Friday, January 1, 2010

Commemoration of our Father among the saints, Basil the Great

On this, the first day of the civil year, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates one of its three eminent hierarchs, Basil the Great(the other two being Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom). This saint was not only a valiant confessor for the faith in times of upheaval in the church between the Orthodox who confessed correctly that the Son is of the same essence as the Father and is with Him both coeternal and coglorified and the Arians who believed that the Christ was a created being. This saint confessed this even in the presence of the Emperor Valens himself who was an Arian. Basil also authored a great number of theological treatises and is also credited with the anaphora in the Liturgy which bears his name. Through his intercessions, may Chirst our God save our souls!

From the Prologue of Ohrid: Basil was born during the reign of Emperor Constantine. While still unbaptized, Basil spent fifteen years in Athens where he studied philosophy, rhetoric, astronomy and all other secular sciences of that time. His colleagues at that time were Gregory the Theologian and Julian, later the apostate emperor. In his mature years he was baptized in the river Jordan along with Euvlios his former teacher. He was Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia for almost ten years and completed his earthly life fifty years after his birth. He was a great defender of Orthodoxy, a great light of moral purity, a religious zealot, a great theological mind, a great builder and pillar of the Church of God. Basil fully deserved the title "Great." In liturgical services, he is referred to as the "bee of the Church of Christ which brings honey to the faithful and with its stinger pricks the heretics." Numerous works of this Father of the Church are preserved; they include theological, apologetical, ascetical and canonical writings as well as the Holy and Divine Liturgy named after him. This Divine Liturgy is celebrated ten times throughout the year: the First of January, his feast day; on the eve of the Nativity of our Lord; on the eve of the Epiphany of our Lord; all Sundays of the Honorable Fast [Lenten Season], except Palm Sunday; on Great and Holy Thursday and on Great and Holy Saturday. St. Basil died peacefully on January 1, 379 A.D., and was translated into the Kingdom of Christ.

Troparion of St. Basil the Great (Tone 1): Thy fame has gone forth into all the earth, which has received thy word. Thereby thou hast taught the Faith; thou hast revealed the nature of created things; thou hast made a royal priesthood of the ordered life of men. Righteous Father Basil intercede with Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

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