Tuesday, January 22, 2019

St. Iakovos of Evia: "For married people, your prayer ropes and prostrations are your children..."

Christ blessing the children (Source)
  
There was once a pious couple with nine children. The husband was very pious and a little overly-zealous as regards spiritual things.

By letter he said that he wanted to do everything like a monk. His wife complained to St. Iakovos of Evia that she was exhausted and that she wanted help. When they came to the Monastery of St. David, at night, while the children were crying and screaming, the wife also was crying because she was so tired...

The husband went to a chapel at the Monastery of the Holy Unmercenaries and was doing prostrations, praying the prayer rope and serving vigil.

The wife complained to St. Iakovos and she was right.

The next day, the Saint, as soon as he saw them in the courtyard of the Monastery, understood what was going on and that they were starting to fight amongst themselves.

The Saint spoke with sweet words and with discernment in order to comfort the pained and exhausted mother, and with discernment and a smile he said to the father: "I was proud of you last night. You chanted all night and prayed. Good job! But you would have had an even greater blessing and reward if you sat a half hour instead of three, near your wife helping her to feed the children and put them to bed, because for married people, your prayer ropes and prostrations are your children. When they grow up you will have time to do them, but "a brother is helped by a brother". Let everything be done by mutual consent."
(source)
  
St. Iakovos of Evia surrounded by children (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Elder Nikon of New Skete: "Show me your faith from your works..."

Excerpt from an interview with Elder Nikon of New Skete where he discusses faith, works and evangelism as regards the Christian faith (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Eldress Makrina: "When we make our nous a Heaven..."

Jesus Christ Pantocrator, the Son of God, the Savior of the World (source)
  
When we make our nous a Heaven and our mouth a Church and we are patient, God will number us with the monastics of the end times, whom a saint has said will have greater glory than any monastics from any other age. This is because today there are no virtuous guides as examples and everyone struggles alone as he is able. We need to protect our eyes and our ears and ceaselessly pray in order to have the grace of God.
-Gerondissa Makrina Vassopoulos of Portaria
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, January 18, 2019

St. Athanasius the Great: "Everything about is marvelous..."

Christ creating the birds and fish (source)
  
For, indeed, everything about is marvelous, and wherever a man turns his gaze he sees the Godhead of the Word and is smitten with awe.
-St. Athanasios the Great
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

38 Beneficial Sayings of St. Anthony the Great

St. Anthony the Great (Source)
  
Thanks to the blog Ora Et Labora for this wonderful post on the famous and spiritually-beneficial 38 sayings of St. Anthony the Great.

"In his 2007 Commencement Address at St Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary, Fr Thomas Hopko had this to say:
I urge you, and, if I could, I would command you, to read St. Anthony’s thirty-eight sayings in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Everything we need to know in order to live is there for us in its simplest and clearest form.
Heeding his command, I reproduce below these thirty-eight sayings, as translated by the late Sr Benedicta Ward SLG in her collection The Sayings of the Desert Fathers:
  
St. Anthony the Great (source)
1. When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by accidie, and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, "Lord, I wand to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction? How can I be saved?" A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony say a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down again and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray. It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him. He heard the angel saying to him, "Do this and you will be saved." At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage. He did this, and he was saved.

2. When the same Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, "Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men proper and why are the just in need? He heard a voice answering him, "Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to known anything about them."

3. Someone asked Abba Anthony, "What must one do in order to please God?" The old man replied, "Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes, whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved."

4. Abba Anthony said to Abba Poemen, "This is the great work of man: always to take the blame for his own sins before God and to expect temptation to his last breath.

5. He also said, "Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." He even added, "Without temptations no-one can be saved."

6. Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, "What ought I to do?" and the old man said to him, "Do not trust in your own righteousness, do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach."

7. Abba Anthony said, "I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, "What can get through from such snares?" Then I heard a voice saying to me, 'Humility.'"

8. He also said, "Some have afflicted their bodies by asceticism, but they lack discernment, and so they are far from God."

9. He said also, "Our life and our death is with our neighbor. If we gain our brother, we have gained God, but if we scandalize our brother, we have sinned against Christ."

10. He also said, "Just as fish die if they stay too long out of water, so the monks who loiter outside their cells or pass their time with men of the world lose the intensity of inner peace. SO like a fish going towards the sea, we must hurry to reach our cell, for fear that if we delay outside we will lost our interior watchfulness."

11. He said also, "He who wishes to live in solitude in the desert is delivered from three conflicts: hearing, speech, and sight; there is only one conflict for him and that is with fornication."

12. Some brothers came to find Abba Anthony to tell him about the visions they were having, and to find out from him if they were true or if they came from the demons. They had a donkey which died on the way. When they reached the place where the old man was, he said to them before they could ask him anything, "How was is that the little donkey died on the way here?" They said, "How do you know about that, Father?" And he told them, "The demons shewed me what happened." So they said, "That was what we came to question you about, for fear we were being deceived, for we have visions which often turn out to be true." Thus the old man convinced them, by the example of the donkey, that their visions came from the demons.

13. A hunter in the desert saw Abba Anthony enjoying himself with the brethren and he was shocked. Wanting to show him that it was necessary sometimes to meet the needs of the brethren, the old man said to him, "Put an arrow in your bow and shoot it." So he did. The old man then said, "Shoot another," and he did so. Then the old man said, 'Shoot yet again," and the hunter replied "If I bend my bow so much I will break it." Then the old man said to him, "It is the same with the work of God. If we stretch the brethren beyond measure they will soon break. Sometimes it is necessary to come down to meet their needs." When he heard these words the hunter was pierced by compunction and, greatly edified by the old man, he went away. As for the brethren, they went home strengthened.

14. Abba Anthony heard of a very young monk who had performed a miracle on the road. Seeing the old man walking with difficulty along the road, he ordered the wild asses to come and carry them until they reached Abba Anthony. He said to them, "This monk seems to me to a ship loaded with goods but I do not know if he will reach harbor." After a while, Anthony suddenly began to weep, to tear his hair and lament. His disciples said to him, "Why are you weeping, Father?" and the old man replied, "A great pillar of the Church has just fallen (he meant the young monk) but go to him and see what has happened." So the disciples went and found the monk sitting on a mat and weeping for the sin he had committed. Seeing the disciples of the old man he said, "Tell the old man to pray that God will give me just ten days and I hope I will have made satisfaction." But in the space of five days he died.

15. The brothers praised a monk before Abba Anthony. When the monk came to see him, Anthony wanted to know how he would bear insults; and seeing that he could not bear them at all, he said to him, "You are like a village magnificently decorated on the outside, but destroyed from within by robbers."

16. A brother said to Abba Anthony, "Pray for me." The old man said to him, " I will have no mercy upon you, nor will God have any, if you yourself do not make an effort and if you do not pray to God.

17. One day some old men came to see Abba Anthony. In the midst of them was Abba Joseph. Wanting to test them, the old man suggested a text from the Scriptures, and, beginning with the youngest, he asked them what it meant. Each gave his opinion as he was able. But to each one the old man said, "You have not understood it." Last of all he said to Abba Joseph, "How would you explain this saying?" and he replied, "I do not know." Then Abba Anthony said, "Indeed, Abba Joseph has found the way, for he has said: 'I do not know.'"

18. Some brothers were coming from Scetis to see Abba Anthony. When they were getting into a boat to go there, they found an old man who also wanted to go there. The brothers did not know him. They sat in the boat, occupied by turns with the words of the Fathers, Scripture and their manual work. As for the old man, he remained silent. When they arrived on shore they found that the old man was going to the cell of Abba Anthony too. When they reached the place, Anthony said to them, "You found this old man a good companion for the journey?" Then he said to the old man, " You have brought many good brethren with you, father." The old man said, "No doubt they are good, but they do not have a door to their house and anyone who wishes can enter the stable and loose the ass." He meant that the brethren said whatever came into their mouths.

19. The brethren came to the Abba Anthony and said to him, "Speak a word; how are we to be saved?" The old man said to them, "You have heard the Scriptures. That should teach you how." But they said, "We want to hear from you too, Father." Then the old man said to them, "The Gospel says, 'if anyone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.'" (Matt. 5.39) They said, "We cannot do that." The old man said, "If you cannot offer the other cheek, at least allow one cheek to be struck." "We cannot do that either," they said. So he said, "If you are not able to do that, do not return evil for evil," and they said, "We cannot do that either." Then the old man said to his disciples, "Prepare a little brew of corn for these invalids. If you cannot do this, or that, what can I do for you? What you need is prayers."
  
St. Anthony the Great (source)
20. A brother renounced the world and gave his goods to the poor, but he kept back a little for his personal expenses. He went to see Abba Anthony. When he told him this, the old man said to him, "If you want to be a monk, go into the village, buy some meat, cover your naked body with it and come here like that." The brother did so, and the dogs and birds tore at his flesh. When he came back the old man asked him whether he had followed his advice. He showed him his wounded body, and Saint Anthony said, "Those who renounce the world but want to keep something for themselves are torn in this way by the demons who make war on them."

21. It happened one day that one of the brethren in the monastery of Abba Elias was tempted. Cast out of the monastery, he went over the mountain to Abba Anthony. The brother lived hear him for a while and then Anthony sent him back to the monastery from which he had been expelled. When the brothers saw him they cast him out yet again, and he went back to Abba Anthony saying, "My Father, they will not receive me." Then the old man sent them a message saying, "A boat was shipwrecked at sea and lost its cargo; with great difficulty it reached the shore; but you want to throw into the sea that which has found a safe harbor on the shore." When the brothers understood that it was Abba Anthony who had sent them this monk, they received him at once.

22. Abba Anthony said, "I believe that the body possesses a natural movement, to which it is adapted, but which it cannot follow without the consent of the soul; it only signifies in the body a movement without passion. There is another movement, which comes from the nourishment and warming of the body by eating and drinking, and this causes the heat of the blood to stir up the body to work. That is why the apostle said, 'Do not get drunk with win for that is debauchery.' (Ephes. 5.18) And in the Gospel the Lord also recommends this to his disciples: 'Take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness.' (Luke 21.34) But there is yet another movement which afflicts those who fight, and that comes from the wiles and jealousy of the demons. You must understand what these three bodily movements are: one is natural, one comes from too much to eat, the third is caused by the demons."

23. He also said, "God does not allow the same warfare and temptations to this generation as he did formerly, for men are weaker now and cannot bear so much."

24. It was revealed to Abba Anthony in his desert that there was one who was his equal in the city. He was a doctor by profession and whatever he had beyond his needs he gave to the poor, and every day he sang the Sanctus with the angels.

25. Abba Anthony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"

26. The brethren came to Abba Anthony and laid before him a passage from Leviticus. The old man went out into the desert, secretly followed by Abba Ammonas, who knew that this was his custom. Abba Anthony went a long way off and stood there praying, crying in a loud voice, "God, send Moses, to make me understand this saying," Then there came a voice speaking with him. Abba Ammonas said that although he heard the voice speaking with him, he could not understand what it said.

27. Three Fathers used to go and visit blessed Anthony every year and two of them used to discuss their thoughts and the salvation of their souls with him, but the third always remained silent and did not ask him anything. After a long time, Abba Anthony said to him, "You often come here to see me, but you never ask me anything," and the other replied, "It is enough fo rme to see you, Father."

28. They said that a certain old man asked God to let him see the Fathers and he saw them all except Abba Anthony. So he asked his guide, "Where is Abba Anthony?" He told him in reply that in the place where God is, there Anthony would be.

29. A brother in a monastery was falsely accused of fornication and he arose and went to Abba Anthony. The brethren also came from the monastery to correct him and bring him back. They set about proving that he had done this thing, but he defended himself and denied that he had done anything of the kind. Now Abba Paphnutius, who is called Cephalus, happened to be there, and he told them this parable: "I have seen a man on the bank of the river buried up to his knees in mud and some men came to give him a hand to help him out, but they pushed him further in up to his neck." Then Abba Anthony said this about Abba Paphnutius: "Here is a real man, who can care for souls and save them." All those present were pierced to the heart by the words of the old man and they asked forgiveness of the brother. So, admonished by the Fathers, they took the brother back to the monastery.

30. Some say of Saint Anthony that he was "Spirit-borne," that is, carried along by the Holy Spirit, but he would never speak of this to men. Such men see what is happening in the world, as well as knowing what is going to happen.

31. One day Abba Anthony received a letter from the Emperor Constantius, asking him to come to Constantinople and he wondered whether he ought to go. So he said to Abba Paul, his disciple, "Ought I to go?" He replied, "If you go, you will be called Anthony; but if you stay here, you will be called Abba Anthony."

32. Abba Anthony said, "I no longer fear God, but I love Him. For love casts out fear." (John 4.18)

33. He also said, "Always have the fear of God before your eyes. Remember him who gives death and life. Hate the world and all that is in it. Hate all peace that comes from the flesh. Renounce this life, so that you may be alive to God. Remember what you have promised God, for it will be required of you on the day of judgment. Suffer hunger, thirst, nakedness, be watchful and sorrowful; weep, and groan in your heart; test yourselves, to see if you are worthy of God; despise the flesh, so that you may preserve your souls.

34. Abba Anthony once went to visit Abba Amoun in Mount Nitria and when they met, Abba Amoun said, "By your prayers, the number of the brethren increases, and some of them want to build more cells where they may live in peace. How far away from here do you think we should build the cells?" Abba Anthony said, "Let us eat at the ninth hour and then let us go out for a walk in the desert and explore the country." So they went out into the desert and they walked until sunset and then Abba Anthony said, "Let us pray and plant the cross here, so that those who wish to do so may build here. Then when those who remain there want to visit those who have come here, they can take a little food at the ninth hour and then come. If they do this, they will be able to keep in touch with each other without distraction of mind." The distance is twelve miles.

35. Abba Anthony said, "Whoever hammers a lump of iron, first decides what he is going to make of it, a scythe, a sword, or an axe. Even so we ought to make up our minds what kind of virute we want to forge or we labor in vain."

36. He also said, "Obedience with abstinence gives men power over wild beasts."

37. He also said, "Nine monks fell away after many labors and were obsessed with spiritual pride, for they put their trust in their own works and being deceived they did not give due heed to the commandment that says, 'Ask your father and he will tell you.'" (Deut. 32.7)

38. And he said this, "If he is able to, a monk ought to tell his elders confidently how many steps he takes and how many drops of water he drinks in his cell, in case he is in error about it."
(source)
  
St. Anthony the Great (source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen! 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista (+2019): "I love you because you are you"

Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista (+January 13th, 2019) (source)
   
Suddenly today, Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista, reposed in the Lord. He was a very beloved and respected hierarch of the Church of Greece and a spiritual child of St. Iakovos of Evia. His words, example and advice carry great weight and his talks are filled with true love and wisdom. Below are a brief biography and a wonderful recent talk of his with English subtitles. May he have a blessed Paradise, and may we have his blessing!

Brief Biography of Metropolitan of Pavlos of Siatista
He was born in Halkida in 1947. After his cycle of studies he entered the Theological School of Athens and graduated in 1971.

In 1973 he was ordained a Deacon by Metropolitan Nikolaos of Halkida, Istiaias and Northern Sporades and appointed to serve in Mantoudi.

In November 1974 he was ordained a priest and received the position of Archimandrite from Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Halkida and served the parish of Mantoudiou for 25 years.

In that area he became the Hierarchical Representative and was a respected preacher and pastoral guide. For over thirty years he focused on the youth and their problems, as a priest, spiritual father, catechist and educator, while at the same time he was called to speak to schools of parents, religious and youth gatherings in many Metropolises in Greece and Cyprus.

On February 28th, 2006, he was elected by the hierarchy of the Church of Greece as Metropolitan of the Holy Metropolis of Sisaniou and Siatistis, his ordination taking place on March 4th, 2006 in the Holy Metropolis of Athens.
    
Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista with his beloved St. Iakovos of Evia (source)
   
He took special care to cultivate the ranks of priests and monastics in his Metropolis.

In his 14 years of shepherding the Holy Metropolis of Sisaniou and Siatistis, he built and consecrated many holy churches, founded new parishes and ordained new clergy.

He was the author of books and had circulated many religious articles.
   
His last night he spent in the Monastery of St. David of Evia and St. Iakovos, which he loved so much, and until noon of his last day he was near there in Rovies, serving his final Divine Liturgy on Sunday January 13th next to the Precious Skull of St. David.
   
In his home town of Halkida there will be a viewing on Monday January 14th in the Church of St. Paraskevi. There will be a vigil that evening served by Metropolitan Chrysostom of Halkida. On January 15th, the body of the blessed Metropolitan Pavlos of Sisaniou will be brought to Siatista where there will be another viewing. His funeral will be served on Wednesday January 16th at noon in the Metropolis Church of St. Demetrios in Siatista.
   
Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista in a recent talk on the popular but meaningful song: "I love you because you are you." (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Prayer of Elder Sophrony for Difficult Times

Christ enthroned Deisis (source)
  
In difficult times, when all my efforts have failed to conform the events of my life towards the Gospel teaching, I would pray in the following manner:
"Come and make Yourself one with my will. Your commandments do not fit within my narrow heart, and my finite nous does not comprehend their content. If You are not well pleased to come and dwell within me Yourself, then I will inevitably be led towards the darkness. I know that You do not work through force, so I entreat You: Come and take charge of my house, and wholly renew me. Transform the hellish darkness of my pride into Your humble love. Transfigure with Your Light my corrupted nature, that no passion might be able to remain within me that would prevent Your coming with Your Father (John 14:21-23). Make me a dwelling place of that holy life which You Yourself have allowed me to taste of here in part...Yes, O Lord, I entreat You, do not deprive from me this sign of Your goodness.
-Elder Sophrony of Essex
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Friday, January 4, 2019

"The waters saw You, O God..."

The Baptism of Christ, Holy Theophany (source)
  
The waters saw You, O God, the waters saw You and were afraid. For towards Your glory the eyes of the Cherubim are not able to gaze, nor are the Seraphim able to approach You. But they stand around You in fear, the former bearing You up, and the latter glorifying Your power. Together with them, O Compassionate One, we tell of Your praise, saying: "O God Who has appeared, have mercy on us."
-Idiomelon from the Aposticha for the Holy Feast of Theophany
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

"You who equaled the former Righteous Ones and Martyrs..."

St. Ephraim of Nea Makri the Newly-revealed and Wonderworker (source)
  
You who equaled the former Righteous Ones and Martyrs, and were a sharer in their struggles, and partook of their grace, as a spotless gift, being glorified by the Comforter, O all-blessed Ephraim, and true healer of God. Therefore, you hasten to work wonders wherever you are called upon, and by sleep and awake you paradoxically appear, granting your saving help to those in danger. But, intercede, O Saint, that your monastery might be kept unharmed, and that those who honor you might be granted the forgiveness of offenses.
-Idiomelon of the Litia from Great Vespers for the feast of St. Ephraim of Nea Makri
  
(source)
  
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Excerpt from the Encomium on St. Basil the Great by St. Gregory the Theologian

St. Basil the Great (source)
 
The following is an excerpt from the lengthy and moving encomium that St. Gregory the Theologian wrote in honor and memory of his close friend, St. Basil the Great. May we have their blessings and witness throughout the world!

"But what are these to his renown for eloquence, and his powers of instruction, which have won the favour of the ends of the world? As yet we have been compassing the foot of the mountain, to the neglect of its summit, as yet we have been crossing a strait, paying no heed to the mighty and deep ocean. For I think that if any one ever has become, or can become, a trumpet, in his far sounding resonance, or a voice of God, embracing the universe, or an earthquake of the world, by some unheard of miracle, it is his voice and intellect which deserve these titles, for surpassing and excelling all men as much as we surpass the irrational creatures. Who, more than he, cleansed himself by the Spirit, and made himself worthy to set forth divine things? Who was more enlightened by the light of knowledge, and had a closer insight into the depths of the Spirit, and by the aid of God beheld the things of God? Whose language could better express intellectual truth, without, as most men do, limping on one foot, by either failing to express his ideas, or allowing his eloquence to outstrip his reasoning powers? In both respects he won a like distinction, and showed himself to be his own equal, and absolutely perfect. To search all things, yea, the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) is, according to the testimony of St. Paul, the office of the Spirit, not because He is ignorant of them, but because He takes delight in their contemplation. Now all the things of the Spirit Basil had fully investigated, and hence he drew his instructions for every kind of character, his lessons in the sublime, and his exhortations to quit things present, and adapt ourselves to things to come.
"The sun is extolled by David for its beauty, its greatness, its swift course, and its power, splendid as a bridegroom, majestic as a giant; while, from the extent of its circuit, it has such power that it equally sheds its light from one end of heaven to the other, and the heat thereof is in no wise lessened by distance. Basil's beauty was virtue, his greatness theology, his course the perpetual motion reaching even to God by its ascents, and his power the sowing and distribution of the Word. So that I will not hesitate to say even this, his utterance went out into all lands, and the power of his words to the ends of the world: as St. Paul says of the Apostles, (Romans 10:18) borrowing the words from David. What other charm is there in any gathering today? What pleasure in banquets, in the courts, in the churches? What delight in those in authority, and those beneath them? What in the hermits, or the cenobites? What in the leisured classes, or those busied in affairs? What in profane schools of philosophy or in our own? There is one, which runs through all, and is the greatest — his writings and labours. Nor do writers require any supply of matter besides his teaching or writings. All the laborious studies of old days in the Divine oracles are silent, while the new ones are in everybody's mouth, and he is the best teacher among us who has the deepest acquaintance with his works, and speaks of them and explains them in our ears. For he alone more than supplies the place of all others to those who are specially eager for instruction.
"I will only say this of him. Whenever I handle his Hexaemeron, and take its words on my lips, I am brought into the presence of the Creator, and understand the words of creation, and admire the Creator more than before, using my teacher as my only means of sight. Whenever I take up his polemical works, I see the fire of Sodom, (Genesis 19:24) by which the wicked and rebellious tongues are reduced to ashes, or the tower of Chalane, impiously built, (Genesis 11:4) and righteously destroyed. Whenever I read his writings on the Spirit, I find the God Whom I possess, and grow bold in my utterance of the truth, from the support of his theology and contemplation. His other treatises, in which he gives explanations for those who are shortsighted, by a threefold inscription on the solid tablets of his heart, lead me on from a mere literal or symbolic interpretation to a still wider view, as I proceed from one depth to another, calling upon deep after deep, and finding light after light, until I attain the highest pinnacle. When I study his panegyrics on our athletes, I despise the body, and enjoy the society of those whom he is praising, and rouse myself to the struggle. His moral and practical discourses purify soul and body, making me a temple fit for God, and an instrument struck by the Spirit, to celebrate by its strains the glory and power of God. In fact, he reduces me to harmony and order, and changes me by a Divine transformation...
"This is my offering to you, Basil, uttered by the tongue which once was the sweetest of all to you, of him who was your fellow in age and rank. If it have approached your deserts, thanks are due to you, for it was from confidence in you that I undertook to speak of you. But if it fall far short of your expectations, what must be our feelings, who are worn out with age and disease and regret for you? Yet God is pleased, when we do what we can. Yet may thou gaze upon us from above, thou divine and sacred person; either stay by your entreaties our thorn in the flesh, (2 Corinthians 12:7) given to us by God for our discipline, or prevail upon us to bear it boldly, and guide all our life towards that which is most for our profit. And if we be translated, do thou receive us there also in your own tabernacle, that, as we dwell together, and gaze together more clearly and more perfectly upon the holy and blessed Trinity, of Which we have now in some degree received the image, our longing may at last be satisfied, by gaining this recompense for all the battles we have fought and the assaults we have endured. Such are our words on your behalf: who will there be to praise us, since we leave this life after you, even if we offer any topic worthy of words or praise in Christ Jesus our Lord, to Whom be glory forever? Amen."
St. Gregory the Theologian (source)
   
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!