Thought for the Day – 2 January – The Memorial of St Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nazianzen
“It often happens, that men of very dissimilar talents, tastes, are attracted together by their very dissimilitude …. Gregory the affectionate, the tender-hearted, the man of quick feelings, the accomplished, the eloquent preacher – and Basil, the man of firm resolve and hard deeds, the high-minded ruler of Christ’s flock, the diligent labourer in the field of ecclesiastical politics.
Thus they differed, yet not as if they had not much in common still – both had the blessing and the discomfort of a sensitive mind; both were devoted to an ascetic life; both were men of classical tastes’ both were special champions of the Catholic creed; both were skilled in argument and successful in their use of it; both were in highest place in the Church, the one Exarch of Caesarea, the other Patriarch of Constantinople.”…Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)Historial Sketches
“Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.”…St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390)(from his writings on his friendship with St Basil).
It may be small comfort, but post-Vatican II turmoil in the Church is a mild storm compared to the devastation caused by the Arian heresy, a trauma the Church has never forgotten. Christ did not promise the kind of peace we would love to have—no problems, no opposition, no pain.
In one way or another, holiness is always the way of the cross.
Quote/s of the Day – 2 January – The Memorial of St Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nazianzen
Two are better than one: they get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help…
“Let us raise ourselves from our fall and not give up hope, as long as we are free from sin. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. ‘Come, let us adore and prostrate ourselves and weep before him’ (Psalm 95:6). The Word calls us to repentance, crying out: ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened and I will refresh you’ (Matthew 11:28). There is, then, a way to salvation if we are willing to follow it” (from a letter by Saint Basil the Great)
“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost, he who sows courtesy, reaps friendship and he who plants kindness, gathers love.”
“The bread which you use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes you do NOT wear, are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the acts of charity that you do NOT perform, are so many INJUSTICES that you commit.”
“The hairsplitting difference between formed and unformed makes no difference to us. Whoever deliberately commits abortion is subject to the penalty for homicide.”
St Basil the Great (329-379) Father & Doctor of the Church
“Give something, however small, to the one in need. For it is not small to one who has nothing. Neither is it small to God, if we have given what we could.”
“If anyone does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God, such a one is a stranger to the Godhead.”
“Let us not esteem worldly prosperity, or adversity, as things real or of any moment but let us live elsewhere and raise all our attention to Heaven, esteeming sin as the only true evil and nothing truly good but virtue, which unites us to God.”
St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) Father & Doctor of the Church
One Minute Reflection – 2 January – Christmas Weekday Today’s Gospel: John 1:19–28
He said, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”…John 1:23
REFLECTION – “It is a voice which cries out where it seems that no one can hear it — for who can listen in the desert? — and which cries out in the disorientation caused by a crisis of faith. We cannot deny that the world today is in a crisis of faith. One says: “I believe in God, I am a Christian” — “I belong to this religion…”. But your life is far from being Christian – it is far removed from God! Religion, faith is but an expression: “Do I believe?” — “Yes!”. This means returning to God, converting the heart to God and going on this path to find Him. He is waiting for us. This is John the Baptist’s preaching: prepare. Prepare for the encounter with this Child who will give our smile back to us.”…Pope Francis – General Audience, 7 December 2016
PRAYER – Look with favour on our morning prayer, Lord and in Your saving love, let Your light penetrate the wilderness in our hearts. May no sordid desires darken our minds, renewed and enlightened as we are, by Your heavenly grace. God our Father, You enriched Your Church and gave examples for us to follow in the life and teachings of Sts Basil and Gregory. Grant that, learning Your truth with humility, we may practise it in faith and love. Sts Basil and Gregory, pray for our beloved Church, pray for all Catholic Christians, through Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit, God forever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 2 January – The Memorial of St Basil the Great and St Gregory of Nazianzen
O Christ, our Master and God By St Basil the Great (329-379)
O Christ, our Master and God,
King of the ages and Creator of all,
I thank You for all the good things
that You have given to me
and for the reception
of your most pure and life-giving mysteries.
I pray You, therefore,
O good Lover of humankind,
keep me under Your protection
in the shadow of Your wings.
Grant that with a pure conscience,
until my last breath,
I may worthily partake of Your Holy Things,
for the forgiveness of sins
and for life everlasting.
For You are the Bread of Life,
the Fountain of Holiness
and the Bestower of Blessings
and to You we give glory together
with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
now and for ever and ever, amen.
Saint/s of the Day – 2 January – St Basil the Great (329-379) and St Gregory of Nazianzen (330-390) Fathers and Doctors of the Church “Two Bodies one Spirit”
On 2 January, the Roman Catholic Church honours the memory of two friends from an area of what is now Turkey that was called Cappadocia. These men began their friendship while away at school and later became bishops who were the backbone of Catholic Orthodoxy during a period of doctrinal struggle and confusion. Gregory presided over the 2nd ecumenical council, held at Constantinople, whose great achievement was the completion of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that the Catholic Church recites each Sunday and the definition of the divinity of the Holy Spirit. These Cappadocian Fathers, both Doctors of the Church, proved to be some of the most influential Christian teachers of all time, honoured by both East and West, Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic.
Basil was on his way to becoming a famous teacher when he decided to begin a religious life of gospel poverty. After studying various modes of religious life, he founded what was probably the first monastery in Asia Minor. He is to monks of the East what Saint Benedict is to the West and Basil’s principles influence Eastern monasticism today.
He was ordained a priest, assisted the archbishop of Caesarea—now southeastern Turkey—and ultimately became archbishop himself, in spite of opposition from some of the bishops under him, probably because they foresaw coming reforms.
Arianism, one of the most damaging heresies in the history of the Church which denied the divinity of Christ, was at its height. Emperor Valens persecuted orthodox believers and put great pressure on Basil to remain silent and admit the heretics to communion. Basil remained firm, and Valens backed down. But trouble remained. When the great Saint Athanasius died, the mantle of defender of the faith against Arianism fell upon Basil. He strove mightily to unite and rally his fellow Catholics who were crushed by tyranny and torn by internal dissension. He was misunderstood, misrepresented, accused of heresy and ambition. Even appeals to the pope brought no response. “For my sins I seem to be unsuccessful in everything.”
Basil was tireless in pastoral care. He preached twice a day to huge crowds, built a hospital that was called a wonder of the world—as a youth he had organised famine relief and worked in a soup kitchen himself—and fought the prostitution business.
Basil was best known as an orator. Though not recognised greatly in his lifetime, his writings rightly place him among the great teachers of the Church. Seventy two years after his death, the Council of Chalcedon described him as “the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth.”
After his baptism at 30, Gregory gladly accepted his friend Basil’s invitation to join him in a newly founded monastery. The solitude was broken when Gregory’s father, a bishop, needed help in his diocese and estate. It seems that Gregory was ordained a priest practically by force and only reluctantly accepted the responsibility. He skilfully avoided a schism that threatened when his own father made compromises with Arianism. At 41, Gregory was chosen suffragan bishop of Caesarea and at once came into conflict with Valens, the emperor, who supported the Arians.
An unfortunate by-product of the battle was the cooling of the friendship of two saints. Basil, his archbishop, sent him to a miserable and unhealthy town on the border of unjustly created divisions in his diocese. Basil reproached Gregory for not going to his see.
When protection for Arianism ended with the death of Valens, Gregory was called to rebuild the faith in the great see of Constantinople, which had been under Arian teachers for three decades. Retiring and sensitive, he dreaded being drawn into the whirlpool of corruption and violence. He first stayed at a friend’s home, which became the only orthodox church in the city. In such surroundings, he began giving the great sermons on the Trinity for which he is famous. In time, Gregory did rebuild the faith in the city but at the cost of great suffering, slander, insults and even personal violence. An interloper even tried to take over his bishopric.
His last days were spent in solitude and austerity. He wrote religious poetry, some of it autobiographical, of great depth and beauty. He was acclaimed simply as “the Theologian.”
St Adelard of Corbie
Bl Airaldus of Maurienne
St Asclepius of Limoges
St Aspasius of Auch
St Blidulf of Bobbio
Bl Guillaume Répin
St Hortulana of Assisi
St Isidore of Antioch
St Isidore of Nitria
St Laurent Bâtard
St Macarius the Younger
St Maximus of Vienne
Bl Odino of Rot
St Paracodius of Vienne
St Seraphim of Sarov
Bl Stephana de Quinzanis
St Telesphorus, Pope
St Vincentian of Tulle
Many Martyrs Who Suffered in Rome: There were many martyrs who suffered in the persecutions of Diocletian for refusing to surrender the holy books. Though we know these atrocities occured, we do not know the names of the saints and we honour them as a group. c 303 in Rome, Italy.
Martyrs of Antioch – 5 saints: A group of Christian soldiers martyred together for their faith. We know the names of five – Albanus, Macarius, Possessor, Starus and Stratonicus. They were born in Greece and were martyred in Antioch (modern Antakya, Turkey).
Many Martyrs of Britain: The Christians of Britain appear to have escaped unharmed in the earlier persecutions which afflicted the Church but the cruel edicts of Diocletian were enforced in every corner of the empire and the faithful inhabitants of this land, whether native Britons or Roman colonists, were called upon to furnish their full number of holy Martyrs and Confessors. The names of few are on record but the British historian, Saint Gildas, after relating the martyrdom of Saint Alban, tells us that many others were seized, some put to the most unheard-of tortures and others immediately executed, while not a few hid themselves in forests and deserts and the caves of the earth, where they endured a prolonged death until God called them to their reward. The same writer attributes it to the subsequent invasion of the English, then a pagan people, that the recollection of the places, sanctified by these martyrdoms, has been lost and so little honour paid to their memory . It may be added that, according to one tradition, a thousand of these Christians were overtaken in their flight near Lichfield and cruelly massacred and that the name of Lichfield, or Field of the Dead, is derived from them.
Martyrs of Ethiopia – 3 saints: A group of Christians martyred together for their faith. We know the names of three – Auriga, Claudia and Rutile.
Martyrs of Jerusalem – 2 saints: A group of Christians martyred together for their faith. We know the names of two – Stephen and Vitalis.
Martyrs of Lichfield: Many Christians suffered at Lichfield (aka Lyke-field, meaning field of dead bodies), England in the persecutions of Diocletian. Though we know these atrocities occured, we do not know the names of the saints, and we honour them as a group. Their martyrdom occurred in 304 at Lichfield, England.
Martyrs of Piacenza: A group of Christians who died together for their faith in the persecutions of Diocletian. No details about them have survived. They were martyred on the site of church of Madonna di Campagna, Piacenza, Italy.
Martyrs of Puy – 4 saints: Missionaries, sent by Saint Fronto of Périgueux to the area of Puy, France. Tortured and martyred by local pagans. We know the names – Frontasius, Severinus, Severian and Silanus. They were beheaded in Puy (modern Puy-en-Velay), France and buried together in the church of Notre Dame, Puy-en-Velay by Saint Fronto, their bodies laid out to form a cross.
Martyrs of Syrmium – 7 saints: Group of Christians martyred together, date unknown. We know the names of seven – Acutus, Artaxus, Eugenda, Maximianus, Timothy, Tobias and Vitus – but very little else. This occurred in the 3rd or 4th century at Syrmium, Pannonia (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia).
Martyrs of Tomi – 3 saints: Three brothers, all Christians, all soldiers in the imperial Roman army, and all three martyred in the persecutions of emperor Licinius Licinianus. We know their names – Argeus, Marcellinus and Narcissus – but little else.
They were martyred in 320 at Tomi, Exinius Pontus, Moesia (modern Constanta, Romania).
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