St-Basil-the-GreatJanuary 2nd (January 1 in the east) is the Feast of St Basil the Great.

I am living…in the desert in which the Lord lived.

Here is the oak of Mamre; here is the ladder going up to heaven, and the stronghold of the angels which Jacob saw.

Here is the wilderness in which the people purified received the law, and so came into the land of promise and saw God.

Here is Mount Carmel where Elias sojourned and pleased God.

Here is the plain whither Esdras withdrew, and at God’s bidding uttered all the God inspired books.

Here is the wilderness in which the blessed John ate locusts and preached repentance to men.

Here is the Mount of Olives, whither Christ came and prayed, and taught us to pray.

Here is Christ the lover of the wilderness…. “Here is the strait and narrow way which leadeth unto life” (Matt. 7:14).

Here are the teachers and prophets “wandering in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb. 11:38).

Here are apostles and evangelists and solitaries’ life remote from cities.

This I have embraced with all my heart, that I may win what has been promised to Christ’s martyrs and all His other saints, and so I may truly say, “Because of the words of thy lips I have kept hard ways” (Ps. 17:4, LXX).

I have heard of Abraham, God’s friend, who obeyed the divine voice and went into the wilderness;

of Isaac who submitted to authority; of Jacob, the patriarch, who left his home; of Joseph, the chaste, who was sold;

of the three children, who learnt how to fast, and fought with the fire; of Daniel thrown twice into the lion’s den;

of Jeremiah speaking boldly, and thrown into a pit of mud; of Isaiah, who saw unspeakable things, cut asunder with a saw;

of Israel led away captive; of John the rebuker of adultery, beheaded; of Christ’s martyrs slain.

But why say more?  Here our Saviour Himself was crucified for our sakes that by His death He might give us life, and train and attract us all to endurance.

To Him I press on, and to the Father and to the Holy Ghost.

[…] Think of all these things in your heart; follow them with zeal; fight, as you have been commanded, for the truth to the death.  For Christ was made “obedient” even “unto death” (Phil. 2:8).

The Apostle says, “Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart…in departing from the living God.

But exhort one another…and edify one another (1 Thess. 5:11) while it is called to-day” (Heb. 3:12, 13).  To-day means the whole time of our life.

Thus living, brother, you will save yourself, you will make me glad, and you will glorify God from everlasting to everlasting.  Amen.

Basil the Great (330-379): Letter 42, 5.