Wednesday January 6th – ‘Both sexes ministered to the Saviour’.

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Gregory of Nyssa writes of their sister Macrina, ‘We had a sister who was for us a teacher of how to live, a mother in place of our mother. Such was her freedom toward God that she was for us a strong tower and a shield of favour as the Scripture says, and a fortified city and a name of utter assurance, through her freedom towards God that came of her way of life.’ Not surprisingly, Basil strongly supported women in religious life: ‘If women also choose to live according to the Gospel, and prefer virginity to marriage … they are blessed in their choice wherever they are upon the earth … We for our part pray to have communities of both men and women whose citizenship is in heaven’. Again, ‘The female too joins the campaign at Christ’s side, being enrolled in the campaign according to her virility of soul, rejected in no way for weakness of body. Many women have excelled not one whit less than men. Indeed some have proved themselves even more outstanding. Among their number are those who fill the choir of virgins. From their number are those who have shone resplendently in the contests of confession and in the victories of martyrdom. For the Lord himself, when he came, was not only followed by men, but also by women, and both sexes ministered to the Saviour’.

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