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Letter XCI.23052305    Placed in 372.

To Valerianus, Bishop of Illyricum.23062306    Or, in some mss., the Illyrians.  Valerianus, bishop of Aquileia, was present at the Synod held in Rome in 371 (Theodoret, Hist. Ecc. ii. 2.) and also at the Synod in the same city in 382.  (Theod. Ecc. Hist. v. 9, where see note.)  Dorotheus or Sabinus had brought letters from Athanasius and at the same time a letter from Valerianus.  Basil takes the opportunity to reply.

Thanks be to the Lord, Who has permitted me to see in your unstained life the fruit of primitive love.  Far apart as you are in body, you have united yourself to me by writing; you have embraced me with spiritual and holy longing; you have implanted unspeakable affection in my soul.  Now I have realized the force of the proverb, “As cold water is to a thirsty soul so is good news from a far country.”23072307    Prov. v. 25.  Honoured brother, I really hunger for affection.  The cause is not far to seek, for iniquity is multiplied and the love of many has grown cold.23082308    cf. Matt. xxiv. 12.  For this reason your letter is precious to me, and I am replying by our reverend brother Sabinus.  By him I make myself known to you, and beseech you to be watchful in prayers on our behalf, that God may one day grant calm and quiet to the Church here, and rebuke this wind and sea, that so we may be freed from the storm and agitation in which we are now every moment expecting to be submerged.  But in these our troubles one great boon has God given us in hearing that you are in exact agreement and unity with one another, and that the doctrines of true religion are preached among you without let or hindrance.  For at some time or other, unless the period of this world is not already concluded, and if there yet remain days of human life, it must needs be that by your means the faith must be renewed in the East and that in due season you recompense her for the blessings which she has given you.  The sound part among us here, which preserves the true religion of the Fathers, is sore stricken, and the devil in his wiliness has shattered it by many and various subtle assaults.  But, by the help of the prayers of you who love the Lord, may the wicked and deceitful heresy of the Arian error be quenched; may the good teaching of the Fathers, who met at Nicæa, shine forth; so that the ascription of glory may be rendered to the blessed Trinity in the terms of the baptism of salvation.


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