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Home > Fathers of the Church > Letters (St. Basil of Caesarea) > Letter 34

Letter 34

ST. BASIL OF CAESAREA

To Eusebius, bishop of Samosata.

How could I be silent at the present juncture? And if I cannot be silent, how am I to find utterance adequate to the circumstances, so as to make my voice not like a mere groan but rather a lamentation intelligibly indicating the greatness of the misfortune? Ah me! Tarsus is undone. This is a trouble grievous to be borne, but it does not come alone. It is still harder to think that a city so placed as to be united with Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Assyria, should be lightly thrown away by the madness of two or three individuals, while you are all the while hesitating, settling what to do, and looking at one another's faces. It would have been far better to do like the doctors. (I have been so long an invalid that I have no lack of illustrations of this kind.) When their patients' pain becomes excessive they produce insensibility; so should we pray that our souls may be made insensible to the pain of our troubles, that we be not put under unendurable agony. In these hard straits I do not fail to use one means of consolation. I look to your kindness; I try to make my troubles milder by my thought and recollection of you. When the eyes have looked intently on any brilliant objects it relieves them to turn again to what is blue and green; the recollection of your kindness and attention has just the same effect on my soul; it is a mild treatment that takes away my pain. I feel this the more when I reflect that you individually have done all that man could do. You have satisfactorily shown us, men, if we judge things fairly, that the catastrophe is in no way due to you personally. The reward which you have won at God's hand for your zeal for right is no small one. May the Lord grant you to me and to His churches to the improvement of life and the guidance of souls, and may He once more allow me the privilege of meeting you.

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Source. Translated by Blomfield Jackson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 8. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1895.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3202034.htm>.

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