St. Basil the Great, the eloquent preacher and foremost classical scholar of the Patristic Age, expresses his gratitude, love, and care for the Church in his many letters and homilies. The life of St. Basil is familiar to all Orthodox Christians. We know him for his generosity and for his abilities as an orator, a teacher of rhetoric, and for establishing monastic life and orders.
One of the fundamental truths that describes the life of this great saint of the Church is the passage taken from the Epistle of James, chapter 2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." In his own words the saint states: "I will show my faith by my works, and that must be the touchstone of my sincerity!"
We call St. Basil "Great" because of his life, the success in living true Christian stewardship and expressing himself in his sermons and writings. His knowledge and love for Ancient Greek literature gave him the opportunity to transpose this intellectual love into the truth of the Christian Orthodox Faith.
St. Basil’s writings encourage us to supply our soul with all that is best for her. He has written in his essay entitled "To Young Men on How They Might Derive Profit from Pagan Literature" the need for harmony between profession and lifestyle, emphasizing that you must strive to be what you appear — virtuous!
Our young people are greatly influenced by today’s world. One must realize that the examples placed before them from the music they hear to the movies they view do not always project a positive message. These influences affect the morals and values that are needed for our young people to develop the mature and responsible priorities expected for Orthodox Christian stewards. It seems that some Christian Orthodox people may also have their priorities out of order as evidenced in their responses to the call to follow the Biblical teachings regarding regular and proportionate giving to the Lord’s ministry.
Examining the life of St. Basil, we see that among his major contributions to the Church were his establishing monastic disciplines. Although we may not have the calling to become a monastic, the lessons and direction offered by St. Basil are applicable to the Christian steward of every age. St. Basil set Christian perfectionism as the goal. In the monastery, the monks were to practice Christian virtues together, especially those of brotherly love - the practice obedience to a spiritual father - the practice chastity and poverty, and the sharing of common goods of the monastery. After they achieved Christian perfection, they were allowed to come back to the world and help others to achieve Christian perfection. Thus, the monks had the mission of "social workers" as well. In addition to St. Basil 's contributions to monasticism, he established orphanages, hospitals and schools. This was St. Basil's way of utilizing the monastic movement to benefit the mission of the Church in the world.
St. Basil recognized the importance of Christian Stewardship. He encouraged it for both the monastic community and for the stewards of the local parish. From St. Basil’s teachings we, too, can become better Christian stewards and sing to this great Father of the Church:
"Your voice resounded throughout the world that received your word by which, in godly manner, you taught dogma, clarified the nature of beings, and set in order the character of people. Venerable father, Royal Priesthood, intercede to Christ God to grant us great mercy."
To learn more about the stewardship of the saints, click here.