Spiritual Reading for the Third Monday in Lent ~ St Alphonsus Liguori

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

Spiritual Reading



(March 22)

St. Basil was a priest of Ancyra, in Galatia, who, during the reign of Constantius, bravely defended the Divinity of the Son of God against the Arians, and converted many from that heresy. Upon the death of Constantius, Julian the Apostate succeeded to the empire, and used all his energies for the re-establishment of idolatry, which at this time had been almost annihilated. St. Basil, on the other hand, struggled with all his might against the impious project, and went through the entire city of Ancyra, exhorting the Christians to preserve themselves from apostasy, and to despise the promises of Julian, whom, he said, God would quickly remove. By this conduct he brought upon himself the hatred of the idolaters, who united with the Arians in persecuting him; but the Saint was not to be deterred from defending the Faith of Jesus Christ.

One day while some of the Gentiles were sacrificing to the gods, he prayed aloud that the Lord might confound them, in order that no Christian might be seduced by their example. The idolaters, upon hearing this prayer, became infuriated, and one of them, named Macarius, laying violent hands upon him, said: “Who art thou that darest to disturb the people, and to preach against the worship of the gods?” Basil replied: “Not I, but the God of Heaven, with His invincible power, will destroy your false religion.” The heathens, more infuriated than ever, dragged him before Saturninus, the governor of the province, saying: “This man has been guilty of sedition, and threatens to overturn the altars of the gods.”

Saturninus, turning to him, said: “Who art thou that showest so much rashness?” Basil answered: “I am a Christian, and glory in being so.” “If then thou art a Christian,” said Saturninus, “why dost thou not act like a Christian?” Basil: “Thou art right; a Christian ought to appear such in all his actions.” Saturninus: “Why hast thou raised the people and blasphemed the emperor as the follower of a false religion?” Basil: “I blaspheme not the emperor nor his religion; but I say that in Heaven there is a Ruler Whom the Christians adore as the only true God, and Who can in one moment destroy your false worship.” Saturninus: “What canst thou say against the religion of the emperor?” Basil was about to reply, but Saturninus interrupted him, saying: “All reply is useless; thou must obey the emperor.” Basil: “I never yet failed to obey the Emperor of Heaven.” Saturninus: “Who is this Emperor of Heaven?” Basil: “He that dwelleth in Heaven and beholdeth all things; while your emperor commands only upon earth, and is a man like the rest, and will shortly fall into the hands of the Great King.”

The governor, irritated at this answer, ordered that the Saint should be suspended, and torn with iron hooks; but while Basil was returning thanks to God, he asked him whether he would sacrifice. The Saint replied: “I have placed all my confidence in the King of kings; nor is it in the power of man to change me.” The tyrant, perceiving that the executioners had fatigued themselves, sent him to prison; and one Felix, a bad Christian, who met him by the way, advised him to obey the emperor, but our Saint answered: “Depart from me, O impious wretch! Enveloped as thou art in the darkness of sin, how canst thou see the light?”

The Emperor Julian was at this time at Pessinunte, celebrating the festival of the goddess Cybele, who was said to be the mother of the gods. Here Saturninus informed him of what had taken place regarding Basil. The apostate, hearing that he possessed great influence, sent two other apostates, Elpidius and Pegasus, to gain him over. When the latter went to the prison to speak to him, the Saint said: “Traitor! why hast thou renounced Jesus Christ and thy hopes of salvation? After having been cleansed in the waters of Baptism, how couldst thou stain thyself with idolatry? After having been fed with the Flesh of Jesus Christ, how canst thou sit at a feast of demons? Thou wert the disciple of truth, and art now become a master of perdition, to the eternal loss of thy own soul. What wilt thou do when the Lord shall come to judge thee?” Then raising his eyes to Heaven, he exclaimed: “Vouchsafe, O Lord, to deliver me from the snares of the devil.” Pegasus, covered with confusion, related the affair to Elpidius, and they both proceeded to inform the governor, who again caused Basil to be put to torture. When the Saint was placed upon the rack, he said: “Impious tyrant, thou mayest exercise all thy cruelty, but so long as Jesus Christ is with me, I never will change.”

Leave a Reply