February / March 2018 - Vol. 96

                                                          the race 
“All of us have a race to run towards our appointed end”
by  Basil the Great

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 then 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 traveler 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'.

The Soul's Dizziness
There are two different roads, one broad and easy, the other hard and narrow. And there are two guides vying with each other to attract the traveller's attention.

Now that we are grown to years of discretion we see that life is an amalgam of vice and virtue. The soul by casting its gaze first on one and then on the other can calculate the consequences of each.

The life of the sinner presents all the pleasures of the present moment; the life of the righteous points to future benefits.

The easy undisciplined way of life leads to pleasure to be enjoyed now, not later; the way of salvation is hard in the present, but promises a beautiful future.

The soul is confused and dithers in its calculations. It prefers pleasure when it is looking at the present; it chooses virtue when its eye is on eternity.

Commentary on Psalm I, 4, 5 (PG29, 22. 1ff.)

Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa, were three important 4th century theologians born in Cappadocia who were responsible for precisely defining the doctrine of the Trinity and clarifying the errors of Arianism. They became known as the Cappadocian Fathers.

Basil the Great (329-379) was the older brother of Gregory of Nyssa. After the best possible education available at the time, Basil withdrew from the world to a monastic life near Neo-Caesarea in Pontus. He returned to public life at the call of his bishop, Eusebius of Caesarea, in Cappadocia, to join in the battle against Arianism. He was ordained priest to help Eusebius and in 370 succeeded him as bishop of Caesarea; this office he held until his death. In 371 he came into conflict with the Arian emperor Valens, who divided Basil's province. Basil was renowned in his own lifetime for his learning, eloquence and personal holiness. His exceptional organising ability left a lasting imprint upon the shape and form of Eastern monasticism and his charitable foundations to help the needy survived several hundred years.

Return to Table of Contents or Archives  (c) copyright 2018  The Sword of the Spirit