Today is the Memorial of St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory Nazianzen. It may be unusual for two saints to share a feast day, but in this case it is fitting. These men were not only contemporaries, both living as hermits, both being bishops and both being recognized as doctors of the Church. They were also best friends.
In the Office of Readings for today, an excerpt is given of a homily by St. Gregory in which he speaks of his friendship with St. Basil. I think it speaks beautifully of what a good and holy thing a friendship can be, so I wanted to share part of it with you here. May it be a blessing to you.
When, in the course of time, we acknowledged our friendship and recognised that our ambition was a life of true wisdom, we became everything to each other: we shared the same lodging, the same table, the same desires the same goal. Our love for each other grew daily warmer and deeper.The same hope inspired us: the pursuit of learning. This is an ambition especially subject to envy. Yet between us there was no envy. On the contrary, we made capital out of our rivalry. Our rivalry consisted, not in seeking the first place for oneself but in yielding it to the other, for we each looked on the other’s success as his own.We seemed to be two bodies with a single spirit. Though we cannot believe those who claim that everything is contained in everything, yet you must believe that in our case each of us was in the other and with the other.Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.Different men have different names, which they owe to their parents or to themselves, that is, to their own pursuits and achievements. But our great pursuit, the great name we wanted, was to be Christians, to be called Christians.