Saint Basil the Great - Patron Saint of the Parish
January 1 is the feast day of Saint Basil, which marks anniversary of the death of St. Basil the Great – one of the greatest Fathers and Doctors of the Eastern Church Fathers. As well he is considered as a great legislator and originator of ascetical life as lived in monastic communities.
St. Basil was born in Caesarea, Asia Minor, in the year 329, of a very holy and devout family. His grandmother, a martyr for the Church, and his father, mother, sister Macrina, and two brothers are all honored today by the Church as saints. Completing his university studies in Constantinople and Athens, St. Basil return home only to be persuaded by his sister Macrina to make a tour of the Anachorites and hermitages (living the life of a hermit) of the Middle East who were flourishing at the time. He visited Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Mesopotamia and studied the mode of life of these Anachorites. Their self-denial and love of God impressed him to such an extent that upon returning home he rejected many attractive opportunities for a brilliant secular career and dedicated his life to ascetism (the practice of strict self-denial as a means of religious discipline).
In the year 356, St. Basil, together with a few friends, and his brother Gregory of Nyssa, settled on the banks of the river Iris. Secluded from the turbulence of the world, they founded a monastic community and dedicated their lives to the service of God. In 361, to answer the many questions of his followers, regarding religious life, St. Basil wrote the Ascetical Works, 55 Longer Rules and 313 Shorter Rules, which constitute the first ever compiled Rule for a religious community. Poverty, Obedience, Chastity, renunciation of the world, self-denial and Chastity are the virtues he placed as the foundation of monastic life. Chastity was to become the characteristic virtue of his community based on the Scripture, which reads: “I give you a new command: love one another; just as I have loved you…” (John 13:34).
In 364, St. Basil was ordained a priest and 370 he was elevated to the dignity of Bishop of Cappadocia. Through his life, his main concern was the monastic Community he had founded. He spent much time in writing numerous Ascetical works (explaining how a monk was to live a devout life in the monastery) and in giving final touches to his monastic Rule. Great devotion to the Blessed Virgin was taught by St. Basil, and was to be instilled in the heart of every monk. An early death in 379 stopped his energetic life. Soon after his death, he was proclaimed a saint and for his many services given to the Church, he was named – the Great.
Even today, in the 21stcentury, we have monks following in the footsteps of their Founder and preaching the same lesson founded in the Scriptures as St. Basil did more than 1643 years ago. When Christianity spread through Easter Europe and into Ukraine, the Basilian Monks came founding monastic communities to continue St. Basil’s great work for the spiritual good of the people of God. As Ukrainian settled in different parts of the world, such as Europe, the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina , the Ukrainian faithful can be founded celebrating the Divine Liturgy with Basilian priests, devoted spiritual sons of St. Basil.
This breath of life infused by St. Basil into the hearts of his monks has been an inexhaustible source for the Order of Saint Basil the Great in Canada. The ideals and the spirit of St. basil are the spiritual spring by which the heritage and traditions of the Order of St. Basil the Great still exist.