20 December 2008

St. Basil on Prayer

Saint Basil (c.330-379), monk and Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Doctor of the Church
Homily 5

"Jesus told them... to pray always"

Don't restrict your prayer simply to asking in words. To be sure, God has no need of discussion; even were we to ask him nothing, he knows what is needful for us. What is there to say? Prayer does not consist in formulae; it encompasses the whole of life. «Whatever you eat or drink,» the apostle Paul says, «or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God» (1Cor 10,31). Are you at table? Pray. In taking bread, give thanks to him who bestowed it; in drinking wine, remember him who gave you this gift to rejoice your heart and solace your ills. Once the meal is finished, do not fail, come what may, in the remembrance of your benefactor. When you put on your tunic, thank him who gave it you; when you put on your cloak, bear witness to your regard for the God who provides us with clothing suitable for winter and summer and so as to protect our life.

When day is done thank him who has given you sun for the day's work and fire to give light at night and supply for our needs. Nighttime provides you with cause for thanksgiving: when looking at the sky and contemplating the beauty of the stars, pray to the Lord of the universe who has made all things with such wisdom. When you see all nature lying asleep, adore again him who relieves all our weariness with sleep and restores the vigor of our strength with a little rest.

In this way you will pray without ceasing if your prayer does not satisfy itself with formulae but, to the contrary, you remain united to God throughout your existence in such a way as to make of your life an unceasing prayer.

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