Blessings of community

Daily Reading for June 14 • Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, 379

Community life offers more blessings than can be fully and easily enumerated. It is more advantageous than the solitary life both for preserving the goods bestowed on us by God and for warding off the external attacks of the Enemy. . . . Wherein will [the solitary] show his humility, if there is no one with whom he may compare and so confirm his own greater humility? Wherein will he give evidence of his compassion, if he has cut himself off from association with other persons? And how will he exercise himself in long-suffering, if no one contradicts his wishes? If anyone says that the teaching of the Holy Scripture is sufficient for the amendment of his or [her] ways, they resemble a person who learns carpentry without ever actually doing a carpenter’s work or a person who is instructed in metal-working but will not reduce theory to practice. . . .Consider, further, that the Lord by reason of His excessive love for humanity was not content with merely teaching the word, but, so as to transmit to us clearly and exactly the example of humility in the perfection of love, girded Himself and washed the feet of the disciples. Whom, therefore will you wash? To whom will you minister? . . . So it is an area for combat, a good path of progress, continual discipline, and a practicing of the Lord’s commandment, when Christians dwell together in community.

From “The Long Rules” by Basil the Great, translated by Sister M. Monica Wagner. Quoted in Invitation to Christian Spirituality: An Ecumenical Anthology, edited by John R. Tyson (Oxford University Press, 1999).

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