Daily Meditations

The Eighth Day of Christmas: Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. The Circumcision of Christ. St. Telemachus, Peacemaker

On January 1 the Greek Orthodox church commemorates Saint Basil the Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia.

Saint Basil was born in the year 330 in Caesarea, to a family renowned for their learning and holiness. His mother, Emilia (commemorated on July 19) and his grandmother Macrina (commemorated on June 14) are Saints of the Church, together with his brothers and sisters: Macrina, his elder sister (July 19), Gregory of Nyssa (January 10), Peter of Sebastia (January 9), and Naucratius.

The Saint studied in Constantinople under the sophist Libanius, then in Athens, where he formed a close friendship that lasted a lifetime with Gregory the Theologian.

Through the good influence of his sister Macrina, St Basil chose to embrace the ascetical life, abandoning his worldly career. He visited the monks in Egypt, in Palestine, in Syria, and in Mesopotamia, and upon returning to Caesarea, he departed to a hermitage on the Iris River in Pontus.

In the year 370, when the bishop of his country reposed, he was elected to succeed to his throne and was entrusted with the Church of Christ, which he tended for eight years, living in voluntary poverty and strict asceticism, having no other care than to defend holy Orthodoxy as a worthy successor of the Apostles.

The Emperor Valens, and Modestus, the Eparch of the East, tried with threats of exile and of torments to bend the Saint to their own confession, because he was the bastion of Orthodoxy in all Cappadocia, and preserved it from heresy when Arianism was at its strongest.

The Emperor Valens himself was almost won over by Basil’s dignity and wisdom, when his son fell gravely sick, he asked Saint Basil to pray for him. The Saint promised that his son would be better if Valens agreed to have him baptised Orthodox. Valens agreed, Saint Basil prayed and the son was no longer sick. But after the Emperor had him baptised by Arians and the child died soon after.

Later, Valens, persuaded by his counsellors, decided to send the Saint into exile because he would not accept the Arians into communion; but his pen broke when he was signing the edict of banishment. He tried a second time and a third, but the pen kept on breaking, so the Emperor tore up the document and the Saint was not banished.

Saint Basil departed to the Lord on the 1st of January in 379, at the age of forty-nine.

Today is the Name Day of Vasilios, Vasilis, Vasos, Vasilia, Vasiliki, Vasoula, Bill, Billy, Vicky and Victoria.

Xronia Polla!

~Greek City Times, https://greekcitytimes.com/2021/01/01/feast-saint-basil-the-great/.


The Meaning of Circumcision for Christ

So, why do we celebrate this? Well, first of all any event in the life of Christ is something worth celebrating. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. But it is also a celebration of His life. Particularly since the humility of His birth captures the depth of the mystery of the Incarnation. That is, that God, who is the creator of all, would enter into His creation as a creature so tiny and “helpless” as a little babe.

Circumcision is first and foremost a sign of the covenant with Abraham. Therefore, Christ’s circumcision expresses the faithfulness of God to His covenants and ordinances. Also, it reveals Christ is bound to both sides of the covenant, in His humanity as well as His divinity. Another aspect of the circumcision is that it is proof of Christ’s humanity. You can’t circumcise an illusion, so this event emphasizes that Christ took on flesh… for real life! This event is also significant because it is the first occasion upon which Christ shed blood. Jewish circumcision is a prefiguring of Christian baptism, and it is also when Christ officially receives His name, Jesus.

~The ByzantineLife.com, https://thebyzantinelife.com/circumcision/.


St. Telemachus, Peacemaker

Published by Dean Franck on January 16, 2016

In our world today, think of all the bizarre customs that are so very contrary to the morals of Christianity. We must constantly struggle against the vain and lustful presentations of the media. It has become common practice to endorse and idolize fame and even certain violent sports. In the many centuries long past, Christians have struggled with similar cultural issues. For example, the gladiator arena was once host to some of the most horrific and violent spectator sports, yet society loved it.

At some point, it takes someone, sometimes even just one person, to make a change. In the 5th century there was a saint who did just that. St. Telemachus is a lesser known saint in our church, but his deed is no less noble. On January 1st 404 he displayed an act of bravery that would ultimately put an end to the gladiator arena. St. Telemachus, a monk from Asia, was so moved in his heart to act out against the atrocious public displays of violence, that he marched out onto the field of the gladiator arena in Rome’s Colosseum. The blood thirsty crowds were howling and sneering. St. Telemachus piously stated his opposition to such horrific acts, which were merely for the sake of public amusement, and many gladiators in the arena were slaves forced to fight against their will.

As Saint Telemachus voiced his Christ-like opinion the crowd began to howl and jeer even louder and to their enjoyment one of the largest gladiators struck St. Telemachus in the head and knocked him to the ground. Yet St. Telemachus did not stop as he knew the truth in his heart. St. Telemachus rose again and continued to piously present his case. This time the gladiator did not even hesitate; he drew his sword and killed St. Telemachus.

However, the response of the crowd was not what was to be expected, in fact it was somewhat miraculous. The entire arena became eerily quiet after the gladiator’s final blow. The crowd felt horrible and was shocked that such a pious man was murdered before their eyes. The crowds began to slowly but surely file out of the arena. After the events surrounding St. Telemachus’ noble stand against the brutality of the gladiator arena, a sensation against the sport was created throughout Rome and the Emperor outlawed gladiator sports with three days of the St. Telemachus’ death. This courageous stand by St. Telemachus created a turning point in certain cultural values that helped more of society embrace Christianity.

Saints of our church always provide us with profound examples of how to resist the societal pressures that often push us to act against our faith. In a time where the gladiator arena was very accepted, St. Telemachus was strong enough to make his stand and make a permanent change for the betterment of Christian society. If we think of all the ill things that our society condones, there are many things we can piously resist. Let us look around and with Christ as our guide, provide some semblance of resistance against the evil forces that attempt to move us to participate in sin. Acts of a peacemaker do not have to be on the large scale of the Saints. If we can help eliminate agitation in our world or radiate our own inner peace, even the small instances of peace we create are very large when combined with the other small instances of peace created by our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.

~Orthodox Christian Network (OCN), https://myocn.net/st-telemachus-peacemaker/.


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