January 2, 2015

The Benefit of Reading the Works of Basil the Great

By St. Gregory the Theologian

Whenever I handle his Hexaemeron, and take its words on my lips, I am brought into the presence of the Creator, and understand the words of creation, and admire the Creator more than before, using my teacher as my only means of sight.

Whenever I take up his polemical works, I see the fire of Sodom [Genesis 19:24], by which the wicked and rebellious tongues are reduced to ashes, or the tower of Babel, impiously built [Genesis 11:4], and justly destroyed.

Whenever I read his writings on the Spirit, I find the God Whom I possess, and grow bold in my utterance of the truth, from the support of his theology and contemplation.

His other treatises, in which he gives explanations for those who are shortsighted, by a threefold inscription on the solid tablets of his heart, lead me on from a mere literal or symbolic interpretation to a still wider view, as I proceed from one depth to another, calling upon deep after deep, and finding light after light, until I attain the highest pinnacle.

When I study his panegyrics on our athletes, I despise the body, and enjoy the society of those whom he is praising, and rouse myself to the struggle.

His moral and practical discourses purify soul and body, making me a temple fit for God, and an instrument struck by the Spirit, to celebrate by its strains the glory and power of God. In fact, he reduces me to harmony and order, and changes me by a Divine transformation.

From Oration 43: "The Funeral Oration of Basil the Great"