Today celebrates two great Saints, Basil and Gregory. Why are they important, and why are they important during this Christmas season? Both were acquaintances and colleagues of the fourth century and both earned the title Doctor of the Church. They are important to the development of Christian monasticism, especially in the East. Both saints came from prominent Catholic lineage. Theirs were families of bishops, priests, and saints. They were active in the Church,both in pastoral and scholarly roles. They helped teach the Christ we know today in both doctrine and practice.
One of their great theological battles was arguing against the Arian heresy. Arianism was a vision of Jesus preached by Egyptian presbyter Arian, it was prominent at the time of Basil and Gregory. Arianism states that Jesus Christ was created by the father, distinct from the father, and subordinate to the father.
The Christ that Basil and Gregory preached was “one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.” Basil and Gregory’s Jesus of the Nativity is remarkably different from the one preached by Arian. Basil and Gregory’s God was the one of the Trinity. Those blessed saints used their scholarship to illuminate that Child for us. They helped us recognize the Son of God in a manger, the word made flesh. They helped through both scholarship and lifestyle. Doctors and monks of a continuing Christmas season.