And our Church Doctor today is St. Basil the Great.
St. Basil the Great was born around 329 and died in 379. He was a friend and colleague to St. Gregory Nazianzen. Basil is known as ‘The Father of Eastern Monasticism’, which means he was on the fore-front of bringing the monastic life to the Catholic Church centered around Constantinople. We celebrate his feast day on January 2. (St. Basil the Great is the brother of St. Gregory of Nyssa.)
Like many of his contemporaries, Basil was a staunch opponent to the Arian heresy and a vocal supporter of the Nicene Creed. Basil’s vehicle to fight the heresy, as well as being one of his great contributions to the history of the church, is his work with the way the church prays. Basil taught that the church prays what it believes. In others words: if you want to know what we teach and believe as Catholics, look to way in which we offer our liturgical prayer like Holy Mass and the Sacraments. Basil used the liturgy and liturgical prayer to better articulate what it was we believe as Catholics. He wrote one of the Eucharistic prayers (called an anaphora) we use at Mass and also made the Book of Psalms a vital part of our private and public worship. St. Basil also had a deep love for Sacred Scripture. He wrote, “The Word calls us to repentance, crying out: ‘Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you.’ There is, then, a way to salvation if we are willing to follow it.” Of Basil, Pope Benedict XVI writes, “[Basil] became an ‘apostle and minister of Christ, steward of God’s mysteries, herald of the Kingdom, a model and rule of piety, an eye of the Body of the Church, a Pastor of Christ’s sheep, a loving doctor, father, and nurse, a cooperator of God, a farmer of God, a builder of God’s temple’” (from Basil’s work, Moralia, as cited in Benedict’s Church Fathers, Vol. 1).
We ask St. Basil to pray for us today; we ask him to inspire in us a desire to serve as he served- with dedication and zeal to bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. Amen.