Basil Letters And Select Works by Basil
Letter CLXV. To Ascholius, bishop of Thessalonica.
God has fulfilled my old prayer in deigning to allow me to receive the letter of your veritable holiness. What I most of all desire is to see you and to be seen by you, and to enjoy in actual intercourse all the graces of the Spirit with which you are endowed. This, however, is impossible, both on account of the distance which separates us, and the engrossing occupations of each of us. I therefore pray, in the second place, that my soul may be fed by frequent letters from your love in Christ. This has now been granted me on taking your epistle into my hands. I have been doubly delighted at the enjoyment of your communication. I felt as though I could really see your very soul shining in your words as in some mirror; and I was moved to exceeding joy, not only at your proving to be what all testimony says of you, but that your noble qualities are the ornament of my country. You have filled the country beyond our borders with spiritual fruits, like some vigorous branch sprung from a glorious root. Rightly, then, does our country rejoice in her own offshoots. When you were engaging in conflicts for the Faith she heard that the goodly heritage of the Fathers was preserved in you, and she glorified God. And now what are you about? You have honoured the land that gave you birth by sending her a martyr who has just fought a good fight in the barbarian country on your borders, just as a grateful gardener might send his first fruits to those who had given him the seeds. Verily the gift is worthy of Christ's athlete, a martyr of the truth just crowned with the crown of righteousness, whom we have gladly welcomed, glorifying God who has now fulfilled the gospel of His Christ in all the world. Let me ask you to remember in your prayers me who love you, and for my soul's sake earnestly to beseech the Lord that one day I, too, may be deemed worthy to begin to serve God, according to the way of His commandments which He has given us to salvation.