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Sunday, January 2, 2011

CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: SUN. JAN. 2, 2010














CATHOLIC NEWS WORLD: SUN. JAN. 2, 2010: HEADLINES-

VATICAN: POPE PRAYS FOR PEACE AND HOPE FOR 2011

AFRICA: EGYPT: CHURCH SERVICE WHERE BOMBING OCCURED

EUROPE: GERMANY: BISHOP'S MESSAGE- WITNESS TO THE RISEN LORD

ASIA: INDIA: CHRISTIANS AND HINDUS SHARE A CHRISTMAS MEAL

AMERICA: CHILE: BISHOPS ASK FOR PROTECTION OF UNBORN CHILDREN

AUSTRALIA: MILITARY AIDS FLOODED CITY

TODAY'S SAINT: JAN. 2: ST. GREGORY NAZIANZEN

TODAY'S SAINT: JAN. 2: ST. BASIL THE GREAT


VATICAN: POPE PRAYS FOR PEACE AND HOPE FOR 2011


RADIO VATICANA REPORT: “An offense against God and all humanity”, that is how Pope Benedict XVI has described the New Year’s eve bombing of a Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, Egypt, and the ongoing campaign of violence against Christians in Iraq. Speaking to a densely packed St Peter’s Square after the Sunday Angelus prayer, the Pope spoke of his sorrow and pain on hearing news of the latest spate of killings targeting Christians communities.

He said “Yesterday morning we learned with sorrow the news of the serious attack against the Coptic Christian community in Alexandria, Egypt. This vile act of death, such as planting bombs close to the homes of Christians in Iraq to force them to leave, offends God and all humanity, who only yesterday prayed for peace and began the New Year with hope”.

On Saturday, the 44th World Day for Peace, in fact, Pope Benedict had renewed his call for religious freedom as the only path to peace, social stability and coexistence between cultures and peoples.

The Holy Father then appealed for Christians to remember the Gospel teachings of non-violence: “Before this strategy of violence that has targeted Christians, and has consequences for the whole population, I pray for the victims and family members, and encourage church communities to persevere in faith and witness to non-violence that comes from the Gospel”.

Pope Benedict also remembered those religious and lay killed during the course of the past year because of their witness to their faith: “I think also of the many pastoral workers killed in 2010 in various parts of the world to them also goes our loving remembrance before the Lord”.

Once again this year, Fides published its annual report of all the pastoral workers who lost their lives in a violent manner over the course of the last 12 months. According to their information, during 2010, 23 pastoral care workers were killed: one Bishop, 15 priests, one male religious, one religious sister, two seminarians and three lay people.

Again this year the continent most affected is America, with the blood of 15 pastoral care workers: 10 priests, one male religious, one seminarian and three lay people. Following is Asia, with one Bishop, four priests and one religious sister killed. The least affected was Africa, where one priest and one seminarian violently lost their lives.

The Holy Father concluded Sunday by reminding the tens of thousands of pilgrims and visitors to the Square this Sunday, that as Christians “we remain united in Christ, our hope and our peace!”.

“Today we continue to contemplate the divine mystery of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the Word of God made flesh for our salvation, the Wisdom of God who has come to enlighten us. Let us always cherish this presence of Jesus who brings us grace and truth! I wish you all a pleasant Sunday and renew my good wishes for a Happy New Year!”.

AFRICA: EGYPT: CHURCH SERVICE WHERE BOMBING OCCURED

CNN REPORT:
A woman mourns during Sunday Mass at the Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria, Egypt, which was bombed on Saturday.
A woman mourns during Sunday Mass at the Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria, Egypt, which was bombed on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Worshippers at church where blast occurred mourn the loss of fellow congregants
  • An explosion Saturday killed at least 21 people and injured 97 others
  • A church spokesman downplays reports of sectarianism in the region
  • The Egyptian president has vowed to find the perpetrators of the attack

Alexandria, Egypt (CNN) -- Emotional congregants returned to their church Sunday in Alexandria, Egypt, mourning the loss of fellow worshippers in a bombing a day earlier.

Inside the Church of the Two Saints, grisly reminders of the explosion -- believed to be caused by a suicide bomber -- remained as tearful worshippers lighted candles to honor the dead. Broken glass and debris littered the church's interior and portions of the walls were splattered with blood.

Outside, a heavy police presence guarded the church.

At least 21 people were killed and 97 others injured in Saturday's blast, which occurred shortly after midnight as Coptic Christians were attending services at the church, according to Egyptian government officials. Evidence indicates that a suicide bomber caused the blast, the country's interior ministry said Saturday, though witnesses reported seeing a car parked outside the church explode.

"Why would my son or brother go to celebrate the mass by prayer, not by drinking or doing drugs or anything like that, but by praying in the church, and then this would happen to them at the church gate?" one worshipper said Sunday. "What religion or law, whatever it is, would approve what happened yesterday?"

Another worshipper at the church said she lost three family members in the attack.

"What did we do to them? Nothing! We live together (Copts and Muslims) and nothing happens. How would they do this to us, hurt us and make us orphans?" she said.

Copts, who are adherents of an Egyptian sect of Christianity, make up about 9% of the nation's population. About 90% of Egyptians are Muslims.

A small group of Coptic men held a demonstration against the attack about a block away from the church Sunday.

Tensions have been running high between Egypt's Muslim majority and minority Christians.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said in November that 10 Coptic Christian homes and several businesses were burned and looted in Qena province in southern Egypt following rumors of a romantic relationship between a Christian man and Muslim woman.

World leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI, condemned Saturday's bombing.

"The perpetrators of this attack were clearly targeting Christian worshippers, and have no respect for human life and dignity," Obama said in a statement. "They must be brought to justice for this barbaric and heinous act."

But Bishop Makar, the spokesman for the Church of the Two Saints, downplayed sectarian tensions in the region.

"In the beginning, we thought the attack was sectarian, to be honest," he said Sunday. "But now we're quite certain that it has nothing to do with sectarianism especially that we have little sectarianism in Egypt. The vast majority are good and love each other. Here in our area by the way we have no sectarian issues at all."

A nearby mosque was also damaged in the blast and eight Muslims were among the wounded, the interior ministry said.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called for a swift investigation of the "criminal act" and urged Egyptians to stand together "in the face of ... terrorism and those who want to disrupt the nation's security, stability and unity of its people," presidential

spokesman Ambassador Sulaiman Awad said Saturday.

Alexandria Gov. Adil Labib told state-run Nile TV that samples from the scene had been sent to a government lab as part of an investigation. Authorities believe the bomber was killed in the blast, Egypt's Interior Ministry said in a statement Saturday. Forensic testing confirmed that the explosive device used was homemade and contained nails and ball-bearings, the statement said.

"The attack targeted all Egyptians and not just our Coptic brethren," Labib said, according to the country's official Middle East News Agency (MENA).

Mubarak has vowed to find the perpetrators of the attack, saying in an address to the nation Saturday that "this terrorism act has shocked us, hurt hearts of the Egyptians, Muslims and Coptics."

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/01/02/egypt.attack/index.html

EUROPE: GERMANY: BISHOP'S MESSAGE- WITNESS TO THE RISEN LORD

KATH.NET REPORT: The Church needs, according to the Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke Eichstätter first of everything again the commitment of each baptized person to overcome their current crisis. are more important than all the recipes and image management theories today Christians, their faith not just reel off, but act as witnesses to the faith, the bishop said at the celebration of the respective years in Eichstätt Cathedral.

In his sermon called on Bishop Hanke to a factual analysis of the current situation, the Mirror in a number of leaving the church, which is "frighteningly high and painful." The current crisis in the Church is above all a crisis of faith, of the faith had fallen alarmingly, "the beliefs no longer effective."The teachings of the Church would find in a pluralist offer this Limited Acceptance: "It becomes saturated in the search for meaning in other sources.

The current crisis is also a crisis of confidence, mainly because of the pedophile crimes of priests and religious. The way the church superiors with such crimes and the perpetrators had in the past in any way distinguished from the secular treatment facilities and superior service. "We must have clear call sin as sin and death as a crime." In addition, it has succeeded enough to communicate in force since 2002, described by experts as exemplary guidance in matters of sexual abuse as a basis for action and to make the change of perspective in favor of the victims clearly.


According to the Eichstätt bishop is in view of the church history is not appropriate to describe the current situation as the worst crisis of the church, as happened in some media. The current situation of the church was without a doubt a decision situation.Every baptized person must ask, "Where do I stand in experiential relationship with Jesus Christ?" Way out of a crisis had been in church history always cause individuals who have been proactive and others won to work on problem solving and healing: "The Lord is not looking for the masses, but the individual to change the world". The power of individuals is also needed today to tackle the crisis. "I am not afraid of the future if they see us again and again witnesses of the Risen Lord," said Hanke.

Specifically the bishop said in his New Year's sermon to the parents who make efforts to adolescents endure, the elderly, the cross and suffering, trusting in God's assistance, the young people and particularly the altar inside and acolytes for their service, the priests for their living testimony just in what was an often not an easy year, the staff and the many volunteers who are involved in the parishes, so that the Word of God is alive. He urged Christians to walk with confidence the way as a witness of Jesus Christ by the Holy Scripture often occupied motto: "Do not be afraid."

AMERICA: CHILE: BISHOPS ASK FOR PROTECTION OF UNBORN CHILDREN

Agenzia Fides REPORT - The Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Chile (CEC) published a statement entitled: “Cry for innocent lives” in which everyone is invited to protect unborn human life, offering useful information for the discernment which must take place in the consciousness of Catholics and all people of good will. The statement was published on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, 28 December, and was presented by Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, President of the Episcopal Conference, and Bishop Santiago Silva, Auxiliary Bishop of Valparaíso and Secretary General of the CEC.
In the document, in 12 points, the Bishops of Chile use the occasion of Christmas to urge people to be aware of the proposal to decriminalize abortion in certain cases. The text, inspired by the teaching of the Church, intends to contribute to the thinking of legislators and political leaders on “an issue that deeply affects the national soul, as it is the fundamental right to life.”
This, according to the Bishops, is how to respond in the best way, always being respectful of the life of mother and child, through health services, the legal sector and society as a whole, so that they may reflect a deep respect for the right to life of every human being. At the same time we must reflect on how these issues can educate all people about related basic human values, such as respect for life, caring for the weak, solidarity, compassion and justice. “We believe,” the Bishops write, “that these are the questions for discussion. Because the answers that we as a society and as a Country give, mark the life of the mother and child, as well as the national soul and the culture that we build.”
“We believe,” follows the text, “that the level of development of a community is measured by its ability to take care of the weak and the sick. A society that allows them to be eliminated gives way to violence as a way to resolve conflict, becoming a dictatorship where the strongest also make decisions for the weak. Nobody has the right to claim the power to decide which life deserves to see the light of day and which does not.” The document concludes with an invitation to relive Christmas in the perspective of the defence of life and is signed by all the Bishops of Chile

ASIA: INDIA: CHRISTIANS AND HINDUS SHARE A CHRISTMAS MEAL

UCAN REPORT: Residents of a home for the aged managed by a Hindu radical group in Bhopal, central India, yesterday thanked a Christian group for sharing a Christmas lunch with them.

“I am grateful to you for the sumptuous lunch,” A. Banerjee, a 78-year-old resident of Anand Dham(abode of happiness), told a delegation of the Madhya Pradesh Isai Mahasangh (confederation of Christians).

Banerjee said she has six children but none wanted to look after her and “dumped” her in the aged persons’ home 15 years ago.

Christians break down barriers with Hindus thumbnail
Archbishop Leo Cornelio cuts a Christmas cake with residents of the RSS-run old age home in Bhopal on Dec. 30
Archbishop Leo Cornelio of Bhopal led the 15-member group that had lunch with the residents on Dec. 30.

The prelate, who heads the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh state, told the residents, all Hindus, that Christ loves everyone regardless of their religion, caste or color.

Harendra Verma, another resident, said he was delighted to be in the company of Christians. The 83-year-old man said he came to the center after his children abandoned him.

Sheela Santiago, who heads the women’s wing of the ecumenical forum, said they organized the lunch to share “our love and concern for abandoned old people.”

Such gestures will convince others that Christian love has no boundary, she told ucanews.com.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS, national volunteers’ corps), the umbrella body of Hindu radical groups, manages the home.

R. P. Mishra, its president, welcomed the Christian gesture, which he said would help dispel misunderstanding between Christians and RSS.

RSS-affiliated groups are blamed for attacks on Christians and Muslims in India.

Mishra denied his organization harbors ill feeling toward Christians. “On the contrary, (RSS) believes that the whole universe is a home that has no room for hatred but where everyone lives in harmony,” he told ucanews.com.

http://www.ucanews.com/2010/12/31/christians-share-christmas-lunch-with-hindus/

AUSTRALIA: MILITARY AIDS FLOODED CITY

NEWS.COM.AU REPORT: THE military is rushing supplies to the flood-stricken city of Rockhampton today before the last road link is cut, as evacuation centres prepare for up to 1000 evacuees.

The Fitzroy River rose to nine metres overnight, sending a tide of dirty water into more homes in the central Queensland city. Rockhampton's airport runway is already underwater and road links to the south and west are cut.

The push to bring relief to the city and its 75,000 residents came as Queensland braced for more floods.

The Courier-Mail reports that with catchments across the state at record peaks and dams overflowing, concerns are mounting that severe wet weather and the high chance of another cyclone will see towns ravaged more than once this summer.


There also fears that countless snakes are hampering the rescue effort as they make a beeline for higher ground - often inside people's homes.
SOURCE:
http://www.news.com.au/national/rockhampton-facing-catastrophe-as-more-cyclones-are-predicted/story-e6frfkvr-1225980725143

TODAY'S SAINT: JAN. 2: ST. GREGORY NAZIANZEN

St. Gregory Nazianzen

DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH

Feast: January 2



Information:

Feast Day:January 2
Born:

325, Arianzum, Cappadocia

Died:January 25, 389, Arianzum, Cappadocia
Major Shrine:Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in the Fanar

Doctor of the Church, born at Arianzus, in Asia Minor, c. 325; died at the same place, 389. He was son -- one of three children -- of Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus (329-374), in the south-west of Cappadocia, and of Nonna, a daughter of Christian parents. The saint's father was originally a member of the heretical sect of the Hypsistarii, or Hypsistiani, and was converted to Catholicity by the influence of his pious wife. His two sons, who seem to have been born between the dates of their father's priestly ordination and episcopal consecration, were sent to a famous school at Caesarea, capital of Cappadocia, and educated by Carterius, probably the same one who was afterwards tutor of St. John Chrysostom. Here commenced the friendship between Basil and Gregory which intimately affected both their lives, as well as the development of the theology of their age. From Caesarea in Cappadocia Gregory proceeded to Caesarea in Palestine, where he studied rhetoric under Thespesius; and thence to Alexandria, of which Athanasius was then bishop, through at the time in exile. Setting out by sea from Alexandria to Athens, Gregory was all but lost in a great storm, and some of his biographers infer -- though the fact is not certain -- that when in danger of death he and his companions received the rite of baptism. He had certainly not been baptized in infancy, though dedicated to God by his pious mother; but there is some authority for believing that he received the sacrament, not on his voyage to Athens, but on his return to Nazianzus some years later. At Athens Gregory and Basil, who had parted at Caesarea, met again, renewed their youthful friendship, and studied rhetoric together under the famous teachers Himerius and Proaeresius. Among their fellow students was Julian, afterwards known as the Apostate, whose real character Gregory asserts that he had even then discerned and thoroughly distrusted him. The saint's studies at Athens (which Basil left before his friend) extended over some ten years; and when he departed in 356 for his native province, visiting Constantinople on his way home, he was about thirty years of age.

Arrived at Nazianzus, where his parents were now advanced in age, Gregory, who had by this time firmly resolved to devote his life and talents to God, anxiously considered the plan of his future career. To a young man of his high attainments a distinguished secular career was open, either that of a lawyer or of a professor of rhetoric; but his yearnings were for the monastic or ascetic life, though this did not seem compatible either with the Scripture studies in which he was deeply interested, or with his filial duties at home. As was natural, he consulted his beloved friend Basil in his perplexity as to his future; and he has left us in his own writings an extremely interesting narrative of their intercourse at this time, and of their common resolve (based on somewhat different motives, according to the decided differences in their characters) to quit the world for the service of God alone. Basil retired to Pontus to lead the life of a hermit; but finding that Gregory could not join him there, came and settled first at Tiberina (near Gregory's own home), then at Neocæsarea, in Pontus, where he lived in holy seclusion for some years, and gathered round him a brotherhood of cenobites, among whom his friend Gregory was for a time included. After a sojourn here for two or three years, during which Gregory edited, with Basil some of the exegetical works of Origen, and also helped his friend in the compilation of his famous rules, Gregory returned to Nazianzus, leaving with regret the peaceful hermitage where he and Basil (as he recalled in their subsequent correspondence) had spent such a pleasant time in the labour both of hands and of heads. On his return home Gregory was instrumental in bringing back to orthodoxy his father who, perhaps partly in ignorance, had subscribed the heretical creed of Rimini; and the aged bishop, desiring his son's presence and support, overruled his scrupulous shrinking from the priesthood, and forced him to accept ordination (probably at Christmas, 361). Wounded and grieved at the pressure put upon him, Gregory fled back to his solitude, and to the company of St. Basil; but after some weeks' reflection returned to Nazianzus, where he preached his first sermon on Easter Sunday, and afterward wrote the remarkable apologetic oration, which is really a treatise on the priestly office, the foundation of Chrysostom's "De Sacerdotio", of Gregory the Great's "Cura Pastoris", and of countless subsequent writings on the same subject.

During the next few years Gregory's life at Nazianzus was saddened by the deaths of his brother Caesarius and his sister Gorgonia, at whose funerals he preached two of his most eloquent orations, which are still extant. About this time Basil was made bishop of Caesarea and Metropolitan of Cappadocia, and soon afterwards the Emperor Valens, who was jealous of Basil's influence, divided Cappadocia into two provinces. Basil continued to claim ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as before, over the whole province, but this was disputed by Anthimus, Bishop of Tyana, the chief city of New Cappadocia. To strengthen his position Basil founded a new see at Sasima, resolved to have Gregory as its first bishop, and accordingly had him consecrated, though greatly against his will. Gregory, however, was set against Sasima from the first; he thought himself utterly unsuited to the place, and the place to him; and it was not long before he abandoned his diocese and returned to Nazianzus as coadjutor to his father. This episode in Gregory's life was unhappily the cause of an estrangement between Basil and himself which was never altogether removed; and there is no extant record of any correspondence between them subsequent to Gregory's leaving Sasima. Meanwhile he occupied himself sedulously with his duties as coadjutor to his aged father, who died early in 374, his wife Nonna soon following him to the grave. Gregory, who was now left without family ties, devoted to the poor the large fortune which he had inherited, keeping for himself only a small piece of land at Arianzus. He continued to administer the diocese for about two years, refusing, however, to become the bishop, and continually urging the appointment of a successor to his father. At the end of 375 he withdrew to a monastery at Seleuci, living there in solitude for some three years, and preparing (though he knew it not) for what was to be the crowning work of his life. About the end of this period Basil died. Gregory's own state of health prevented his being present either at the deathbed or funeral; but he wrote a letter of condolence to Basil's brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and composed twelve beautiful memorial poems or epitaphs to his departed friend.

Three weeks after Basil's death, Theodosius was advanced by the Emperor Gratian to the dignity of Emperor of the East. Constantinople, the seat of his empire, had been for the space of about thirty years (since the death of the saintly and martyred Bishop Paul) practically given over too Arianism, with an Arian prelate, Demophilus, enthroned at St. Sophia's. The remnant of persecuted Catholics, without either church or pastor, applied to Gregory to come and place himself at their head and organize their scattered forces; and many bishops supported the demand. After much hesitation he gave his consent, proceeded to Constantinople early in the year 379, and began his mission in a private house which he describes as "the new Shiloh where the Ark was fixed", and as "an Anastasia, the scene of the resurrection of the faith". Not only the faithful Catholics, but many heretics gathered in the humble chapel of the Anastasia, attracted by Gregory's sanctity, learning and eloquence; and it was in this chapel that he delivered the five wonderful discourses on the faith of Nicaea -- unfolding the doctrine of the Trinity while safeguarding the Unity of the Godhead -- which gained for him, alone of all Christian teachers except the Apostle St. John, the special title of Theologus or the Divine. He also delivered at this time the eloquent panegyrics on St. Cyprian, St. Athanasius, and the Machabees, which are among his finest oratorical works. Meanwhile he found himself exposed to persecution of every kind from without, and was actually attacked in his own chapel, whilst baptizing his Easter neophytes, by a hostile mob of Arians from St. Sophia's, among them being Arian monks and infuriated women. He was saddened, too, by dissensions among his own little flock, some of whom openly charged him with holding Tritheistic errors. St. Jerome became about this time his pupil and disciple, and tells us in glowing language how much he owed to his erudite and eloquent teacher. Gregory was consoled by the approval of Peter, Patriarch of Constantinople (Duchesne's opinion, that the patriarch was from the first jealous or suspicious of the Cappadocian bishop's influence in Constantinople, does not seem sufficiently supported by evidence), and Peter appears to have been desirous to see him appointed to the bishopric of the capital of the East. Gregory, however, unfortunately allowed himself to be imposed upon by a plausible adventurer called Hero, or Maximus, who came to Constantinople from Alexandria in the guise (long hair, white robe, and staff) of a Cynic, and professed to be a convert to Christianity, and an ardent admirer of Gregory's sermons. Gregory entertained him hospitably, gave him his complete confidence, and pronounced a public panegyric on him in his presence. Maximus's intrigues to obtain the bishopric for himself found support in various quarters, including Alexandria, which the patriarch Peter, for what reason precisely it is not known, had turned against Gregory; and certain Egyptian bishops deputed by Peter, suddenly, and at night, consecrated and enthroned Maximus as Catholic Bishop of Constantinople, while Gregory was confined to bed by illness. Gregory's friends, however, rallied round him, and Maximus had to fly from Constantinople. The Emperor Theodosius, to whom he had recourse, refused to recognize any bishop other than Gregory, and Maximus retired in disgrace to Alexandria.

Theodosius received Christian baptism early in 380, at Thessalonica, and immediately addressed an edict to his subjects at Constantinople, commanding them to adhere to the faith taught by St. Peter, and professed by the Roman pontiff, which alone deserved to be called Catholic. In November, the emperor entered the city and called on Demophilus, the Arian bishop, to subscribe to the Nicene creed: but he refused to do so, and was banished from Constantinople. Theodosius determined that Gregory should be bishop of the new Catholic see, and himself accompanied him to St. Sophia's, where he was enthroned in presence of an immense crowd, who manifested their feelings by hand-clappings and other signs of joy. Constantinople was now restored to Catholic unity; the emperor, by a new edict, gave back all the churches to Catholic use; Arians and other heretics were forbidden to hold public assemblies; and the name of Catholic was restricted to adherents of the orthodox and Catholic faith.

Gregory had hardly settled down to the work of administration of the Diocese of Constantinople, when Theodosius carried out his long-cherished purpose of summoning thither a general council of the Eastern Church. One hundred and fifty bishops met in council, in May, 381, the object of the assembly being, as Socrates plainly states, to confirm the faith of Nicaea, and to appoint a bishop for Constantinople (see CONSTANTINOPLE, THE FIRST COUNCIL OF). Among the bishops present were thirty-six holding semi-Arian or Macedonian opinions; and neither the arguments of the orthodox prelates nor the eloquence of Gregory, who preached at Pentecost, in St. Sophia's, on the subject of the Holy Spirit, availed to persuade them to sign the orthodox creed. As to the appointment of the bishopric, the confirmation of Gregory to the see could only be a matter of form. The orthodox bishops were all in favor, and the objection (urged by the Egyptian and Macedonian prelates who joined the council later) that his translation from one see to another was in opposition to a canon of the Nicene council was obviously unfounded. The fact was well known that Gregory had never, after his forced consecration at the instance of Basil, entered into possession of the See of Sasima, and that he had later exercised his episcopal functions at Nazianzus, not as bishop of that diocese, but merely as coadjutor of his father. Gregory succeeded Meletius as president of the council, which found itself at once called on to deal with the difficult question of appointing a successor to the deceased bishop. There had been an understanding between the two orthodox parties at Antioch, of which Meletius and Paulinus had been respectively bishops that the survivor of either should succeed as sole bishop. Paulinus, however, was a prelate of Western origin and creation, and the Eastern bishops assembled at Constantinople declined to recognize him. In vain did Gregory urge, for the sake of peace, the retention of Paulinus in the see for the remainder of his life, already fare advanced; the Fathers of the council refused to listen to his advice, and resolved that Meletius should be succeeded by an Oriental priest. "It was in the East that Christ was born", was one of the arguments they put forward; and Gregory's retort, "Yes, and it was in the East that he was put to death", did not shake their decision. Flavian, a priest of Antioch, was elected to the vacant see; and Gregory, who relates that the only result of his appeal was "a cry like that of a flock of jackdaws" while the younger members of the council "attacked him like a swarm of wasps", quitted the council, and left also his official residence, close to the church of the Holy Apostles.

Gregory had now come to the conclusion that not only the opposition and disappointment which he had met with in the council, but also his continued state of ill-health, justified, and indeed necessitated, his resignation of the See of Constantinople, which he had held for only a few months. He appeared again before the council, intimated that he was ready to be another Jonas to pacify the troubled waves, and that all he desired was rest from his labours, and leisure to prepare for death. The Fathers made no protest against this announcement, which some among them doubtless heard with secret satisfaction; and Gregory at once sought and obtained from the emperor permission to resign his see. In June, 381, he preached a farewell sermon before the council and in presence of an overflowing congregation. The peroration of this discourse is of singular and touching beauty, and unsurpassed even among his many eloquent orations. Very soon after its delivery he left Constantinople (Nectarius, a native of Cilicia, being chosen to succeed him in the bishopric), and retired to his old home at Nazianzus. His two extant letters addressed to Nectarius at his time are noteworthy as affording evidence, by their spirit and tone, that he was actuated by no other feelings than those of interested goodwill towards the diocese of which he was resigning the care, and towards his successor in the episcopal charge. On his return to Nazianzus, Gregory found the Church there in a miserable condition, being overrun with the erroneous teaching of Apollinaris the Younger, who had seceded from the Catholic communion a few years previously, and died shortly after Gregory himself. Gregory's anxiety was now to find a learned and zealous bishop who would be able to stem the flood of heresy which was threatening to overwhelm the Christian Church in that place. All his efforts were at first unsuccessful, and he consented at length with much reluctance to take over the administration of the diocese himself. He combated for a time, with his usual eloquence and as much energy as remained to him, the false teaching of the adversaries of the Church; but he felt himself too broken in health to continue the active work of the episcopate, and wrote to the Archbishop of Tyana urgently appealing to him to provide for the appointment of another bishop. His request was granted, and his cousin Eulalius, a priest of holy life to whom he was much attached, was duly appointed to the See of Nazianzus. This was toward the end of the year 383, and Gregory, happy in seeing the care of the diocese entrusted to a man after his own heart, immediately withdrew to Arianzus, the scene of his birth and his childhood, where he spent the remaining years of his life in retirement, and in the literary labours, which were so much more congenial to his character than the harassing work of ecclesiastical administration in those stormy and troubled times.

Looking back on Gregory's career, it is difficult not to feel that from the day when he was compelled to accept priestly orders, until that which saw him return from Constantinople to Nazianzus to end his life in retirement and obscurity, he seemed constantly to be placed, through no initiative of his own, in positions apparently unsuited to his disposition and temperament, and not really calculated to call for the exercise of the most remarkable and attractive qualities of his mind and heart. Affectionate and tender by nature, of highly sensitive temperament, simple and humble, lively and cheerful by disposition, yet liable to despondency and irritability, constitutionally timid, and somewhat deficient, as it seemed, both in decision of character and in self-control, he was very human, very lovable, very gifted -- yet not, one might be inclined to think, naturally adapted to play the remarkable part which he did during the period preceding and following the opening of the Council of Constantinople. He entered on his difficult and arduous work in that city within a few months of the death of Basil, the beloved friend of his youth; and Newman, in his appreciation of Gregory's character and career, suggests the striking thought that it was his friend's lofty and heroic spirit which had entered into him, and inspired him to take the active and important part which fell to his lot in the work of re-establishing the orthodox and Catholic faith in the eastern capital of the empire. It did, in truth, seem to be rather with the firmness and intrepidity, the high resolve and unflinching perseverance, characteristic of Basil, than in his own proper character, that of a gentle, fastidious, retiring, timorous, peace-loving saint and scholar, that he sounded the war-trumpet during those anxious and turbulent months, in the very stronghold and headquarters of militant heresy, utterly regardless to the actual and pressing danger to his safety, and even his life which never ceased to menace him. "May we together receive", he said at the conclusion of the wonderful discourse which he pronounced on his departed friend, on his return to Asia from Constantinople, "the reward of the warfare which we have waged, which we have endured." It is impossible to doubt, reading the intimate details which he has himself given us of his long friendship with, and deep admiration of, Basil, that the spirit of his early and well-loved friend had to a great extent moulded and informed his own sensitive and impressionable personality and that it was this, under God, which nerved and inspired him, after a life of what seemed, externally, one almost of failure, to co-operate in the mighty task of overthrowing the monstrous heresy which had so long devastated the greater part of Christendom, and bringing about at length the pacification of the Eastern Church.

During the six years of life which remained to him after his final retirement to his birth-place, Gregory composed, in all probability, the greater part of the copious poetical works which have come down to us. These include a valuable autobiographical poem of nearly 2000 lines, which forms, of course, one of the most important sources of information for the facts of his life; about a hundred other shorter poems relating to his past career; and a large number of epitaphs, epigrams, and epistles to well-known people of the day. Many of his later personal poems refer to the continuous illness and severe sufferings, both physical and spiritual, which assailed him during his last years, and doubtless assisted to perfect him in those saintly qualities which had never been wanting to him, rudely shaken though he had been by the trails and buffetings of his life. In the tiny plot of ground at Arianzus, all (as has already been said) that remained to him of his rich inheritance, he wrote and meditated, as he tells, by a fountain near which there was a shady walk, his favourite resort. Here, too, he received occasional visits from intimate friends, as well as sometimes from strangers attracted to his retreat by his reputation for sanctity and learning; and here he peacefully breathed his last. The exact date of his death is unknown, but from a passage in Jerome (De Script. Eccl.) it may be assigned, with tolerable certainty, to the year 389 or 390.

Some account must now be given of Gregory's voluminous writings, and of his reputation as an orator and a theologian, on which, more than on anything else, rests his fame as one of the greatest lights of the Eastern Church. His works naturally fall under three heads, namely his poems, his epistles, and his orations. Much, though by no means all, of what he wrote has been preserved, and has been frequently published, the editio princeps of the poems being the Aldine (1504), while the first edition of his collected works appeared in Paris in 1609-11. The Bodleian catalogue contains more than thirty folio pages enumerating various editions of Gregory's works, of which the best and most complete are the Benedictine edition (two folio volumes, begun in 1778, finished in 1840), and the edition of Migne (four volumes XXXV - XXXVIII, in P.G., Paris, 1857 - 1862).

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TODAY'S SAINT: JAN. 2: ST. BASIL THE GREAT

St. Basil the Great

CONFESSOR, ARCHBISHOP OF CAESAREA

Feast: January 2



Information:

Feast Day:January 2
Born:

329 at Caesarea, Asia Minor (modern Turkey)

Died:14 June 379
Patron of:Cappadocia, Hospital administrators, Reformers, Monks, Education, Exorcism, Liturgists

Bishop of Caesarea, one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church, born probably 329; died 1 January, 379. He ranks after Athanasius as a defender of the Oriental Church against the heresies of the fourth century. With his friend Gregory of Nazianzus and his brother Gregory of Nyssa, he makes up the trio known as "The Three Cappadocians", far outclassing the other two in practical genius and actual achievement.

St. Basil the Elder, father of St. Basil the Great, was the son of a Christian of good birth and his wife, Macrina (Acta SS., January, II), both of whom suffered for the faith during the persecution of Maximinus Galerius (305-314), spending several years of hardship in the wild mountains of Pontus. St. Basil the Elder was noted for his virtue (Acta SS, May, VII) and also won considerable reputation as a teacher in Caesarea. He was not a priest (Cf. Cave, Hist. Lit., I, 239). He married Emmelia, the daughter of a martyr and became the father of ten children. Three of these, Macrina, Basil, an Gregory are honoured as saints; and of the sons, Peter, Gregory, and Basil attained the dignity of the episcopate.

Under the care of his father and his grandmother, the elder Macrina, who preserved the traditions of their countryman, St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (c. 213-275) Basil was formed in habits of piety and study. He was still young when his father died and the family moved to the estate of the elder Macrina at Annesi in Pontus, on the banks of the Iris. As a boy, he was sent to school at Caesarea, then "a metropolis of letters", and conceived a fervent admiration for the local bishop, Dianius. Later, he went to Constantinople, at that time "distinguished for its teachers of philosophy and rhetoric", and thence to Athens. Here he became the inseparable companion of Gregory of Nazianzus, who, in his famous panegyric on Basil (Or. xliii), gives a most interesting description of their academic experiences. According to him, Basil was already distinguished for brilliancy of mind and seriousness of character and associated only with the most earnest students. He was able, grave, industrious, and well advanced in rhetoric, grammar, philosophy, astronomy, geometry, and medicine. (As to his not knowing Latin, see Fialon, Etude historique et litteraire sur St. Basile, Paris, 1869). We know the names of two of Basil's teachers at Athens, Prohaeresius, possibly a Christian, and Himerius, a pagan. It has been affirmed, though probably incorrectly, that Basil spent some time under Libanius. He tells us himself that he endeavoured without success to attach himself as a pupil to Eustathius (Ep., I). At the end of his sojourn at Athens, Basil being laden, says St. Gregory of Nazianzus "with all the learning attainable by the nature of man", was well equipped to be a teacher. Caesarea took possession of him gladly "as a founder and second patron" (Or. xliii), and as he tells u (ccx), he refused the splendid offers of the citizens of Neo-Caesarea, who wished him to undertake the education of the youth of their city.

To the successful student and distinguished professor, "there now remained", says Gregory (Or. xliii), "no other need than that of spiritual perfection". Gregory of Nyssa, in his life of Macrina, gives us to understand that Basil's brilliant success both as a university student and a professor had left traces of worldliness and self-sufficiency on the soul of the young man. Fortunately, Basil came again in contact with Dianius, Bishop of Caesarea, the object of his boyish affection, and Dianius seems to have baptized him, and ordained him Reader soon after his return to Caesarea. It was at the same time also that he fell under the influence of that very remarkable woman, his sister Macrina, who has meanwhile founded a religious community on the family estate at Annesi. Basil himself tells us how, like a man roused from deep sleep, he turned his eyes to the marvellous truth of the Gospel, wept many tears over his miserable life, and prayed for guidance from God: "Then I read the Gospel, and saw there that a great means of reaching perfection was the selling of one's goods, the sharing of them with the poor, the giving up of all care for this life, and the refusal to allow the soul to be turned by any sympathy towards things of earth" (Ep. ccxxiii). To learn the ways of perfection, Basil now visited the monasteries of Egypt, Palestine, Coele-Syria, and Mesopotamia. He returned, filled with admiration for the austerity and piety of the monks, and founded a monastery in his native Pontus, on the banks of the Iris, nearly opposite Annesi. (Cf. Ramsay, Hist. Geog. of Asia Minor, London, 1890, p. 326). Eustathius of Sebaste had already introduced the eremitical life into Asia Minor; Basil added the cenobitic or community form, and the new feature was imitated by many companies of men and women. (Cf. Sozomen, Hist. Eccl., VI, xxvii; Epiphanius, Haer., lxxv, 1; Basil, Ep. ccxxiii; Tillemont, Mem., IX, Art. XXI, and note XXVI.) Basil became known as the father of Oriental monasticism, the forerunner of St. Benedict. How well he deserved the title, how seriously and in what spirit he undertook the systematizing of the religious life, may be seen by the study of his Rule. He seems to have read Origen's writings very systematically about this time, for in union with Gregory of Nazianzus, he published a selection of them called the "Philocalia".Basil was drawn from his retreat into the area of theological controversy in 360 when he accompanied two delegates from Seleucia to the emperor at Constantinople, and supported his namesake of Ancyra. There is some dispute as to his courage and his perfect orthodoxy on this occasion (cf. Philostorgius, Hist. Eccl., IV, xii; answered by Gregory of Nyssa, In Eunom., I, and Maran, Proleg., vii; Tillemont, Mem., note XVIII). A little later, however, both qualities seem to have been sufficiently in evidence, as Basil forsook Dianius for having signed the heretical creed of Rimini. To this time (c. 361) may be referred the "Moralia"; and a little later came to books against Eunomius (363) and some correspondence with Athanasius. It is possible, also, that Basil wrote his monastic rules in the briefer forms while in Pontus, and enlarged them later at Caesarea. There is an account of an invitation from Julian for Basil to present himself a court and of Basil's refusal, coupled with an admonition that angered the emperor and endangered Basil's safety. Both incident and and correspondence however are questioned by some critics.

Basil still retained considerable influence in Caesarea, and it is regarded as fairly probable that he had a hand in the election of the successor of Dianius who died in 362, after having been reconciled to Basil. In any case the new bishop, Eusebius, was practically placed in his office by the elder Gregory of Nazianzus. Eusebius having persuaded the reluctant Basil to be ordained priest, gave him a prominent place in the administration of the diocese (363). In ability for the management of affairs Basil so far eclipsed the bishop that ill-feeling rose between the two. "All the more eminent and wiser portion of the church was roused against the bishop" (Greg. Naz., Or. xliii; Ep. x), and to avoid trouble Basil again withdrew into the solitude of Pontus. A little later (365) when the attempt of Valens to impose Arianism on the clergy and the people necessitated the presence of a strong personality, Basil was restored to his former position, being reconciled to the bishop by St. Gregory of Nazianzus. There seems to have been no further disagreement between Eusebius and Basil and the latter soon became the real head of the diocese. "The one", says Gregory of Nazianzus (Or. xliii), "led the people the other led their leader". During the five years spent in this most important office, Basil gave evidence of being a man of very unusual powers. He laid down the law to the leading citizens and the imperial governors, settled disputes with wisdom and finality, assisted the spiritually needy, looked after "the support of the poor, the entertainment of strangers, the care of maidens, legislation written and unwritten for the monastic life, arrangements of prayers, (liturgy?), adornment of the sanctuary" (op. cit.). In time of famine, he was the saviour of the poor.

In 370 Basil succeeded to the See of Caesarea, being consecrated according to tradition on 14 June. Caesarea was then a powerful and wealthy city (Soz., Hist. Eccl., V, v). Its bishop was Metropolitan of Cappadocia and Exarch of Pontus which embraced more than half of Asia Minor and comprised eleven provinces. The see of Caesarea ranked with Ephesus immediately after the patriarchal sees in the councils, and the bishop was the superior of fifty chorepiscopi (Baert). Basil's actual influence, says Jackson (Prolegomena, XXXII) covered the whole stretch of country "from the Balkans to the Mediterranean and from the Aegean to the Euphrates". The need of a man like Basil in such a see as Caesarea was most pressing, and he must have known this well. Some think that he set about procuring his own election; others (e. g. Maran, Baronius, Ceillier) say that he made no attempt on his own behalf. In any event, he became Bishop of Caesarea largely by the influence of the elder Gregory of Nazianzus. His election, says the younger Gregory (loc. cit.), was followed by disaffection on the part of several suffragan bishops "on whose side were found the greatest scoundrels in the city". During his previous administration of the diocese Basil had so clearly defined his ideas of discipline and orthodoxy, that no one could doubt the direction and the vigour of his policy. St. Athanasius was greatly pleased at Basil's election (Ad Pallad., 953; Ad Joann. et Ant., 951); but the Arianizing Emperor Valens, displayed considerably annoyance and the defeated minority of bishops became consistently hostile to the new metropolitan. By years of tactful conduct, however, "blending his correction with consideration and his gentleness with firmness" (Greg. Naz., Or. xliii), he finally overcame most of his opponents.

Basil's letters tell the story of his tremendous and varied activity; how he worked for the exclusion of unfit candidates from the sacred ministry and the deliverance of the bishops from the temptation of simony; how he required exact discipline and the faithful observance of the canons from both laymen and clerics; how he rebuked the sinful, followed up the offending, and held out hope of pardon to the penitent. (Cf. Epp. xliv, xlv, and xlvi, the beautiful letter to a fallen virgin, as well as Epp. liii, liv, lv, clxxxviii, cxcix, ccxvii, and Ep. clxix, on the strange incident of Glycerius, whose story is well filled out by Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, New York, 1893, p. 443 sqq.) If on the one hand he strenuously defended clerical rights and immunities (Ep. civ), on the other he trained his clergy so strictly that they grew famous as the type of all that a priest should be (Epp. cii, ciii). Basil did not confine his activity to diocesan affairs, but threw himself vigorously into the troublesome theological disputes then rending the unity of Christendom. He drew up a summary of the orthodox faith; he attacked by word of mouth the heretics near at hand and wrote tellingly against those afar. His correspondence shows that he paid visits, sent messages, gave interviews, instructed, reproved, rebuked, threatened, reproached, undertook the protection of nations, cities, individuals great and small. There was very little chance of opposing him successfully, for he was a cool, persistent, fearless fighter in defence both of doctrine and of principles. His bold stand against Valens parallels the meeting of Ambrose with Theodosius. The emperor was dumbfounded at the archbishop's calm indifference to his presence and his wishes. The incident, as narrated by Gregory of Nazianzus, not only tells much concerning Basil's character but throws a clear light on the type of Christian bishop with which the emperors had to deal and goes far to explain why Arianism, with little court behind it, could make so little impression on the ultimate history of Catholicism.

While assisting Eusebius in the care of his diocese, Basil had shown a marked interest in the poor and afflicted; that interest now displayed itself in the erection of a magnificent institution, the Ptochoptopheion, or Basileiad, a house for the care of friendless strangers, the medical treatment of the sick poor, and the industrial training of the unskilled. Built in the suburbs, it attained such importance as to become practically the centre of a new city with the name of or "Newtown". It was the mother-house of like institutions erected in other dioceses and stood as a constant reminder to the rich of their privilege of spending wealth in a truly Christian way. It may be mentioned here that the social obligations of the wealthy were so plainly and forcibly preached by St. Basil that modern sociologists have ventured to claim him as one of their own, though with no more foundation than would exist in the case of any other consistent teacher of the principles of Catholic ethics. The truth is that St. Bail was a practical lover of Christian poverty, and even in his exalted position preserved that simplicity in food and clothing and that austerity of life for which he had been remarked at his first renunciation of the world.

In the midst of his labours, Basil underwent suffering of many kinds. Athanasius died in 373 and the elder Gregory in 374, both of them leaving gaps never to be filled. In 373 began the painful estrangement from Gregory of Nazianzus. Anthimus, Bishop of Tyana, became an open enemy, Apollinaris "a cause of sorrow to the churches" (Ep. cclxiii), Eustathius of Sebaste a traitor to the Faith and a personal foe as well. Eusebius of Samosata was banished, Gregory of Nyssa condemned and deposed. When Emperor Valentinian died and the Arians recovered their influence, all Basil's efforts must have seemed in vain. His health was breaking, the Goths were at the door of the empire, Antioch was in schism, Rome doubted his sincerity, the bishops refused to be brought together as he wished. "The notes of the church were obscured in his part of Christendom, and he had to fare on as best he might,—admiring, courting, yet coldly treated by the Latin world, desiring the friendship of Rome, yet wounded by her reserve,—suspected of heresy by Damasus, and accused by Jerome of pride" (Newman, The Church of the Fathers). Had he lived a little longer and attended the Council of Constantinople (381), he would have seen the death of its first president, his friend Meletius, and the forced resignation of its second, Gregory of Nazianzus. Basil died 1 January, 379. His death was regarded as a public bereavement; Jews, pagans, and foreigners vied with his own flock in doing him honour. The earlier Latin martyrologies (Hieronymian and Bede) make no mention of a feast of St. Basil. The first mention is by Usuard and Ado who place it on 14 June, the supposed date of Basil's consecration to the episcopate. In the Greek "Menaea" he is commemorated on 1 January, the day of his death. In 1081, John, Patriarch of Constantinople, in consequence of a vision, established a feast in common honour of St. Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom, to be celebrated on 30 January. The Bollandists give an account of the origin of this feast; they also record as worthy of note that no relics of St. Basil are mentioned before the twelfth century, at which time parts of his body, together with some other very extraordinary relics were reputed to have been brought to Bruges by a returning Crusader. Baronius (c. 1599) gave to the Naples Oratory a relic of St. Basil sent from Constantinople to the pope. The Bollandists and Baronius print descriptions of Basil's personal appearance and the former reproduce two icons, the older copied from a codex presented to Basil, Emperor of the East (877-886).

By common consent, Basil ranks among the greatest figures in church history and the rather extravagant panegyric by Gregory of Nazianzus has been all but equalled by a host of other eulogists. Physically delicate and occupying his exalted position but a few years, Basil did magnificent and enduring work in an age of more violent world convulsions than Christianity has since experienced. (Cf. Newman The Church of the Fathers). By personal virtue he attained distinction in an age of saints; and his purity, his monastic fervour, his stern simplicity, his friendship for the poor became traditional in the history of Christian asceticism. In fact, the impress of his genius was stamped indelibly on the Oriental conception of religious life. In his hands the great metropolitan see of Caesarea took shape as the sort of model of the Christian diocese; there was hardly any detail of episcopal activity in which he failed to mark out guiding lines and to give splendid example. Not the least of his glories is the fact that toward the officials of the State he maintained that fearless dignity and independence which later history has shown to be an indispensable condition of healthy life in the Catholic episcopate.

Some difficulty has arisen out of the correspondence of St. Basil with the Roman See. That he was in communion with the Western bishops and that he wrote repeatedly to Rome asking that steps be taken to assist the Eastern Church in her struggle with schismatics and heretics is undoubted; but the disappointing result of his appeals drew from him certain words which require explanation. Evidently he was deeply chagrined that Pope Damasus on the one hand hesitated to condemn Marcellus and the Eustathians, and on the other preferred Paulinus to Meletius in whose right to the See of Antioch St. Basil most firmly believed. At the best it must be admitted that St. Basil criticized the pope freely in a private letter to Eusebius of Samosata (Ep. ccxxxix) and that he was indignant as well as hurt at the failure of his attempt to obtain help from the West. Later on, however, he must have recognized that in some respects he had been hasty; in any event, his strong emphasis of the influence which the Roman See could exercise over the Eastern bishops, and his abstaining from a charge of anything like usurpation are great facts that stand out obviously in the story of the disagreement. With regard to the question of his association with the Semi-Arians, Philostorgius speaks of him as championing the Semi-Arian cause, and Newman says he seems unavoidably to have Arianized the first thirty years of his life. The explanation of this, as well as of the disagreement with the Holy See, must be sought in a careful study of the times, with due reference to the unsettled and changeable condition of theological distinctions, the lack of anything like a final pronouncement by the Church's defining power, the "lingering imperfections of the Saints" (Newman), the substantial orthodoxy of many of the so-called Semi-Arians, and above all the great plan which Basil was steadily pursuing of effecting unity in a disturbed and divided Christendom.
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