Spirituality for Today – January 2014 – Volume 18, Issue 6

Saint of the Month
St. Basil the Great

January 2

An illustration of Saint Basil the GreatSaint Basil the Great

From a distinguished wealthy family, Basil received an extensive education in Constantinople and Athens, where he developed a lifelong friendship with Gregory of Nazianzen. Basil then pursued a brilliant career as a lawyer and teacher of oratory. Worried that pride would interfere with his piety, Basil decided to give up his career and become a monk.

He traveled to eastern monastic centers to study their way of life and then founded the first monastery in Asia Minor at Pontus. Convinced that loving obedience was preferable to harsh discipline, Basil developed a monastic rule that became so popular it is still practiced in the Eastern Church. Over the next few years, Basil preached eloquently to crowds and founded several other monasteries.

Basil was appointed Archbishop of Caesarea in 370, when the Church was battling the heresy of Arianism. To fight back, Basil promoted the philosophy of the Trinity to show the Father, the son and the Holy Spirit were three persons on one God. Valens, the Arian emperor, who was persecuting Christians, threatened him with death or exile, but Basil persevered and Valens eventually backed down.

Basil defended the needy and the oppressed. He also worked to reform the clergy, wrote extensively and built an enormous hospital complex. During a lengthy drought and famine, he used his entire inheritance to help those in need and served food to the hungry himself.

Basil, founder of one of the most important concepts in Christian philosophy, died at the young age of 49.

Lord our God, teach us to ask for the right blessings.
Steer the vessel of our life toward You, tranquil haven of storm-tossed souls.
Show us the course wherein we should go.
Renew a willing spirit within us.
Let Your Spirit curb our wayward senses,
And guide and enable us unto that which is our true good,
to keep Your laws, and in all our work everywhere
to rejoice in your glorious and gladdening Presence.
For Yours is the glory and praise from all Your saints
Forever and ever.


From Ordinary People Extraordinary Lives