Publish date 06-06-2021
When we think of the Fathers of the Church, we imagine distant, unreachable avatars. The Cappadocian Fathers, for example. Basil the Great, advocate of community life, founder of the first cities of charity with hospitality, guesthouses and leper hospitals, was one who went straight to the point: «What does it mean to be a Christian? Love one another as the Lord loved us. Have the Lord always present in front of your eyes. Watching day and night to welcome the unexpected, because the Lord comes when you least think ". (Yes to love, Presence, Unexpected welcome: but aren't they the pillars of the Yes Rule?). Basilio did not have an easy life: he also had to be suspected of heresy. He vented by writing to a friend: «Depression is the main cause of my poor health. My ailments come from too many pains ».
Basilio was very close friends with Gregory of Nazianzo, also from Cappadocia, now a region of Turkey. Two very different types. Basilio contemplative, reserved, attentive administrator. Gregory, a poet in love with God, always fleeing from office, one hundred years after his death called "the theologian", but in the meaning he had in the IV-V century: not "scientist" (?) Of the things of God, but one who knows how to see reality with a purified gaze and testifies to God with the holiness of life. A lover of silence: «Ah, brothers! You do not know that divine gift which is silence: what a privilege it is not to be forced to teach! " Yet, unwittingly, he was the teacher of Maximus the Confessor, Diadoco di Fotica, Agostino, Girolamo, Francesco di Sales, Newman. Spontaneous, lively.
On the women's side: “Why should the adulterous woman be punished while the unfaithful man must not be accountable to anyone? I cannot accept such a law, nor follow such a custom ”.
Finally there is the other Gregory, the third Cappadocian: Gregory of Nissa, Basilio's younger brother. A family of special people, theirs: paternal grandmother Macrina, mother Emmelia, sister Macrina, all saints. He was married and fondly in love with his wife. Against his will, his brother wanted him to be bishop. A writer of mature age and perhaps a deeper thinker than the other two. The mystic of research, of the asceticism of which Moses' ascent to Horeb is an image ("Finding God consists in seeking him without rest. Seeking is no different from finding"; "the fruit of research is the same research; true perfection it is never reached, it has only one limit: that of having none ";" holiness is the work of Christ "). His brother Basilio, married to him, who also criticized him for his ingenuity and practical ineptitude, asked him to write the manifesto of monastic life, which was to inspire his communities. And she transformed him, husband in love, into the spiritual guide of the monks.
The Fathers of the Church are not avatars, nor are they holy cards. If we look closely, the Fathers are still with us. Of course, it takes theologian's eyes to recognize them. From "true" theologians. Not as a "scientist" of God. Eyes of a lover of God.
NP February 2021