Today the Catholic Church celebrates St. Basil the Great, Monk, Bishop, Doctor of the Church who died on January 1, 379.
Like mostly of the early fathers of the church he was a pointed advocate of the poor and critic of the accumulation of riches:
“What is a miser? One who is not content with what is needful. What is a thief? One who takes what belongs to others. Why do you not consider yourself a miser and a thief when you claim as your own what you received in trust? If one who takes the clothing off another is called a thief, why give any other name to one who can clothe the naked and refuses to do so?
“The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of the one who is naked. The shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are so many injustices you commit.”
There are many other sides to St. Basil. Somewhere I also came across the prayer for animals which is striking in its move away from anthropocentrism in the approach to animals:
O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the earth as their home in common with us.
We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song has been a groan of travail.
May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours.
Thanks for the information on the prayer.
Hi John. I am on the same page with you concening the issue of animals viewed ethically and theologically. However, I wish to point out that the prayer that you have referred to concerning animals is not a prayer found in any of St Basil’s writings or from the Liturgy of St. Basil. Lots of books and websites claim the prayer is from St. Basil I have painstakingly investigated the matter and can confirm that the prayer was actually written by the liberal social-gospel Baptist theologian Walter Rauschenbusch in 1910. If you have the time to spare you can look at a 7-part series of blog-posts I have assembled on the whole matter of the prayers about animals attributed to St. Basil. The link to the first post in the series is http://animalsmattertogod.wordpress.com/2012/05/01/st-basils-animal-prayers-are-a-hoax-part-one/