Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Letter CXCI. 2671

To Amphilochius, bishop of Iconium2672

On reading the letter of your reverence I heartily thanked God.  I did so because I found in your expressions traces of ancient affection.  You are not like the majority.  You did not persist in refusing to begin an affectionate correspondence.  You have learned the greatness of the prize promised to the saints for humility, and so you have chosen, by taking the second place, to get before me.  Among Christians such are the conditions of victory, and it is he who is content to take the second place who wins a crown.  But I must not be behindhand in this virtuous rivalry, and so I thus salute your reverence in return; and inform you as to how I am minded, in that, since agreement in the faith is established among us, 2673 there is nothing further to prevent our being one body and one spirit, as we have been called in one hope of our calling. 2674   It is for you, then, of your charity to follow up a good beginning to rally men of like mind to stand at your side, and to appoint both time and place for meeting.  Thus, by God’s grace, through mutual accommodation we may govern the Churches by the ancient kind of love; receiving as our own members brothers coming from the other side, sending as to our kin, and in turn receiving as from our own kin.  Such, indeed, was once the boast of the Church.  Brothers from each Church, travelling from one end of the world to the other, were provided with little tokens, and found all men fathers and brothers.  This is a privilege whereof, like all the rest, the enemy of Christ’s Churches has robbed us.  We are confined each in his own city, and every one looks at his neighbour with distrust.  What more is to be said but that our love has grown cold, 2675 whereby alone our Lord has told us that His disciples are distinguished? 2676   First of all, if you will, do you become known to one another, that I may know with whom I am to be in agreement.  Thus by common consent we will fix on some place convenient to both, and, at a season suitable for travelling, we will hasten to meet one another; the Lord will direct us in the way.  Farewell.  Be of good cheer.  Pray for me.  May you be granted to me by the grace of the Holy One? 2677



Placed in 374.


So the mss. and Editors.  The Ben. note would have it addressed to the recipient of the preceding.  Tillemont thinks it written to one of the Lycian bishops referred to in Letter ccxviii.


μῖν.  Some mss. have μῖν.


cf. Eph. iv. 4.


Matt. xxiv. 12.


John xiii. 35.


Whether the proposed meeting took place, and, indeed, what meeting is referred to, cannot be determined.  Basil met Amphilochius and some neighbouring bishops in Pisidia in 375.  But before this he counts the Isaurians as already in communion with him (Letter cciv.).  Perhaps all that the meeting was desired to bring about was effected by correspondence.  This is the explanation of the Ben. Ed.

Next: To Sophronius the Master.