FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
Η ΚΑΤΑ ΣΑΡΚΑ ΠΕΡΙΤΟΜΗ ΤΟΥ ΚΥΡΙΟΥ ΗΜΩΝ ΙΗΣΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ καί μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Βασιλείου τοῦ Μεγάλου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Καισαρείας τῆς Καππαδοκίας.
Τῆς Ἁγίας Ἐμμελείας, μητρός τοῦ Μ. Βασιλείου.
Circumcision of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia
Gregory, Bishop of Nanzianzos, Father of Gregory the Theologian
Peter the New Martyr of the Peloponnesos
Theodotos the Martyr
Righteous Theodosios of Triglia
Emmelia, Mother of Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Makrina, and Peter of Sebaste
Telemachos the Martyr
Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe
Basil the Martyr of Ankyra
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from John 20:1-10
At that time, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him." Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first; and stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; he saw the linen cloths lying, and the napkin, which had been on his head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 20.1-10
Τῇ δὲ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων Μαρία ἡ Μαγδαληνὴ ἔρχεται πρωῒ σκοτίας ἔτι οὔσης εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ βλέπει τὸν λίθον ἠρμένον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου. τρέχει οὖν καὶ ἔρχεται πρὸς Σίμωνα Πέτρον καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄλλον μαθητὴν ὃν ἐφίλει ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς, καὶ λέγει αὐτοῖς· ἦραν τὸν Κύριον ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου, καὶ οὐκ οἴδαμεν ποῦ ἔθηκαν αὐτόν. ἐξῆλθεν οὖν ὁ Πέτρος καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς καὶ ἤρχοντο εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον. ἔτρεχον δὲ οἱ δύο ὁμοῦ· καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς προέδραμε τάχιον τοῦ Πέτρου καὶ ἦλθε πρῶτος εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ παρακύψας βλέπει κείμενα τὰ ὀθόνια, οὐ μέντοι εἰσῆλθεν. ἔρχεται οὖν Σίμων Πέτρος ἀκολουθῶν αὐτῷ, καὶ εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον καὶ θεωρεῖ τὰ ὀθόνια κείμενα, καὶ τὸ σουδάριον, ὃ ἦν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ, οὐ μετὰ τῶν ὀθονίων κείμενον, ἀλλὰ χωρὶς ἐντετυλιγμένον εἰς ἕνα τόπον. τότε οὖν εἰσῆλθε καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς ὁ ἐλθὼν πρῶτος εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ εἶδε καὶ ἐπίστευσεν· οὐδέπω γὰρ ᾔδεισαν τὴν γραφὴν ὅτι δεῖ αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῆναι. ἀπῆλθον οὖν πάλιν πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς οἱ μαθηταί.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians 2:8-12
BRETHREN, see to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Πρὸς Κολοσσαεῖς 2:8-12
Ἀδελφοί, βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς ἔσται ὁ συλαγωγῶν διὰ τῆς φιλοσοφίας καὶ κενῆς ἀπάτης, κατὰ τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν ἀνθρώπων, κατὰ τὰ στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου, καὶ οὐ κατὰ χριστόν· ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς, καί ἐστε ἐν αὐτῷ πεπληρωμένοι, ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλὴ πάσης ἀρχῆς καὶ ἐξουσίας· ἐν ᾧ καὶ περιετμήθητε περιτομῇ ἀχειροποιήτῳ, ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει τοῦ σώματος τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν τῆς σαρκός, ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ χριστοῦ, συνταφέντες αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι, ἐν ᾧ καὶ συνηγέρθητε διὰ τῆς πίστεως τῆς ἐνεργείας τοῦ θεοῦ, τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν.
The Reading is from Luke 2:20-21, 40-52
At that time, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days, they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously." And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 2.20-21, 40-52
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ὑπέστρεψαν οἱ ποιμένες δοξάζοντες καὶ αἰνοῦντες τὸν Θεὸν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἤκουσαν καὶ εἶδον καθὼς ἐλαλήθη πρὸς αὐτούς. Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ τοῦ περιτεμεῖν τὸ παιδίον, καὶ ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦς, τὸ κληθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγγέλου πρὸ τοῦ συλληφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ. Τὸ δὲ παιδίον ηὔξανε καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο πνεύματι πληρούμενον σοφίας, καὶ χάρις Θεοῦ ἦν ἐπ᾿ αὐτό. Καὶ ἐπορεύοντο οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ κατ᾿ ἔτος εἰς ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ τῇ ἑορτῇ τοῦ πάσχα.καὶ ὅτε ἐγένετο ἐτῶν δώδεκα, ἀναβάντων αὐτῶν εἰς ῾Ιεροσόλυμα κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἑορτῆςκαὶ τελειωσάντων τὰς ἡμέρας, ἐν τῷ ὑποστρέφειν αὐτοὺς ὑπέμεινεν ᾿Ιησοῦς ὁ παῖς ἐν ῾Ιερουσαλήμ, καὶ οὐκ ἔγνω ᾿Ιωσὴφ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ.νομίσαντες δὲ αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ συνοδίᾳ εἶναι ἦλθον ἡμέρας ὁδὸν καὶ ἀνεζήτουν αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς συγγενέσι καὶ ἐν τοῖς γνωστοῖς·καὶ μὴ εὑρόντες αὐτὸν ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ ζητοῦντες αὐτόν.καὶ ἐγένετο μεθ᾿ ἡμέρας τρεῖς εὗρον αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ καθεζόμενον ἐν μέσῳ τῶν διδασκάλων καὶ ἀκούοντα αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπερωτῶντα αὐτούς·ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες οἱ ἀκούοντες αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τῇ συνέσει καὶ ταῖς ἀποκρίσεσιν αὐτοῦ.καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν ἐξεπλάγησαν, καὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ εἶπε· τέκνον, τί ἐποίησας ἡμῖν οὕτως; ἰδοὺ ὁ πατήρ σου κἀγὼ ὀδυνώμενοι ἐζητοῦμέν σε.καὶ εἶπε πρὸς αὐτούς· τί ὅτι ἐζητεῖτέ με; οὐκ ᾔδειτε ὅτι ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου δεῖ εἶναί με;καὶ αὐτοὶ οὐ συνῆκαν τὸ ῥῆμα ὃ ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς.καὶ κατέβη μετ᾿ αὐτῶν καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς Ναζαρέτ, καὶ ἦν ὑποτασσόμενος αὐτοῖς. καὶ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ διετήρει πάντα τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς.Καὶ ᾿Ιησοῦς προέκοπτε σοφίᾳ καὶ ἡλικίᾳ καὶ χάριτι παρὰ Θεῷ καὶ ἀνθρώποις.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ Α' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνὸς ἑορτάζομεν τὴν κατὰ σάρκα Περιτομὴν τοῦ Κυρίου καὶ Θεοῦ καὶ Σωτῆρος ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
Χριστοῦ περιτμηθέντος, ἐτμήθη Νόμος.
Καὶ τοῦ Νόμου τμηθέντος, εἰσήχθη Χάρις.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Βασιλείου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Καισαρείας Καππαδοκίας τοῦ Μεγάλου.
Ζῇ Βασίλειος, καὶ θανὼν ἐν Κυρίῳ.
Ζῇ καὶ παρ᾽ ἡμῖν, ὡς λαλῶν ἐκ τῶν βίβλων,
Ἰανουαρίοιο θάνες, Βασίλειε, πρώτῃ.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Μάρτυς Θεόδοτος ξίφει τελειούται.
Ὁ Θεόδοτος, Οὐκ ἀνέξομαι, λέγει,
Εἰ μὴ κεφαλὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ τμηθῶ χάριν.
Τῇ αὐτῇ ἡμέρᾳ, ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος, ὁ Πατὴρ τοῦ Ἁγίου Γρηγορίου τοῦ Θεολόγου, ἐν εἰρήνῃ τελειούται.
Ἐγκωμιαστὴν οἴκοθεν πλουτεῖς, Πάτερ,
Τῆς σῆς τελευτῆς, σοῦ ἐκ μηροῦ γόνον.
Ταῖς αὐτῶν ἁγίαις πρεσβείαις, ὁ Θεὸς ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.
Since the Mosaic Law commands that if a woman give birth to a male child, he should be circumcised in the foreskin of his flesh on the eighth day (Lev. 12:2-3), on this, the eighth day from His Nativity, our Saviour accepted the circumcision commanded by the Law. According to the command of the Angel, He received the Name which is above every name: JESUS, which means "Saviour" (Matt. 1:21; Luke 1:31 and 2:21).
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Μορφήν αναλλοιώτως ανθρωπίνην προσέλαβες, Θεός ών κατ' ουσίαν, πολυεύσπλαγχνε Κύριε, καί Νόμον εκπληρών, περιτομήν, θελήσει καταδέχη σαρκικήν, όπως παύσης τά σκιώδη, καί περιέλης τό κάλυμμα τών παθών ημών, Δόξα τή αγαθότητι τή σή, δόξα τή ευσπλαγχνία σου, δόξα τή ανεκφράστω Λόγε συγκαταβάσει σου.
Our human form hast Thou taken on Thyself without change, O greatly-compassionate Master, though being God by nature; fulfilling the Law, Thou willingly receivest circumcision in the flesh, that Thou mightest end the shadow and roll away the veil of our sinful passions. Glory be to Thy goodness unto us. Glory be to Thy compassion. Glory, O Word, to Thine inexpressible condescension.
Kontakion in the Third Tone
Ο τών όλων Κύριος, πειριτομήν υπομένει, καί βροτών τά πταίσματα, ως αγαθός περιτέμνει, δίδωσι, τήν σωτηρίαν σήμερον κόσμω, χαίρει δέ, εν τοίς υψίστοις κάι ο τού Κτίστου, Ιεράρχης καί φωσφόρος, ο θείος μύστης Χριστού Βασίλειος.
Now the Lord of all that is doth undergo circumcision, in His goodness cutting off the sins and failings of mortals. He this day doth give salvation unto the whole world; and the hierarch and bright daystar of the Creator now rejoiceth in the highest, Basil the wise and divine initiate of Christ.
Saint Basil the Great was born about the end of the year 329 in Caesarea of Cappadocia, to a family renowned for their learning and holiness. His parents' names were Basil and Emily. His mother Emily (commemorated July 19) and his grandmother Macrina (Jan. 14) are Saints of the Church, together with all his brothers and sisters: Macrina, his elder sister (July 19), Gregory of Nyssa (Jan. to), Peter of Sebastia (Jan. 9), and Naucratius. Basil studied in Constantnople under the sophist Libanius, then in Athens, where also he formed a friendship with the young Gregory, a fellow Cappadocian, later called "the Theologian." Through the good influence of his sister Macrina (see July 19), he chose to embrace the ascetical life, abandoning his worldly career. He visited the monks in Egypt, in Palestine, in Syria, and in Mesopotamia, and upon returning to Caesarea, he departed to a hermitage on the Iris River in Pontus, not far from Annesi, where his mother and his sister Macrina were already treading the path of the ascetical life; here he also wrote his ascetical homilies.
About the year 370, when the bishop of his country reposed, he was elected to succeed to his throne and was entrusted with the Church of Christ, which he tended for eight years, living in voluntary poverty and strict asceticism, having no other care than to defend holy Orthodoxy as a worthy successor of the Apostles. The Emperor Valens, and Modestus, the Eparch of the East, who were of one mind with the Arians, tried with threats of exile and of torments to bend the Saint to their own confession, because he was the bastion of Orthodoxy in all Cappadocia, and preserved it from heresy when Arianism was at its strongest. But he set all their malice at nought, and in his willingness to give himself up to every suffering for the sake of the Faith, showed himself to be a martyr by volition. Modestus, amazed at Basil's fearlessness in his presence, said that no one had ever so spoken to him. "Perhaps," answered the Saint, "you have never met a bishop before." The Emperor Valens himself was almost won over by Basil's dignity and wisdom. When Valens' son fell gravely sick, he asked Saint Basil to pray for him. The Saint promised that his son would be restated if Valens agreed to have him baptized by the Orthodox; Valens agreed, Basil prayed, and the son was restored. But afterwards the Emperor had him baptized by Arians, and the child died soon after. Later, Valens, persuaded by his counsellors, decided to send the Saint into exile because he would not accept the Arians into communion; but his pen broke when he was signing the edict of banishment. He tried a second time and a third, but the same thing happened, so that the Emperor was filled with dread, and tore up the document, and Basil was not banished. The truly great Basil, spent with extreme ascetical practices and continual labours, at the helm of the church, departed to the Lord on the 1st of January, in 379. at the age of forty-nine.
His writings are replete with wisdom and erudition, and rich are these gifts he set forth the doctrines concerning the mysteries both of the creation (see his Hexaemeron) and of the Holy Trinity (see On the Holy Spirit). Because of the majesty and keenness of his eloquence, he is honoured as "the revealer of heavenly things" and "the Great."
Saint Basil is also celebrated on January 30th with Saint Gregory the Theologian and Saint John Chrysostom.
Rest from labour.
Apolytikion in the First Tone
Εἰς πᾶσαν τὴν γὴν ἐξῆλθεν ὁ φθόγγος σου, ὡς δεξαμένην τὸν λόγον σου, δι' οὗ θεοπρεπῶς ἐδογμάτισας, τὴν φύσιν τῶν ὄντων ἐτράνωσας, τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἤθη κατεκόσμησας, Βασίλειον Ἱεράτευμα, Πάτερ Ὅσιε, Χριστὸν τὸν Θεὸν ἱκέτευε, δωρήσασθαι ἡμῖν τὸ μέγα ἔλεος.
Thy sound hath gone forth into all the earth, which hath received thy word. Thereby thou hast divinely taught the Faith; thou hast made manifest the nature of all things that be; thou hast adorned the ways of man. O namesake of the royal priesthood, our righteous Father Basil, intercede with Christ God that our souls be saved.
Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Ὤφθης βάσις ἄσειστος τὴ Ἐκκλησία, νέμων πάσιν ἄσυλον, τὴν κυριότητα βροτοίς, ἐπισφραγίζων σοὶς δόγμασιν, Οὐρανοφάντορ Βασίλειε Ὅσιε.
For the Church art thou in truth a firm foundation, granting an inviolate lordship unto all mortal men and sealing it with what thou hast taught, O righteous Basil, revealer of heavenly things.
Ὁ Ἑλληνισμός - ὡς τρόπος σκέψης καὶ ὡς γλῶσσα - μπολιάστηκε στὸν Χριστιανισμὸ καὶ ἐπέζησε. Ἀλλιῶς ἴσως θὰ ἀπέθνησκε, ὅπως ἀπέθαναν καὶ ἄλλοι ἀρχαῖοι πολιτισμοί. Πῶς καὶ γιατί ἔγινε ἔτσι δὲν τὸ ἐξετάζουμε τώρα εἶναι πάντως ἔργο τῆς Θείας Προνοίας. Μποροῦμε ὅμως στὸ ζήτημα τοῦτο νὰ ἐξετάσουμε τὴν συμβολὴ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ποὺ τὸ ἔργο τοὺς εἶναι σὰν μία γέφυρα ἀνάμεσα στὸν ἀρχαῖο καὶ τὸ νεώτερο κόσμο. Μία τέτοια γέφυρα εἶναι τὸ ἔργο τοῦ Μεγάλου Βασιλείου, τοῦ ὁποίου σήμερα ἡ Ἐκκλησία τιμᾷ τὴν μνήμη. Ὁ Μέγας Βασίλειος εἶναι ὁ ἐκκλησιαστικὸς ποιμένας καὶ ὁ Οἰκουμενικὸς Διδάσκαλος, ποὺ στὸν βίο του καὶ στὸ ἔργο του συνδυάζει τὴν μεγάλη πίστη μὲ τὴν βαθεία γνώση, τὴν εὐσέβεια καὶ τὴν ἑλληνομάθεια. Εἶναι ὁ θεωρητικὸς νοῦς καὶ συγχρόνως ὁ πρακτικὸς ἄνθρωπος, ὁ σοφὸς καὶ ὁ ἅγιος, ὁ Μέγας. «Παιδείας γεγονὼς ἁπάσης ἔμπλεος» καὶ «ἄριστος ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔργοις αὐτοῦ» ὁ Μέγας Βασίλειος.
Ἡ Περιτομὴ τοῦ Χριστοῦ
Ὁ Μωσαϊκὸς νόμος διέταζε τὴν περιτομὴ τῶν ἀρσενικῶν παιδιῶν (Ἐξοδ. ΙΒ´ 43-49), (Γεν. ΙΖ´ 9-19), ἡ ὁποία γινόταν κατὰ τὴν ὀγδόη ἡμέρα ἀπὸ αὐτὴ τῆς γεννήσεως τοῦ παιδιοῦ (Λευϊτ. ΙΓ´ 3). Ἡ τελετὴ αὐτὴ ἐλάμβανε χώρα μέσα σὲ κτίριο τῆς Συναγωγῆς, τὸ πρωί, παρουσία δέκα τουλάχιστον προσώπων.Ἔτσι καὶ ἡ περιτομὴ τοῦ βρέφους Ἰησοῦ ἔγινε στὴ Συναγωγὴ τῆς Βηθλεέμ. Ἡ χειροποίητος αὐτὴ περιτομὴ στὸ σῶμα ἦταν τύπος, ποὺ συμβόλιζε τὴν περιτομὴ τῆς καρδιᾶς, ἐνεργούμενης ἀπ᾿ εὐθείας ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ (Δευτ. Γ´ 16, Λ´ 6). Γιὰ τὴν δεύτερη αὐτὴ περιτομή, τὴν ἀχειροποίητο, ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος διδάσκει: «Περιετμήθητε περιτομῇ ἀχειροποιήτῳ ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδυθεῖ τοῦ σώματος τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν τῆς σαρκός, ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, συνταφέντες αὐτῷ ἐν τῷ βαπτίσματι» (Κολ. Β´ 11-12). Δηλαδή, λέει ὁ Ἀπόστολος Παῦλος, περιτμηθήκατε καὶ μὲ περιτομὴ πνευματική, ποὺ ἐνεργεῖται ἀπ᾿ τὸ Ἅγιο Πνεῦμα. Καὶ συνίσταται στὸ γδύσιμο καὶ τὴν ἀποβολὴ τοῦ σώματος, ποὺ δούλεψε στὶς ἁμαρτίες τῆς σάρκας. Τὸ γδύσιμο δὲ αὐτὸ εἶναι ἡ περιτομή, ποὺ πήρατε ἀπὸ τὸν Χριστό, ὅταν θαφτήκατε μαζί Του, διὰ τοῦ Ἅγιου Βαπτίσματος. Τὸ Βρέφος ὅμως τῆς φάτνης, ἀφοῦ γεννήθηκε μὲ τὸν Παλαιὸ Νόμο, ἔπρεπε νὰ ὑποβληθεῖ καὶ Αὐτὸ στὸν τύπο, ὁ ὁποῖος εἶχε δικαίωμα νὰ ἰσχύει μέχρι τῆς καταργήσεώς του.
Ὁ Μέγας Βασίλειος
«... τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων ἤθη κατεκόσμησας». - Μὲ τὴν φράση αὐτή, τὸ ἀπολυτίκιο, ἀπόλυτα ἐπιτυχημένα, τονίζει τὴν κοινωνικὴ προσφορὰ τοῦ Ἅγιου Βασιλείου, ποὺ μὲ τὴν θεία διδασκαλία του στόλισε μὲ ἀρετὲς τὰ ἤθη καὶ τὴ ζωὴ τῶν ἀνθρώπων. Ὁ Μέγας αὐτὸς πατέρας καὶ διδάσκαλος τῆς Ὀρθόδοξης Ἐκκλησίας γεννήθηκε τὸ 329, κατ᾿ ἄλλους τὸ 330 μ.Χ., στὴ Νεοκαισάρεια τοῦ Πόντου, σύμφωνα μὲ τὰ γραφόμενα τοῦ φίλου του, Ἁγίου Γρηγορίου τοῦ Θεολόγου. Τὰ δὲ ἐγκυκλοπαιδικὰ λεξικὰ ἀναφέρουν σὰν πατρίδα τοῦ Μ. Βασιλείου τὴν Καισάρεια τῆς Καππαδοκίας. Οἱ γονεῖς του Βασίλειος (καὶ αὐτός), ποὺ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Νεοκαισάρεια τοῦ Πόντου καὶ Ἐμμέλεια, ποὺ καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὴν Καππαδοκία, ἂν καὶ κατὰ κόσμον εὐγενεῖς καὶ πλούσιοι, εἶχαν συγχρόνως καὶ ἀκμαιότατο χριστιανικὸ φρόνημα. Αὐτοὶ μάλιστα ἔθεσαν καὶ τὶς πρῶτες -καθοριστικῆς σημασίας- πνευματικὲς βάσεις τοῦ Ἁγίου. Μὲ ἐφόδιο αὐτὴ τὴν χριστιανικὴ ἀνατροφή, ὁ Βασίλειος ἀρχίζει μία καταπληκτικὴ ἀνοδικὴ πνευματικὴ πορεία. Ἔχοντας τὰ χαρίσματα τῆς εὐστροφίας καὶ τῆς μνήμης, κατακτᾷ σχεδὸν ὅλες τὶς ἐπιστῆμες τῆς ἐποχῆς του. Καὶ τὸ σπουδαιότερο, κατακτᾷ τὴν θεία θεωρία τοῦ Εὐαγγελίου, ποὺ τὴν κάνει ἀμέσως πράξη μὲ τὴν αὐστηρὴ ἀσκητικὴ ζωή του. Ἂς ἀναφέρουμε ὅμως, περιληπτικά, τὴν πορεία τῶν δραστηριοτήτων του. Μετὰ τὶς πρῶτες του σπουδὲς στὴν Καισαρεία καὶ κατόπιν στὸ Βυζάντιο, ἐπισκέφθηκε, νεαρὸς ἀκόμα, τὴν Ἀθήνα, ὅπου ἐπὶ τέσσερα χρόνια συμπλήρωσε τὶς σπουδές του, σπουδάζοντας φιλοσοφία, ρητορική, γραμματική, ἀστρονομία καὶ ἰατρική, ἔχοντας συμφοιτητές του τὸν Γρηγόριο τὸν Ναζιανζηνὸ (τὸν θεολόγο) καὶ τὸν Ἰουλιανὸ τὸν Παραβάτη. Ἀπὸ τὴν Ἀθήνα ἐπέστρεψε στὴν Καισάρεια καὶ δίδασκε τὴν ρητορικὴ τέχνη. Ἀποφάσισε ὅμως, νὰ ἀκολουθήσει τὴν μοναχικὴ ζωὴ καὶ γι᾿ αὐτὸ πῆγε στὰ κέντρα τοῦ ἀσκητισμοῦ, γιὰ νὰ διδαχθεῖ τὰ τῆς μοναχικῆς πολιτείας στὴν Αἴγυπτο, Παλαιστίνη, Συρία καὶ Μεσοποταμία. Ὅταν ἐπέστρεψε, ἀποσύρθηκε σὲ μία Μονὴ τοῦ Πόντου, ἀφοῦ ἔγινε μοναχός, καὶ ἀσκήθηκε ἐκεῖ μὲ κάθε αὐστηρότητα γιὰ πέντε χρόνια (357-362). Ἤδη τέλεια καταρτισμένος στὴν Ὀρθόδοξη Πίστη, χειροτονήθηκε διάκονος καὶ πρεσβύτερος ἀπὸ τὸν ἐπίσκοπο Καισαρείας Εὐσέβιο. Ὁ ὑποδειγματικὸς τρόπος τῆς πνευματικῆς ἐργασίας του δὲν ἀργεῖ νὰ τὸν ἀνεβάσει στὸ θρόνο τῆς ἀρχιερωσύνης, διαδεχόμενος τὸν Εὐσέβιο στὴν ἐπισκοπὴ τῆς Καισαρείας (370). Μὲ σταθερότητα καὶ γενναῖο φρόνημα, ὡς ἀρχιερέας ἔκανε πολλοὺς ἀγῶνες γιὰ τὴν Ὀρθόδοξη Πίστη. Μὲ τοὺς ὀρθόδοξους λόγους ποὺ συνέγραψε, κατακεραύνωσε τὰ φρονήματα τῶν κακοδόξων. Στοὺς ἀγῶνες του κατὰ τοῦ Ἀρειανισμοῦ ἀναδείχτηκε ἀδαμάντινος, οὔτε κολακεῖες βασιλικὲς τοῦ Οὐάλεντα (364-378), ποὺ πῆγε αὐτοπροσώπως στὴν Καισάρεια γιὰ νὰ τὸν μετατρέψει στὸν Ἀρειανισμό, οὔτε οἱ ἀπειλὲς τοῦ Μοδέστου μπόρεσαν νὰ κάμψουν τὸ ὀρθόδοξο φρόνημα τοῦ Ἁγίου. Ὑπεράσπισε μὲ θάῤῥος τὴν Ὀρθοδοξία, καταπλήσσοντας τὸν βασιλιὰ καὶ τοὺς Ἀρειανούς. Ἀκόμα, ἀγωνίστηκε κατὰ τῆς ἠθικῆς σήψεως καὶ ἐπέφερε σοφὲς μεταῤῥυθμίσεις στὸ μοναχισμό. Ἡ δὲ ὑπόλοιπη ποιμαντορικὴ δράση του, ὑπῆρξε ἀπαράμιλλη, κτίζοντας τὴν περίφημη «Βασιλειάδα», συγκρότημα μὲ εὐαγῆ Ἱδρύματα, ὅπως πτωχοκομεῖο κ.ἄ., ὅπου βρῆκαν τροφὴ καὶ περίθαλψη χιλιάδες πάσχοντες κάθε ἡλικίας, γένους καὶ φυλῆς. Νὰ ἀναφέρουμε ἐπίσης ὅτι ὁ Μέγας Βασίλειος, ἐκτὸς τῶν ἄλλων ἔργων του, ἔγραψε καὶ Θεία Λειτουργία, πού, μετὰ τὴν ἐπικράτηση αὐτῆς τῆς συντομότερης τοῦ Ἁγίου Ἰωάννου τοῦ Χρυσοστόμου, τελεῖται 10 φορὲς τὸ χρόνο: τὴν 1η Ἰανουαρίου (ὅπου γιορτάζεται καὶ ἡ μνήμη του), τὶς πρῶτες πέντε Κυριακὲς τῆς Μεγάλης Τεσσαρακοστῆς, τὶς παραμονὲς τῶν Χριστουγέννων καὶ τῶν Θεοφανείων, τὴν Μ. Πέμπτη καὶ τὸ Μ. Σάββατο. Στὰ πενήντα του χρόνια ὁ Μέγας Βασίλειος, ἐξαιτίας τῆς ἀσθενικῆς κράσεώς του καὶ τῆς αὐστηρῆς ἀσκητικῆς ζωῆς του (ὁρισμένες πηγὲς λένε ἀπὸ βαριὰ ἀῤῥώστια τοῦ ἥπατος ἢ τῶν νεφρῶν), τὴν 1η Ἰανουαρίου τοῦ 378 ἢ κατ᾿ ἄλλους τὸ 379 μὲ 380, ἐγκαταλείπει τὸ φθαρτὸ καὶ μάταιο αὐτὸ κόσμο, ἀφήνοντας παρακαταθήκη καὶ Ἱερὴ κληρονομιὰ στὴν ἀνθρωπότητα ἕνα τεράστιο πνευματικὸ ἔργο.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Θεόδοτος
Μαρτύρησε διὰ ξίφους.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Γρηγόριος Ἐπίσκοπος Ναζιανζοῦ πατέρας τοῦ Ἁγίου Γρηγορίου θεολόγου
Ἡ Ναζιανζὸς τῆς Καππαδοκίας λεγόταν παλιότερα Διοκαισάρεια, καὶ ὁ ἐπίσκοπος Ναζιανζοῦ Γρηγόριος, πατέρας Γρηγορίου τοῦ Θεολόγου, ἦταν ἀπὸ ἕνα τῶν κοντινῶν χωριῶν, τὴν Ἀριανζό. Πρὶν μπεῖ στὸν κλῆρο, ἦταν ἀνώτερος δημόσιος ὑπάλληλος, καὶ σὲ θέση, ποὺ μποροῦσε νὰ χρηματίζεται, ὅπως κατὰ κανόνα ἔκαναν καὶ οἱ συνάδελφοί του. Ἡ τιμιότητά του ὅμως δὲν τὸν ἄφησε νὰ κάνει ἄνομο κέρδος οὔτε μία δραχμή. Στὴν ἀρχὴ ὁ Γρηγόριος ἀνῆκε σὲ μία θρησκευτικὴ αἵρεση, ποὺ οἱ ὀπαδοὶ της ὀνομάζονταν Ὑψιστάριοι. Στὴν ὀρθόδοξη χριστιανικὴ πίστη τὸν ὁδήγησε ἡ εὐσεβέστατη καὶ μορφωμένη σύζυγός του, Νόννα. Τότε ὁ Γρηγόριος ἦταν πολὺ νέος. Βαπτίστηκε τὸ 325, ἀναδείχτηκε ἐπίσκοπος Ναζιανζοῦ τὸ 328 καὶ ἐπισκόπευσε γιὰ 45 χρόνια. Κατὰ τὴν ἐπισκοπική του σταδιοδρομία, ἔζησε μὲ τρόπο ἄξιο γιὰ νὰ τὸν ἁγιοποιήσει. Καὶ τὸ ἄξιζε καὶ μόνο μὲ τὸ γεγονὸς ὅτι ἀπ᾿ αὐτὸν καὶ τὴν σύζυγό του Νόννα, ἁγία κι αὐτή, προῆλθαν δυὸ γιοί, ὁ Γρηγόριος ὁ Θεολόγος καὶ ὁ Καισάριος ὁ ἰατρός, ἀνακηρυγμένοι ἅγιοι, καὶ μία κόρη, ἡ Γοργονία, ἁγία καὶ αὐτή. Ὁ Γρηγόριος παρέδωσε εἰρηνικὰ καὶ μὲ ἁγιότητα τὴν ψυχή του στὸν Θεό.
The Circumcision of Our Lord Jesus Christ
In keeping with the Law of Moses, the Savior's parents had Him circumcised eight days after His birth (see Luke ch. 2). On this day, following Jewish custom, he received the name Jesus (Yeshua, a form of Joshua), meaning "God saves." Thus, on this day, the Covenant of Moses was fulfilled and brought to an end, and the Salvation of God's people was proclaimed to the world.
Our Father among the Saints Basil the Great (379).
In its services, the Church calls St Basil a "bee of the Church of Christ": bringing the honey of divinely-inspired wisdom to the faithful, stinging the uprisings of heresy. He was born in Cappadocia to a wealthy and prominent family. Their worldly wealth, however, is as nothing compared to the wealth of Saints that they have given to the Church: his parents St Basil the Elder and St Emmelia; his sister St Macrina (July 19), the spiritual head of the family; and his brothers St Gregory of Nyssa (January 10), and St Peter, future bishop of Sebaste (January 9).
Inspired and tutored by his father, a renowned professor of rhetoric, the brilliant Basil set out to master the secular learning and arts of his day, traveling to Athens, where he studied alongside his life-long friend St Gregory of Nazianzus. When he returned from his studies in 356, he found that his mother and his sister Macrina had turned the family home into a convent, and that his brothers had also taken up the monastic life nearby. Puffed up by his secular accomplishments, he at first resisted his sister's pleas to take up a life devoted to God, but at last, through her prayers and admonition, entered upon the ascetical life.
After traveling among the monks of Egypt, Palestine and Syria, he settled in Cappadocia as a hermit, living in utter poverty and writing his ascetical homilies. A monastic community steadily gathered around him, and for its good order St Basil wrote his Rule, which is regarded as the charter of monasticism. (St Benedict in the West was familiar with this Rule, and his own is modeled on it.)
In about 370 he was consecrated Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Even as bishop, he continued to live without any possessions save a worn garment to cover himself. At this time the Arian heresy was rending the Church, and it became St Basil's lot to defend Orthodoxy in Sermons and writings, a task which he fulfilled with such erudition and wisdom that he is called "Basil the Great." He reposed in peace in 379, at the age of forty-nine.
St Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus (374), father of St Gregory the Theologian
He converted to Christianity from paganism as an adult through the influence of his pious wife St Nonna (Aug. 5). He was made Bishop of Nazianzus in Cappadocia in 329, and served faithfully for forty-five years, defending his flock against the inroads of Arianism and the persecutions of Julian the Apostate. Late in life, he ordained his son Gregory, later known as St Gregory the Theologian (Jan. 25) to assist him. He reposed in peace, aged almost 100.
St Emilia (375), mother of Sts Macrina, Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, and Theosevia
Her main commemoration is on May 8.
The Circumcision (Obrezanie) of the Lord: On the eighth day after His Nativity, our Lord Jesus Christ -- in accordance with the Old Testament Law, accepted circumcision, which was decreed for all infants of the male gender as a sign of the Covenant of God with the Forefather Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 17: 10-14, Lev. 12: 3). Upon the performing of this ritual the Divine Infant was given the name Jesus, which had been announced by the Archangel Gabriel on the day of the Annunciation (Blagoveschenie) to the MostHoly Virgin Mary (Lk. 1: 31-33, 2: 21). According to the explanation of the fathers of the Church the Lord, the Creator of the Law, accepted circumcision, giving example for people how faithfully the Divine ordinances ought to be fulfilled. The Lord accepted circumcision for this reason -- so that later on no one should be in doubt that He was truly Man, rather than merely being the bearer of illusion-seeming flesh as certain heretics (Docetism) happened to teach. In the New Testament (Covenant) the ritual of circumcision gave way to the sacrament of Baptism, which it pre-figured (Col. 2: 11-12). Accounts about the feastday of the Circumcision of the Lord in the Eastern Church continue right up through the IV Century. The Canon of the feast was written by the Monk Stephen Savvaites (Comm. 28 October and 13 July). Together with the Circumcision, accepted by the Lord as a sign of the Covenant of God with mankind, He received also the Name Jesus (Saviour) as the seal of His service -- the deed of the Salvation of the world (Mt. 1: 21; Mk. 9: 38-39, 16: 17; Lk. 10: 17; Acts 3: 6, 16; Phil. 2: 9-10). These two events, the Circumcision and Naming, remind Christians that they have entered into a New Covenant (Testament) with God and "are circumcised with a circumcision not done by hand, in putting off the sinful body of the flesh, by the Circumcision of Christ" (Col. 2: 11). The very name "Christian" witnesses to an entrance of mankind into a New Covenant with God.
Sainted Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea Cappadocia, "belongs not to the Church of Caesarea alone, nor merely to his own time, nor to his own kinsmen was he merely of benefit, but rather to all lands and cities worldwide, and to all people he brought and yet brings benefit, and for Christians he always was and will be a teacher most salvific", -- thus spoke the contemporary of Saint Basil, -- Sainted Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium (+ 344, Comm. 23 November).
Saint Basil was born in about the year 330 at Caesarea, the administrative centre of Cappadocia. He was of illustrious lineage, famed for its eminence and wealth, and giftedly zealous for the Christian faith. The grandfather and grandmother of the saint on his father's side, during the time of persecution under Diocletian, had to hide themselves away in the forests of Pontum for a space of seven years. The mother of Saint Basil -- Saint Emilia (Emily), was the daughter of a martyr. The father of Saint Basil was also named Basil: he was a lawyer and reknown rhetorician and lived constantly at Caesarea.
Into the family of this elder Basil ten children were born -- five sons and five daughters. Of these, five were later enumerated to the ranks of the Saints: Basil the Great; Macrina (Comm. 19 July) -- was an exemplar of ascetic life, and exerted strong influence on the life and character of Saint Basil the Great; Gregory, afterwards Bishop of Nyssa (Comm. 10 January); Peter, Bishop of Sebasteia (Comm. 9 January); and Righteous Theozua -- a deaconess (Comm. 10 January). Saint Basil spent the first years of his life on an estate belonging to his parents at the River Irisa, where he was raised under the supervision of his mother Emilia and grandmother Macrina. They were women of great refinement, preserving in memory the tradition of an earlier sainted-hierarch of Cappadocia -- Sainted Gregory Thaumatougos (Wonderworker) (+ c. 266-270, Comm. 17 November). Basil received his initial education under the supervision of his father, and then he studied under the finest teachers in Caesarea Cappadocia, and it was here that he made the acquaintance of Sainted Gregory the Theologian (Bogoslov, i.e. title of Saint Gregory Nazianzus; Comm. 25 January and 30 January). Later on, Basil transferred to school at Constantinople, where he listened to eminent orators and philosophers. For the finishing touches to his education Saint Basil set off to Athens -- a centre of classical enlightenment.
After a four or five year stay at Athens, Basil the Great had mastered all the available disciplines: "He so thoroughly studied everything, more than others are wont to study a single subject, each science he studied to its very totality, as though he would study naught else". Philosopher, philologist, orator, jurist, naturalist, possessing profound knowledge in astronomy, mathematics and medicine, -- "this was a ship, loaded down full of learning, to the extent allowed of by human nature". At Athens a close friendship developed between Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzus), which continued throughout all their life. Later on, in an eulogy to Basil the Great, Saint Gregory the Theologian speaks with delight about this period: "Various hopes guided us and in deed inevitably -- in learning... Two paths opened up before us: the one -- to our sacred temples and the teachers therein; the other -- towards preceptors of disciplines beyond".
In about the year 357 Saint Basil returned to Caesarea, where for a certain while he devoted himself to rhetoric. But soon, refusing offers from Caesarea citizens wanting to entrust him with the education of their offspring, Saint Basil entered upon the path of ascetic life.
After the death of her husband, Basil's mother together with her eldest daughter Macrina and several maid-servants withdrew to the family estate at Irisa and there began to lead an ascetic life. Basil, however, having accepted Baptism from the bishop of Caesarea Dianios, was ordained a reader. As an expounder of the Sacred Scriptures, he at first read them to the people. Later on, "wanting to acquire a guide to the knowledge of truth", the saint undertook a journey into Egypt, Syria and Palestine, -- to the great Christian ascetics dwelling there. Upon returning to Cappadocia, he decided to do likewise. Having given his wealth to the needy, Saint Basil settled on the opposite side of the river not far from his mother Emilia and sister Macrina, gathering around him monks living in common community. Through his letters, Basil the great attracted to the wilderness monastery his good friend Gregory the Theologian. Saints Basil and Gregory asceticised amidst strict abstinence in their hovel, without roof and without fireplace, and the food was very humble. They themselves heaved the stones, planted and watered the trees, and carried heavy loads. Their hands were constantly calloused from the hard work. For clothing Basil the great had only chiton-tunic and monastic mantle; the hairshirt he wore only at night, so that it would not be obvious. In their solitude, Saints Basil and Gregory occupied themselves in an intense study of Holy Scripture with manuscript guidances from the most ancient commentators, and in parts Origen also, -- from all whose works they compiled an anthology -- a Philokalia (Dobrotoliubie). And also at this time at the request of the monks, Basil the Great wrote down a collection of rules for virtuous life. By his preachings and by his example Saint Basil the Great assisted in the spiritual perfecting of Christians in Cappadocia and Pontus; and many indeed turned to him. Monasteries were organised for men and for women, in which places Basil sought to unite the coenobitic (koine-bios or life in common) lifestyle with that of the solitary hermit.
During the reign of Constantius (337-361) the heretical false-teachings of Arius spread about, and the Church summoned both its saints into service. Saint Basil returned to Caesarea. In the year 362 he was ordained deacon by the bishop of Antioch, Meletios; later on, in 364 he was ordained to the dignity of priest by the bishop of Caesarea, Eusebios. "But seeing, -- as Gregory the Theologian relates, -- that everyone exceedingly praised and honoured Basil for his wisdom and reverence, Eusebios, through human weakness, succumbed to jealousy of him, and began to show dislike for him". The monks rose up in defense of saint Basil. To avoid causing Church discord, Basil withdrew to his own monastery and concerned himself with the organisation of monasteries. With the coming to power of the emperor Valens (364-378), who was a resolute adherent of Arianism, there began for Orthodoxy the onset of a time of troubles -- "the onset of the great struggle". Saint Basil then hastily returned to Caesarea at the call of bishop Eusebios. In the words of Gregory the Theologian, he was for bishop Eusebios "a good advisor, a righteous representative, an expounder of the Word of God, a staff for the aged, a faithful support in matters internal, and an activist in matter external". From this time church governance passed over to Basil, though he was subordinate to the hierarch. He preached daily, and often twice so -- in the morning and in the evening. And during this time Saint Basil compiled the order of his Liturgy; he wrote a work "Discourse on the Six Days" and another in 16 Chapters on the Prophet Isaiah, yet another on the Psalms, and also a second compilation of monastic rules. Saint Basil wrote also Three Books "Against Eunomios", an Arian teacher who with the help of Aristotelian concepts had presented the Arian dogmatics in learnedly philosophic form, converting the Christian teaching into a logical scheme of rationalist concepts.
Saint Gregory the Theologian, speaking about the activity of Basil the Great during this period, points to "the caring for the destitute and the taking in of strangers, the supervision of virgins, written and unwritten monastic rule for the monasticising, the arrangement of prayers (Liturgy), the felicitous arrangement of altars and other things". Upon the death of the bishop of Caesarea Eusebios, Saint Basil in the year 370 was elevated onto his cathedra-chair. As Bishop of Caesarea, Saint Basil the Great was the newest in rank of 50 bishops in eleven provinces. Sainted Athanasias the great (Comm. 2 May), with joy and with thanks to God welcomed the bestowing of Cappadocia with such a bishop as Basil, famed for his reverence, deep knowledge of Holy Scripture, great learning, and his efforts for the welfare of Church peace and unity. In the empire of Valens the external government belonged to the Arians, who held several various opinions on questions of the Divinity of the Son of God and hence were divided into several factions. And to these dogmatic disputes were connected questions about the Holy Spirit. In his books "Against Eunomios", Saint Basil the Great taught about the Divinity of the Holy Spirit and Its Oneness together with the Father and the Son. Subsequently, for a full explanation of the Orthodox teaching on this question, -- at the request of the Bishop of Iconium Saint Amphylokhios, Saint Basil wrote his book "About the Holy Spirit".
The generally sorry state of affairs for the Caesarea bishop was made even worse by various circumstances: Cappadocia was divided in two under the re-arrangement of governance of provincial districts. Then too at Antioch a schism occurred, occasioned by the ordination of a second bishop. There was the negative and haughty attitude of Western bishops to the attempts to draw them into the struggle with the Arians. And there was also the departure over to the Arian side by Eustathios of Sebasteia, with whom Basil had been connected by close friendship. Amidst the constant perils Saint Basil gave encouragement to the Orthodox, affirmed them in the faith, summoning them to bravery and endurance. The holy bishop wrote numerous letters to the Churches, to bishops, to clergy and to individuals. Overcoming the heretics "by the weapon of his mouth, and by the arrows of his letters", as an untiring champion of Orthodoxy, Saint Basil all his life gave challenge to the hostility and the every which way possible intrigues of the Arian heretics.
The emperor Valens, mercilessly dispatching into exile any bishops that displeased him, and having implanted Arianism into other Asia Minor provinces, suddenly appeared in Cappadocia for precisely this purpose. He sent off to Saint Basil the prefect Modestus, who began to threaten the saint with ruin, banishment, beatings and even death by execution. "All this, -- replied Basil, -- for me means nothing, since one cannot be deprived of possessions that one does not have, beyond some old worn-out clothing and some books, which comprises the entirety of my wealth. For me it would not be exile, since I am bound to no particular place, and this place in which I now dwell is not mine, and indeed any place whither I be cast shalt be mine. Better it is to say: everywhere is the place of God, whither be naught stranger nor new-comer (Ps. 38 : 13). And what tortures can ye do me? -- I am so weak, that merely but the very first blow will be felt. Death for me would be an act of kindness: it wilt bring me all the sooner to God, for Whom I live and do labour, and to Whom moreover I do strive". The official was bewildered by such an answer. "Perhaps, -- continued the saint, -- thou hast never had encounter with a bishop; otherwise, without doubt, thou wouldst have heard suchlike words. In all else we are meek, the most humble of all, and not only afront the mighty, but also afront all, since such is prescribed for us by the law. But when it is a matter concerning God and they make bold to rise up against Him, then we -- being mindful of naught else, think only of Him alone, and then fire, sword, wild beasts and chains, the rending of the body, would sooner hold satisfaction for us, than to be afraid".
Reporting to Valens on the not to be intimidated Saint Basil, Modestus said: "Emperor, we stand defeated by a leader of the Church". Basil the Great again showed firmness and in front of the very person of the emperor himself and his retinue produced such a strong impression on Valens, that the emperor dared not give in to the Arians demanding the exile of Basil. "On the day of Theophany, amidst an innumerable multitude of the people, Valens entered the church and mixed in amidst the throng, in order to give the appearance of being in unity with the Church. When began the singing of psalmody in the church, it was like thunder to his hearing. The emperor beheld a sea of people, and in the altar and all around was splendour; in front of all was Basil, acknowledging neither by gesture nor by glance, as though in church was occurred aught else, than that everything was intent only on God and the altar-table, and the clergy thereat in awe and reverence".
Saint Basil almost daily celebrated Divine-services. He was particularly concerned about the strict fulfilling of the canons of the Church, and kept attentive watch, so that only worthy individuals should enter into the clergy. He incessantly made the rounds of his own church, lest anywhere there be an infraction of Church discipline, and setting aright any unseemliness. At Caesarea Saint Basil built two monasteries, a men's and a women's, with a church in honour of 40 Martyrs whose relics were buried there. On the example of monks, the metropolitan clergy of the saint , -- even deacons and priests lived in remarkable poverty, to toil and lead lives chaste and virtuous. For his clergy Saint Basil got an exemption from taxes. All his personal wealth and the income-proceeds from his church he used for the benefit of the destitute; in every centre of his diocese he built a poor-house; at Caesarea -- an home for wanderers and the homeless.
Sickly since youth, the toil of teaching, efforts at abstinence, the concerns and sorrows of pastoral service early sapped the strength of the saint. Saint Basil died on 1 January 379 at age 49. Shortly before his death, the saint gave blessing to Saint Gregory the Theologian to enter upon the Constantinople cathedra-chair.
Upon the repose of Saint Basil, the Church immediately began to celebrate his memory. Saint Amphylokhios, Bishop of Iconium (+ 394), in his eulogy to Sainted Basil the Great, said: "It is neither without a reason nor by chance that holy Basil hath taken leave from the body and had repose from the world unto God on the day of the Circumcision of Jesus, celebrated betwixt the day of the Nativity and the day of the Baptism of Christ. Wherefore this most blessed one, preaching and praising the Nativity and Baptism of Christ, extolling spiritual circumcision, himself forsaking the flesh, doth ascend to Christ now especially on the sacred day of remembrance of the Circumcision of Christ. Therefore also let be established on this present day annually to honour the memory of Basil the Great festally and solemnly".
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. THE CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
The eighth day following His birth, the Divine Child was presented in the Temple and circumcised according to the Law existing in Israel since the time of Abraham. On this occasion, He was given the name Jesus, which the Archangel Gabriel announced to the All-Holy Virgin Mary. The Old Testament circumcision was the proto-type of the New Testament baptism. The circumcision of our Lord shows that He received upon Himself the true body of man and not just seemingly, as was later taught of Him by heretics. Our Lord was also circumcised because He wanted to fulfill the entire Law which He Himself gave through the prophets and forefathers. In fulfilling the written Law, He replaced it with Baptism in His Holy Church as was proclaimed by the Apostle Paul: "For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation" (Galatians 6:15). (In the cycle of the liturgical calendar of the Church, this Feast of the Lord's Circumcision has neither a Forefeast nor an Antefeast).
2. SAINT BASIL THE GREAT, ARCHBISHOP OF CAESAREA
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.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE CIRCUMCISION OF OUR LORD AND GOD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST
SAINT BASIL THE GREAT
You, Who, gave the Law to the world and to man,
You, the Law-giver, placed Yourself under the Law,
Others, you enjoined by impostition - Yourself, voluntarily.
That is why on the eighth day, in the flesh, You were circumcised.
In fulfilling the Law, with a new one You replaced it:
Circumcision of the flesh, was replaced with a spiritual one.
That impure passions we cut off from ourselves
And with a spirit pure, to gaze upon You.
That, with the spirit, the will of the body to cut and to constrict,
Your will, O Savior, by the spirit we fulfill it -
To this circumcision, the saints learned,
Their fiery example, to us, they left.
Wonderful Basil, to a glowing ray, similar,
To such circumcision, generations, he teaches.
To Basil, be glory, Your servant, great
Great, because of You, humble and constrained He became.
That is why he became great, and Great,
Why is it necessary to listen to the Church and not listen to one man who thinks against the Church, even though he might be called the greatest thinker? Because the Church was founded by the Lord Jesus Christ, and because the Church is guided under the inspiration of the Spirit of God. Because the Church represents the realm of the Holy, a grove of cultivated fruit trees. If one rises up against the realm of the Holy, it means that he is unholy and why then listen to him? "The Church is an enclosure," says the all-wise John Chrysostom. "If you are within, the wolf does not enter; but if you leave, the beasts will seize you. Do not distance yourself from the Church; there is nothing mightier that the Church. The Church is your hope. The Church is your salvation. The Church is higher than the heavens. The Church is harder than stone. The Church is wider than the world. The Church never grows old but always renews itself."
To contemplate the Circumcision of the Lord Jesus Christ:
1. His glory in the heavenly kingdom where Cherubims serve Him in fear and in trembling;
2. His lowliness and His humility in the ritual of circumcision intended for sinners;
3. To contemplate my heart: how much have I circumcised sinful thoughts, vices and passions from it.
About how we should depart from evil and do good
"Turn from evil, and do good" (Psalm 34:15)
With these words are expressed all our effort by which we should labor here on earth and in the earth, i.e., on this material earth and in this physical body. Therefore, of what then should our labor consist? To achieve two habits: First, to avoid evil and Second, to do good. Concerning that which is good and that which is evil, our conscience tells us incompletely and unclearly because our conscience is darkened by sin; but the teaching of Christ tells us completely and clearly that which is good and that which is evil.
Brethren, what does our Lord ask of us? He asks, that as our altars are always facing the east, so should our souls also be turned toward good. To leave evil behind us; to leave evil in the shadow; to leave evil in the abyss of oblivion; to leave evil in the darkness of the past, that we, from year to year, from day to day, extend ourselves toward good: to think about good; to yearn for good; to speak about good; to do good. The Lord is seeking builders and not destroyers. For whoever builds good, with that alone, he destroys evil. However, he who turns away from destroying evil, quickly forgets how to build good and is transformed into an evildoer.
The apostle of Christ teaches us, "Hate what is evil, hold on to what is good" (Romans 12:9). Hate evil but do not hate the man who commits evil for he is sick. If you can, heal the sick person but do not kill him with your hatred. Adhere to good and only good; for good is from God; for God is the treasury of all good.
O Good and All-good Lord, teach us to avoid evil and to do good for the sake of Your glory and for the sake of our salvation.