to the soul. Trust therefore in the goodness of God, and look for His succour, knowing that if we turn to Him rightly and sincerely, not only will He not cast us off forever, but will say to us, even while we are in the act of uttering the words of our prayer, "Lo! I am with you."
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.