From the Letters of St Gregory of Nazianzus to St Basil

From the Letters of St Gregory of Nazianzus to St Basil December 2, 2014

What I wrote before about our stay in Pontus was in joke, not in earnest; what I write now is very much in earnest. O that one would place me as in the month of those former days, Job 29:2 in which I luxuriated with you in hard living; since voluntary pain is more valuable than involuntary delight. O that one would give me back those psalmodies and vigils and those sojournings with God in prayer, and that immaterial, so to speak, and unbodied life. O for the intimacy and one-souledness of the brethren who were by you divinized and exalted: O for the contest and incitement of virtue which we secured by written Rules and Canons; O for the loving labour in the Divine Oracles, and the light we found in them by the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Or, if I may speak of lesser and slighter matters, O for the daily courses and experiences; O for the gatherings of wood, and the cutting of stone; O for the golden plane-tree, more precious than that of Xerxes, under which sat, not a King enfeebled by luxury, but a Monk worn out by hard life, which I planted and Apollos (I mean your honourable self) watered; 1 Corinthians 3:6 but God gave the increase to our honour, that a memorial might remain among you of my diligence, as in the Ark we read and believe, did Aaron’s rod that budded. Numbers 17:8, 10 To long for all this is very easy, but it is not easy to attain it. But do you come to me, and conspire with me in virtue, and co-operate with me, and aid me by your prayers to keep the profit which we used to get together, that I may not perish little by little, like a shadow as the day draws to its close. I would rather breathe you than the air, and only live while I am with you, either actually in your presence, or virtually by your likeness in your absence.

link; via Ben Meyers, who notes rightly that this reminds him of Wesley Hill’s excellent upcoming book on spiritual friendship


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