Revista Studii Teologice


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"Paternitate şi asceză în scrisorile Sfântului Vasile cel Mare (I)"

Fatherhood and Ascesis in the Writings of St. Basil the Great (I)

Autor(i): Pr. Vasile RĂDUCĂ

Summary: Fatherhood and Ascesis in the Writings of St. Basil the Great (I)
The present study addresses St. Basil the Great’s activity as a spiritual director and ascetical father, as described by his correspondence prior to his ordination as bishop. His considerable ascetic experience and sacerdotal worth evinced by this correspondence, confirm his calling as a spiritual director, an example and a teacher in every way.
Although St. Basil was fulfilled in his monastic life, he was very cautious in proposing it to others. The postulant has to fully comprehend the monastic requirements. The ascetic must think according to his heavenly calling, and behave according to his way of thinking. In brief, the ascetic must lead a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ. His main concern is solitude, watchfulness and guard of his mind, prayer and psalm chanting. The ascetic must not allow himself to be distracted from the constant remembrance of Christ, of what He expects us to do and what He deems to be sinful. On the contrary, the ascetic must acquire patience in fighting temptations, peace of mind, moderation in everything, he must not seek vainglory and wealth, avoid idle talking, and never leave his place of ascetic struggle. A monk must not cause trouble but love his brethren, be humble and not scheming or envious, neither proud or boastful of his good deeds, never seek any frivolity or luxury, and not ignore others’ mistakes.
St. Basil offers realistic advice to those willing to embrace monastic life. There are many who engage in ascetical struggles, but not many succeed in carrying them out. Spiritual perfection is only attained by those who persist in struggling to achieve their aim, those who progress in the good direction. Ascesis is a way of life requiring permanent watchfulness. The ascetic effort is not occasional, but a regular lifestyle for those interested in leading a constantly good and righteous life. The gradual attainment of goodness, the immediate goal of the ascetic, presupposes abolishing all evil practices and denying the pleasure brought about by vice. Freedom from vice and the various pleasures is attainable through a discipline of the mind, obtained by “remembering God with veneration (and awe), righteous thinking and the true discernment”.
As regards those aspiring to monasticism, St. Basil recommended that the abbot should establish whether the postulant really intends to leave the world and the bodily pleasures out of his thirst for monastic life, and whether he has acquired the love for God with all his heart, all his strength and all his mind. The key factor in the postulant’s decision must be his deep love for God. After establishing the motivation of this decision, the monastery’s abbot must present to the postulant the difficulties of monastic life, which is not a convenient way of Christian living, but a heroic one. The decision of the novice-to-be to accept ascetical hardships entailed a preparatory period during which he was introduced to the monastic lifestyle. After he freely assumed the struggle for faith and accepted the yoke of Christ, he was integrated into the ascetic community and entrusted to an elder who actually taught him the monastic ways, so that he might become an “experienced fighter” able to fight the devil who had once deceived him.
But which was the treatment of the monks who had been deceived by the devil? St. Basil knows how to manage the failures in the progress of his spiritual sons, so as to correct them. He tactfully showed the fallen monks the seriousness of their fault, he spoke of God’s judgment and the punishment deserved by sinners, but as a true father, he inspired their trust in God’s mercy and the possibility of repentance through virtuous deeds. He was deeply affected by the failures of his spiritual sons, but never allowed them to lose hope. It is natural for the sinners to suffer, but they must not despair. God expects them to recover from sin. The prerequisite for such recovery is avoiding sin; for all sinners who turn away from sinning, salvation is possible.

Pagini: pp. 9-30