Friday January 8th – Living the Good Life.



For Basil and his confreres, the monastic life, which they equated with the life of ‘true philosophy’, was the paradigm of the Christian life. Basil provided the nascent monastic movement of Asia Minor with an organisational context and brought it within the fold of the Church. The monastic or ‘philosophic’ life began with purification and proceeded through contemplation to eventual divinisation. It was the life of ‘perfect renunciation’ that ‘would lead without impediment to virtue.’ Here, in the context of the Greek Fathers, we hear the most authentic voice of Greek philosophy: not the intellectual abstractions of Aristotle (which in contrast to the excitement they caused in the medieval Islamic and Latin worlds attracted relatively little interest in antiquity), but a lived praxis, a ‘way of life’ which aimed to heal the soul and lead, by way of love, to a knowledge of the Good, the True and the Beautiful which was not only intellectual but above all existential: if you weren’t living it, you didn’t know it.


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