Saint Basil the Great & Saint Gregory Nazianzian

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Sts Basil, John Gregory.jpg

Saint Basil the Great, bishop of Caesarea was one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church. He lived c. 329 to January 1, 379. Theologians place Saint Basil after Saint Athanasius as a defender of the Church against the heresies of the fourth century (the most destructive of the faith was the Arian heresy).

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (c. 325-389) was also from Cappadocia and a friend of Basil, followed the monastic way of life for some years. Eventually the Church called Nazianzus to be a priest and later bishop of Constantinople (in 381). Saint Gregory was given the title "The Theologian" because of his learning and oratory.

Many icons of Saints Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil include Nazianzus' brother Saint Gregory of Nyssa. The group is known as "The Three Cappadocians." Some make the claim that Basil outshines Nazianzus and Nyssa in practical genius and actual achievement. BTW, the icon presented here does not include Nyssan but Saint John Chrysostom.

The liturgical prayer for today's memorial may be found here.

Saint Basil the Great writes on life's journey:

We read in the Book of Psalms: 'Blessed is the one who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor follows in the way of sinners.' Life has been called a 'way' because everything that has been created is on the way to its end. When people are on a sea voyage, they can sleep while they are being transported without any effort of their own to their port of call. The ship brings them closer to their goal without their even knowing it. So we can be transported nearer to the end of our life without our noticing it, as time flows by unceasingly. Time passes while you are asleep. While you are awake time passes although you may not notice.

All of us have a race to run towards our appointed end. So we are all 'on the way'. This is how you should think of the 'way'. You are a traveller in this life. Everything goes past you and is left behind. You notice a flower on the way, or some grass, or a stream, or something worth looking at. You enjoy it for a moment, then pass on. Maybe you come on stones or rocks or crags or cliffs or fences, or perhaps you meet wild beasts or reptiles or thorn bushes or some other obstacles. You suffer briefly then escape. That is what life is like.

Pleasures do not last but pain is not permanent either.

The 'way' does not belong to you nor is the present under your control. But as step succeeds step, enjoy each moment as it comes and then continue on your 'way'.

Commentary on Psalm 1, 4 (PG 29, 220)

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Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



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This page contains a single entry by Paul Zalonski published on January 2, 2010 7:28 AM.

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God in Man is manifest (Epiphaniam Domino) is the next entry in this blog.

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