Finally, Basil was of course also concerned with that chosen portion of the People of God, the youth, society’s future. He addressed a Discourse to them on how to benefit from the pagan culture of that time.
He recognized with great balance and openness that examples of virtue can be found in classical Greek and Latin literature. Such examples of upright living can be helpful to young Christians in search of the truth and the correct way of living (cf. Ad Adolescentes 3).
Therefore, one must take from the texts by classical authors what is suitable and conforms with the truth: thus, with a critical and open approach - it is a question of true and proper “discernment”- young people grow in freedom.
With the famous image of bees that gather from flowers only what they need to make honey, Basil recommends: “Just as bees can take nectar from
flowers, unlike other animals which limit themselves to enjoying their scent and colour, so also from these writings… one can draw some benefit for the spirit.
We must use these books, following in all things the example of bees. They do not visit every flower without distinction, nor seek to remove all the nectar from the flowers on which they alight, but only draw from them what they need to make honey, and leave the rest. And if we are wise, we will take from those writings what is appropriate for us, and conform to the truth, ignoring the rest” (Ad Adolescentes 4).
Basil recommended above all that young people grow in virtue, in the right way of living: “While the other goods… pass from one to the other as in playing dice, virtue alone is an inalienable good and endures throughout life and after death” (Ad Adolescentes 5).
Friday, August 10, 2007
Following the advice of St. Basil the Great.