January 2, 2015
Feast of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen,
Bishops, Doctors of the Church
If what you heard from the beginning remains in you,
then you will remain in the Son and in the Father.
One of the things we get out of relationship with Jesus is the ability to read the “doctors of the Church” and know what they are talking about. When we share their faith, we “speak their language.” Like knowing English lets us read Shakespeare, or speaking Spanish lets us experience another culture.
“Doctor of the Church” is a title given to someone who has made a special contribution to theology or spirituality. We have to understand Christianity to appreciate the doctors of the Church. And reading the doctors of the Church helps us appreciate Christianity.
As Christianity helps us appreciate life.
As of 2012, the Catholic Church had named 35 Doctors of the Church: 27 from the West and 8 from the East; 4 women; 18 bishops, 12 priests, 1 deacon, 3 nuns, 1 consecrated virgin; 26 from Europe, 3 from Africa, 6 from Asia.
Just some samples from St. Basil the Great (c. 330 - January 1, 379):
“When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.”
“The power of prayer should be expressed in the moral attitude of our soul and in the virtuous actions that extend throughout our life… This is how you pray continually — not by offering prayer in words, but by joining yourself to God through your whole way of life, so that your life becomes one continuous and uninterrupted prayer.”
“A psalm imparts serenity of soul; it is the author of peace, which calms bewildering and seething thoughts… A psalm forms friendships, unites those separated, conciliates those at enmity. How, indeed, can we still consider as enemies those with whom we have uttered the same prayer to God?
“If you see your neighbor in sin, don’t look only at that, but also think about what your neighbor has done or does that is good, and sometimes you will find that your neighbor is better than you.”
“When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.” (See http://orthodoxchurchquotes.com/category/sayings-from-saints-elders-and-fathers/st-basil-the-great).
If we want to let Jesus act with us and in us and through us, reading the doctors of the Church will help us think with his thoughts, and speak with his words, and act as his body on earth.
“Come, Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of your faithful.
Renew the face of the earth!”
Enter into your inheritance.
“Draw out of your treasure what is new and what is old” (Matthew 13:52).
Do you feel that being Christian has given you something
like a “library of relationships” with great people?