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February 28, 2018 3 min read

By St Basil The Great (330-379)

This is His Homily (Liber de Spiritu Sancto, IX, 22-23) Transcribed from  Glimpses of the Church Fathers


Who is there who can hear the names of the Holy Spirit and not feel exaltation in his soul, and not lift up his thoughts to that supreme nature? For he is called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Truth, who proceeds from the Father, the upright Spirit, the guiding Spirit. His chief and distinguishing name is Holy Spirit, for it is the name which clearly expresses, better than any other, the incorporeal, free of matter and indivisible. It is for this reason that Our Lord, teaching that the incorporeal cannot be comprehended, said to the woman who thought God is to be adored in a place: God is spirit (John 4:24).

Thus, on hearing Spirit, it is not right to understand it as a nature circumscribed by a place, subject to changes similar to a creature in every way. Rather, one has to force our thoughts to what is highest within us, thinking about an intelligent substance, infinite as regards power, not located in a place by its size, not subject to the measure of time, and which gives generously of what it possesses.

All creatures turn to the Spirit for their sanctification. All who live virtuously seek him, and are refreshed and helped towards their own natural end by his influence. He is the source of holiness, the light of our understanding, for to every mind he offers his own light for the discovery of truth.

Though by nature he is inaccessible, yet through his generosity men can receive him in themselves. He fills all creatures with his power, but only those who are worthy can participate in him. But all do not share him in the same measure: he distributes his power in proportion to men’s faith.

He is simple in essence, but manifold in power. He is present to each in his fullness, and in his fullness is present everywhere. He is divided, and does not suffer by the division. All share in him, but he remains whole, like a beam of sunshine whose kindly influence benefits each creature as though it were present to that creature alone, and shines over land and sea and dissolves in the air.

So too the Spirit is present like the sun to each individual who is capable of receiving him, and emits an influence which is sufficient to help them all, but is not divided. And they profit by sharing in him according to their natures, not according to his power.

Through him hearts are raised on high, the weak are led by the hand, those who are advanced gain perfection. He it is who shines on those whose hearts are purified and stainless and makes them truly spiritual through the common union they have with him.

Even as bright and shining bodies, once touched by a ray of light falling on them, become even more glorious and themselves cast another light, so too souls that carry the Spirit, and are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and send forth grace upon others.

Theis grace enables them to foresee the future, to understand mysteries, to grasp hidden things, to receive spiritual blessings, to have their thoughts fixed on heavenly things, so that their perseverance in God unfailing, so do they acquire likeness to God, so - most sublime of all - do they themselves become divine.


Glimpses of the Church Fathers:

In recent years there has been a growing awareness among lay people of the importance of Tradition within the Catholic Church. A primary source of this Tradition is the collection of what the Fathers of the Church had to say in Her early history. This selection of writings covers a wide range of topics, and is presented in easily readable units.


St Basil The Great  was one of the most distinguished Doctors of the Church. He was one of ten children, and became a teacher by profession. After giving up teaching he dedicated himself entirely to the service of God. He retiresd to the desert and with St Gregory of Nazianzen he wrote two Ruleswhich were to have a decisive influence in monstastic life in the East. In 364 he was ordained to the priesthood, and in 370 became Bishop of Caesarea.

He was a great theologian, a good administrator and an organizer. Basil was a great contemplative, a man of prayer. His literary work comprises dogmatic, ascetical and liturgical treatises. he is considered among the eight major Fathers of the Church. He died in 379 A.D

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