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Today the church remembers Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, 379.More than any other single man, Basil, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (modern central Turkey), was responsible for the shaping of the Eastern Church. He was handsome, brilliant, wealthy, and educated in the finest schools of his day. He did not turn from poverty of body or intellect to Christianity. He was a close friend of Gregory Nazianzus (see May 9) and his brother was Gregory of Nyssa (see March 9). Basil was an eloquent preacher and a most persuasive statesman. He was one of the key figures in the triumph of Christian orthodoxy over Arianism. He was a major contributor to the Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Church which bears his name. Early in his career he founded a monastery on the island of Pontus, and he put forward the monastic rule that still prevails in the Eastern Church. Basil would accept no interpretation of the gospel that called for anything less than radical social action. He founded hospitals and organized a massive program for the relief of the poor, both of which were successful then and for many generations after his death. He called the rich Christians of his city “thieves,” saying, “What other name does he deserve who, being able to clothe the naked, yet refuses?…The clothes you store away belong to the naked; the shoes that molder in your closet belong to those who have none…” Lead us to lift up our hearts to find you in our faith, Lord Christ, and then embolden us to reach out our hands to embrace the world. Amen.
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Almighty God, you have revealed to your Church your eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons; Give us grace that, like your bishop Basil of Caesarea, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit; for you live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.