Daily Reflection 22 September

Reflections – Our Church Fathers
St Basil the Great
From the tiny number of 11 disciples, a sect in Judiasm, Christianity grew rapidly and, despite persecution, had become almost exclusively gentile within 150 years. In 380s AD, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
While some argue that it was then that nominal Christianity began, as it was in your favour if you sought political advancement to declare yourself a Christian, it gave Christians an opportunity to shape the world, and led to a growth of understanding through the desert fathers, monastic institutions and the theological study by some remarkable people of faith.
St. Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia; three of them became bishops. He attended school in Caesarea, as well as Constantinople and Athens. He become a monk and found a monastery in Pontus which he directed for five years, and wrote a monastic rule which has proved the most lasting in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
In 370 he was made bishop of Caesaria, and remained in this post until his death in 379. He was a man of great learning, active, eloquent and charitable, one of the giants of the early Church. He fought simony, (the buying or selling of pardons), aided the victims of drought and famine, promoted Christian hospitality, strove to improve the calibre of clergy, and fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it. His support for the poor was renowned.
Basil was a profound thinker, and contributed much to Christian theology. His teachings included: putting on Christ to grow in likeness to God, be attentative to your soul, become a hater of evil, brother-loving and compassionate, and acknowledge that you were born to be an instrument of God. He was accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and, like Paul, one of the gifted orators of Christianity.
I had hoped to discover that Basildon is named after this great man, but it was first mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 as Berlesduna, of Saxon origin meaning Beorhtel’s Hill. We have a reminder of him, as the Catholic church in our town is named St Basil the Great. However, as this reflection is intended to encourage you to ponder, look again at the Creed we say in Church. Basil was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism (heresy that denied the divinity of Christ), and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381-82. The Nicene Creed, also called the Apostle’s Creed, came from there. There are some variations, but they all declare the Trinity, the essence of our faith. ‘We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen’
Reverend Shirley

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