St Basil the Great

Born just after the First Council of Nicea in 325 and reposing two years before the First Council of Constantinople in 381 (otherwise known as the First and Second Ecumenical Councils), one man is more responsible than any other for the key changes to the Creed ratified at the latter. Our father among the saints Basil of Caesarea – Basil the Great – helped us understand the nature and work of the Holy Spirit.

Not one to use a few words when 206 will do (at least in an English translation), in a sentence he summarises the nature of the Holy Spirit:

We are compelled to advance in our conceptions to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, unmeasured by times or ages, generous of Its good gifts, to whom turn all things needing sanctification, after whom reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by Its inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things, but Itself in nothing lacking; living not as needing restoration, but as Supplier of life; not growing by additions; but straightway full, self-established, omnipresent, origin of sanctification, light perceptible to the mind, supplying, as it were, through Itself, illumination to every faculty in the search for truth; by nature unapproachable, apprehended by reason of goodness, filling all things with Its power, but communicated only to the worthy; not shared in one measure, but distributing Its energy according to “the proportion of faith;” in essence simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everywhere; impassively divided, shared without loss of ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone, yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air.

What does this mean for us?

So, too, is the Spirit to every one who receives it, as though given to him alone, and yet It sends forth grace sufficient and full for all mankind, and is enjoyed by all who share It, according to the capacity, not of Its power, but of their nature.

In other words, we can have as much of the Holy Spirit as we can handle.

Assassination and the Civilised World

They get their day of fame and then fade from memory. That’s the fate of attempted assassins. Get the job done and they are famous forever. Miss and they fade into oblivion.

I’m surprised that the parole of Sara Jane Moore is a top story right now on US news network websites.  I suppose it is the combination of a slow news day and the aftermath of the Benazir Bhutto assassination. I’d even forgotten her name until now. Moore took a shot at President Ford in 1975. She has been paroled at the age of 77. I’m guessing she’s given up the radical revolutionary politics that motivated her actions. She’s probably happy to fade into oblivion.

Squeaky Fromme, who had a pistol without a round in the chamber when she got close to Ford a couple of weeks before Moore, is 59 and still incarcerated. She waives her right to parole hearings. It’s probably for the best, since she hasn’t exactly been a model prisoner. She hit the prosecutor in the head with an apple at her sentencing hearing. She then attacked another inmate with a claw hammer. She then escaped from prison in West Virginia, apparently to try to meet up with Charles Manson, though this would not have been likely as he is in prison in California. She’s tucked away in Texas now. Fromme is now 59 years old.

John Hinckley, who shot Reagan, is now allowed out of the mental hospital for a few days at a time to visit his parents. No word on whether he is still fixated on Jodie Foster, or whether Jodie’s coming out as a lesbian has finally convinced him to give up the dream. Maybe he be declared cured when he is in his seventies. He’s 52 now.

I think that’s all the presidential would-be assassins.  Deprived of freedom, tucked away, lives wasted, mostly forgotten. That’s the price of their actions.

Because of the proximity to the Bhutto assassination, I can’t help but make a connection. If any of them had been successful, it would have been a terrible day for America and a tragic loss to the First Families.  Nonetheless, I can’t imagine that there would have been rioting in the streets, banks robbed, untold numbers of deaths. Likewise if something were to happen to one of the current presidential candidates, it would be the top of the news for days, but the country would not unravel.

This is another juncture at which the politically correct idea that all cultures are equal falls apart. I have no problem making a moral judgment that the response to the Bhutto assassination in Pakistan is inferior to the response to an assassination in a Western country.  While I do not think it is the responsibility of the US to force the rest of the world into democracy, neither is it wrong to say that non-democratic states ruled by a combination of Sharia and tribal customs are inferior.