Thursday, June 14, 2012

From Basil the Great

Thursday, June 14, 2012 -- Week of Proper 5, Year Two
Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesearea, 379

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 971)
Psalms [70], 71 (morning)        //        74 (evening)
Ecclesiastes 11:1-8
Galatians 5:16-24  
Matthew 16:13-20

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

In the morning, sow your seed, and at evening do not let your hands be idle; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.  Ecclesiastes 11:6

On his feast day, from a letter from Basil the Great, written from the country after he has moved:

What I do, day and night, in this remote spot, I am ashamed to write to you about. I have abandoned my career in the city because I am convinced that it will only make me further depressed. Within myself, I am still largely unresolved: I am like a traveler on the ocean who has never been on a voyage before and becomes ill and seasick. Such folk moan because the ship is large and has such an enormous swell, and yet the moment they transferred to a smaller boat or dinghy, they are tossed about even more and become violently ill. Wherever they go, they cannot escape from their nausea and depression. My internal state is something like this. I carry my own problems with me wherever I go and there is no escape.

So in the end, I have got very little out of my solitude. What I ought to have done, what would have helped me to walk securely in the footsteps of Jesus who has led me on a path of salvation, would have been to have come here long ago. Has not our Lord said: "if any would come after me, let them deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me"?

We must strive for a quiet mind. The eye cannot appreciate an object set before it if it is perpetually restless, glancing here, there, and everywhere. No more can our mind's eye apprehend the truth with any clarity if it is distracted by 1000 worldly concerns. For just as it is impossible to write up on a wax tablet without first having erased the marks on it, so it is impossible to receive the impress of divine doctrine without unlearning our inherited preconceptions and habitual prejudices. Solitude offers an excellent opportunity in this process because it calms our passions, and creates space for our reason to remove their influence.

Let there be, therefore, places such as this, where we may pursue such spiritual training without interruption, nourishing our souls with thoughts of God. After all, what can be better than to imitate the choirs of angels, to begin the day with prayer, honoring our Creator with hymns and songs? And as the day brightens, to pursue our daily tasks to the accompaniment of prayers, seasoning our labor with hymns as if they were salt? Such soothing melodies compose the mind and establish it in tranquility.

Our one concern is to flourish in self-control and courage, justice and wisdom, and all those other virtues in their various categories which guide the good person in the proper conduct of life.


Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to:

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at

Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


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