July 11, 2007
St. Basil a Model of Charity, Says Pope
Is an Example for Today's Christians
VATICAN CITY, JULY 4, 2007 ( Zenit.org ).- Though St. Basil was a bishop in the fourth century, he continues to be a model for Christians today, Benedict XVI says.
The Pope said that today at the general audience held in Paul VI Hall. He dedicated his address to St. Basil, continuing with his series of teachings on early Church Fathers.
"Through preaching and writing, he carried out intense pastoral, theological and literary activities. With wise balance, he was able to blend service to souls with dedication to prayer and meditation in solitude," the Holy Father said.
The Pontiff highlighted Basil's dedication to acts of charity, which the saint multiplied by training his monks in the same spirit of service.
"In reality," the Bishop of Rome affirmed, "St. Basil created a special kind of monasticism: not closed off from the local Church, but open to it. His monks were part of the local Church; they were its animating nucleus. Preceding others of the faithful in following Christ and not merely in having faith, they showed firm devotion to him -- love for him -- above all in works of charity."
Benedict XVI continued: "As bishop and pastor of his vast diocese, Basil constantly worried about the difficult material conditions in which the faithful lived; he firmly condemned evils; he worked in favor of the poor and marginalized; he spoke to rulers in order to relieve the sufferings of the people, above all in moments of disaster; he looked out for the freedom of the Church, going up against those in power to defend the right to profess the true faith.
"Basil spent himself completely in faithful service to the Church in his multifaceted episcopal ministry.
"This is the program that the holy bishop gives to those who proclaim the word -- yesterday like today -- a program that he himself generously put into practice. […] He was a man who truly lived with his gaze fixed on Christ, a man of love for his neighbor. Full of the hope and the joy of faith, Basil shows us how to be real Christians."