Wednesday, January 2, 2013

We happy few, we band of brothers...

Today is the feast of Sts. Basil and Gregory Nazianzan--two men of vastly different temperament who joined together in a deep friendship. Their bond of brotherly love bears fruit even now--a testimony to the power of human friendship made in the Divine image.

Bl. John Henry Newman wrote a fantastic essay on the two men. Read the whole thing here.

This excerpt is from Gregory's poetry, describing the priestly and ascetic life that the two men chose:

"Fierce was the whirlwind of my storm-toss'd mind,
  Searching, 'mid holiest ways, a holier still.
  Long had I nerved me, in the depths to sink
  Thoughts of the flesh, and then more strenuously.
  Yet, while I gazed upon diviner aims,
  I had not wit to single out the best:
  For, as is aye the wont in things of earth,
  Each had its evil, each its nobleness.
  I was the pilgrim of a toilsome course,
  Who had o'erpast the waves, and now look'd round,
  With anxious eye, to track his road by land.
  Then did the awful Thesbite's image rise,
  His highest Carmel, and his food uncouth;
  The Baptist wealthy in his solitude;
  And the unencumbered sons of Jonadab.
  But soon I felt the love of holy books,
  The spirit beaming bright in learned lore,
  Which deserts could not hear, nor silence tell. 

  Long was the inward strife, till ended thus:—
  I saw, when men lived in the fretful world,
  They vantaged other men, but risked the while
  The calmness and the pureness of their hearts.
  They who retired held an uprighter port,
  And raised their eyes with quiet strength towards heaven;
  Yet served self only, unfraternally.
  And so, 'twixt these and those, I struck my path,
  To meditate with the free solitary,
  Yet to live secular, and serve mankind."