History of St. Basil

Saint Basil was born into a wealthy Christian family in Caesarea Cappadocia, Asia Minor, in 330 AD.

He was one of six children, all of whom became saints. Well educated in the schools of Caesarea, Constantinople, and Athens where he formed a great friendship with Gregory (later known as Saint Gregory Nazianzus).

Shaken by the sudden death of his younger brother, he was converted by his pious sister Makrina. He visited monastic centers and he himself founded a monastic community in Ibora, near his home in Annesti. He lived there with his monks for about five years.

He wrote many rules and guidelines for monastics so that all Eastern monasticism owes something to his spirit.

He was ordained priest in 365 and bishop of Caesarea in 370. He greatly cared for the poor and suffering and built an estate which included houses for travelers, a church, a hospital and a hospice all with a complete staff.
A famine struck the area and sent many poor and starving into his care; their pain grieved him and he labored to feed them with his own hands. He wrote, "If you are reduced to your last loaf of bread and a beggar appears at your door then take the loaf and lift your hands to heaven and say.... O Lord, I have but this one loaf. Hunger lies in wait for me but I revere Your commandments more than all other things". If you should say this, then the bread you gave in your poverty will be changed for an abundant harvest.

In his struggle against the Arian heresy, Saint Basil stood up against the Arian Emperor Valens. When called to account by the state for his orthodoxy, he conducted himself in such a way that the examining prefect (accustomed as he was to more pliable hierarchs) expressed astonishment at his boldness. Saint Basil retorted, "Perhaps you have never had to deal with a proper bishop before"!

Basil wrote to his nephews to make full use of pagan literature (a rare attitude in those days) in order to gain a deeper understanding of the Christian faith. Basil was aware of his own shortcomings and dispirited by disappointments in his life of struggles, wrote: "For my sins, I seem to fall in everything". Nevertheless, he was far from a failure. His labors, including his writings On the Holy Spirit greatly contributed to the final triumph of Nicene orthodoxy at the second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople in 381.

He had a great effect on the formulation of monasticism, the Liturgy of Saint Basil is largely his own work, celebrated ten times during the liturgical year and author of the Anaphora (the central portion of the Divine Liturgy).

He fell asleep in the Lord in 379 AD. We celebrate his feast day on January 1.

The Greek Orthodox Faith

The Orthodox Church is a most democratic body which comprises first, Churches founded by the Apostles themselves or by the disciples of the Apostles, and which have remained in full communion with one another; and secondly, those Churches which have derived their origin from the missionary activity of the first Churches, or which were founded by seperation from them, without loss of communion.

To the first class belong the four Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, and the Church of Cyprus, the Church of Constantinople was founded by St. Andrew, the Church of Alexandria by St. Mark, the Church of Antioch by St. Paul, the Church of Jerusalem by St. Peter and St. James, and the Church of Cyprus by St. Paul and St. Barnabas.

To the second class belong the Church of Sinai, Russia, Greece, Yugoslavia, Rumania, Georgia in the Caucasus, Poland, and the Church of Albania.

All these Churches are independent of each other in their administration but at the same time are in full communion with one another. And what is more important and must be strongly emphasized, they have the same faith, doctrine, Apostolic tradition, sacraments, liturgies and Holy services.

The Orthodox Church derives her teaching from two sources: the Holy Scriptures and the Sacred Traditions as an essential complement of Holy Scripture, because the Apostles wrote the various books which constitute the New Testament from different motives: consequently, it is impossible that the Holy Scriptures should contain all the teachings of our Lord and His Apostles, which at the beginning were transmitted orally. Therefore, Sacred Tradition is older than the New Testament.

We believe that God is one in substance and Trinity in persons. We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance. The Creation is the work in time of the Blessed Trinity. The world is the substance. The world is not self-created, neither has it existed from eternity, but it is the product of the wisdom, the power, and the will of One God in Trinity. God the Father is the prime cause of the creation and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit took part in the Creation, God the Son perfecting the Creation and God the Holy Spirit vivifying the Creation.

We believe that our Lord Jesus Christ is truly God. He is Jesus, that is, the Saviour and Christ, the Lord's Annointed, a Son not created of another substance, as is the case with us, but a Son begotten of the very substance of the Father before all time, and thus consubstantial with the Father. He is also truly man, like us in every respect, except sin. The denial either of His divinity of His humanity constitutes a denial of His incarnation and of our salvation. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father. The faith of the Church about the procession of the Holy Spirit was confirmed by the Second Ecumenical Council, which added to the Creed the following clause: "And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father".

The Church is the Holy institution founded by our Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of men, bearing His holy sanction and authority, and composed of men having one and the same faith, and partaking of the same sacraments. It is divided into the clergy and laity. The clergy trace their descent by interrupted succession from the Apostles and through them from our Lord Jesus Christ. The Church is one because our Lord Jesus Christ founded not many, but one Church; holy because her aim, the sanctification and salvation of her members through the sacraments, is holy: catholic because she is above local limitations: and apostolic because she was "built upon the foundation of the Apostles, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone". (Eph.2:20). The head of the Church is our Lord, Jesus Christ.

We recognize seven sacraments: Baptism, Chrism or Confirmation, Holy Eucharist, Confession, Ordination, Marriage, and Holy Unction.

- Baptism is the door through which one enters into the Church.

- Confirmation is the completion of Baptism, the gift and seal of the Holy Spirit.

- In the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist under the kinds of bread and wine, we partake of the very body and the very blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for remission of sins and eternal life. Both the New Testament and Sacred Tradition bear witness to the real presence of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

- In the Sacrament of Confession Jesus Christ, the founder of the Sacrament, through the confessor, forgives the sins committed after the baptism by the person who confesses his sins and sincerely repents for them.

- In the Sacrament of Ordination through prayer and the laying-on of the hands by a Bishop, Divine Grace comes down on the ordained enabling him to be worthy minister of the Church. Apostolic succession is fundamental to the Church. Without it the Church is quite unthinkable.

- In the Sacrament of Marriage, Divine Grace sanctifies the union of husband and wife.

- In the Sacrament of Holy Unction the sick person is anointed with santified oil and Divine Grace heals both his body and spiritual ills.

At death, man's body goes to the earth from which it was taken, and the soul, being immortal, goes to God, who gave it. The souls of men, being conscious and exercising all their faculties immediately after death are judged by God. This judgement following man's death we call particular judgement.

Final reward of men, however, we believe will take place at the time of the general judgement. During the time between the Particular and the General judgement, which is called the Intermediate State, the souls of men have a foretaste of their blessing or punishment.

Further, we venerate and honor the Saints and we ask their intercession with God, but we adore and worship God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Of all the saints we honor exceedingly the Mother of our Lord, because of the supreme grace and the call which she received from God. Though she was not exempt from original sin, from which she was cleansed at the time of the Annunciation, we believe that by the Grace of God she did not commit actual sin.

We venerate the sacred Icons and relics. Yet this veneration according to the decisions and canons of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, related not to the sacred images as such, but to their prototypes, or to the persons whom they represent.