“In the fourth century … Christian philanthropy … was extended to believers and unbelievers alike.” (Byzantine Philanthropy and Social Welfare, Demetrius Constantelos, pp. 15-16)
“There was also an increased interest in the ascetic, solitary life; yet charitable work was considered integral to this life, as evidenced by the writings and acts of St. Basil the Great. …. As bishop of Caesarea St. Basil exhorted the monks to be charitable not only to one another, but to all. He even encouraged competition among them in this. The brothers were to labor, so that their institution would be able to provide for the hungry. St. Basil founded what was later named the Basileias, a hostel for travelers and a hospital for, among others, lepers. St. Basil … ‘counseled the monks who worked there to look after the patients as if they were brothers of Christ.’ St. Basil himself nursed the lepers, ‘applying ointments upon them with his own hands.'” (Constantelos, 154-55, 182)
The Desert Fathers and the monastic movement is an icon of consecration for all the Church. Every Parish is called by Christ to emulate their corporate dedication. St. Basil understood the practical implications of Orthodox theology. Jan. 1 was his feast day.
Holy St. Basil the Great, well pleasing to God, pray for us.
From “St. John Chrysostom and the Socialization of Persons with Developmental Disability: Patristic Inspiration for Contemporary Application” in RESOURCES (Orthodox Christian Writings)