The Basilian Order is called a "Clerical Order", meaning that most of its members are priests or candidates for the priesthood. While preparing to take the vows, but before his ordination, the student is called a Scholastic. Upon completing high school and studies in the Humanities, he is required to take two years of Philosophy and a four year course in Theology. These courses are taken at one of the Catholic Universities here or abroad. During his fourth year of Theology, the Scholastic is ordained a priest.
According to ability or inclination, select students are given the opportunity to do post-graduate work. Consequently, there are Basilians with degrees in Sacred Theology or Philosophy; others in Holy Scriptures, Canon Law, or Oriental Studies; some even take courses in Sociology, Letters, or Art.
Being engaged in Educational Work, Basilian Fathers also pursue graduate or post-graduate work in Education. All levels, grade schools, high schools, colleges, and seminaries are administered by them. Recently the educational field has received added attention and interest.
At present, the Basilian Fathers in the U.S.A. are principally occupied in Pastoral Work, caring for individual parishes or mission churches which are entrusted to them by local bishops. Thus, the Basilian priests who prefer to work among the people are engaged in various activities necessary for the salvation of souls including teaching, guiding, administering the Sacraments, visiting the sick, and promoting piety.
Popular missions and retreat movement presently in great demand is another field of Basilian activity, This particular task requires exceptionally well trained missionaries.
The Fathers promote religious renewal of the faithful by Basilian Publications, both popular and scientific. In line with their editorial work the Basilian Fathers published the first complete Ukrainian Catholic Bible in 1963. Their publication of the Vatican Documents have received world-wide recognition. There is also an increasing number of scientific works of young Basilian Scholars.
Although the field of activity for the Basilian priest offers vast opportunity, he always remembers that primarily he is a religious, a man of prayer, striving for his personal sanctification and his own spiritual perfection, for "For what doth it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (St. Mat. XVI:26)
There are some men who want to devote their lives to God, but they may be advanced in age, or may not be inclined to undertake the arduous studies required for the priesthood. The Order will welcome them as "Lay Brothers", by presenting them with the opportunity for spiritual advancement and growth. They attain full membership in the Order and participate in all the spiritual privileges and benefits.
The vocation of a lay brother does not differ from that of the Basilian priest. He must possess the same desire to dedicate himself completely to the service of God; he must lead a life of prayer and sacrifice; just as a priest, he must strive toward spiritual perfection. The difference is in the type of work a lay brother performs for the glory of God. Having been endowed with manual skills, the brother utilizes his talents to foster the glory of God and the salvation of souls by assisting the Basilian priest in his apostolic and missionary work. Through his labors, the Basilian brother insures the material welfare of the Order.
The Order urgently needs generous souls who seek to dedicate their skills to God, and thus assure themselves "a reward in heaven". Every type of skill can be used in our Order. Brother Cook, by feeding the community, feeds Jesus. Therein he can hopefully expect to hear the consoling words of Our Lord, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink;" (St. Mat XXV:34-35). Brother Tailor is inspired by the words if Christ, "Naked, and you covered me:" (St. Mat XXV:36). Brothers Carpenter and Mechanic serve God according to the example of St. Joseph. Brothers Gardener and Farmer imitate the dedication of the hidden life in Nazareth. Brothers Printer and Manager make a tremendous contribution to the apostolate of the written word.
Each candidate who desires to serve God with his skill in the Basilian Order has the opportunity to choose the work he likes best. However, it is more important that he is willing to serve God where is is most needed, constantly mindful of Mary's words, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word." (St. Luke I:38). Upon completion of his novitiate, the candidate who already has a trade will continue to work in his particular field. However, if he is not proficient in any line of work, he will be assigned to an older lay brother to learn his chosen skill. In some cases, lay brothers are sent to a professional school to learn their trade from the experts.
The life of the lay brother is a cheerful blending of prayer and work in accordance with the established tradition in the community. As advocated by the founder, St. Basil, "We must toil with diligence and not think that our goal of piety offers an escape from work...but occasion for struggle, for ever greater endeavor, and for patience...praying that the work of our hands may be directed toward its goal, the good pleasure of God" (Saint Basil's Long Rules, #37).
"The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send labourers into his harvest." Gospel of Saint Luke X:2
Much consideration and prayer should be made throughout the discernment, or decision, process, but it can lead to a rewarding and fulfilling vocation in a community of God.
With His call, God provides physical and spiritual fitness to the now whom He has chosen for His own. The two are closely related for if a young man is not fit to be a Religious, he has no vocation, and the opposite is also true.
The fitness requirements of the Basilian Order are:
1. Physical Fitness
Because the candidate undergoes rigorous training during the Novitiate, he must meet all of the demands placed upon him by the community regulations and the daily routine. He must be emotionally mature, be normally healthy, and have physical endurance. To insure these qualifications, the Order generally limits the age of applicants from at least seventeen to fifty years, but the Order can possibly make an exemption for one over fifty. The applicant is required to have a thorough physical examination and to present the results to the Novice Master. Physical defects or chronic disease are serious obstacles to acceptance into the Order.
2. Mental Fitness
To become a monk, the applicant must have average intelligence and good common sense. If he aspires to the diaconate or to the priesthood, he must be predisposed to learning, be diligent in his studies, and be focused.
Application for entrance is best made after high school graduation. Ukrainian (if one does not know it), and Latin are necessary subjects, and it is important to plan a course of study with this in mind.
3. Moral Fitness
Each applicant must be a good practicing Catholic, not bound to the support of his family, or have incurred debt.
By a privilege granted by the Holy Father Pope Leo XIII by his Apostolic Constitution Singulare Praesidium, Catholics of any rite of the Church are acceptable. But, a Catholic upon solemn profession in our order will automatically be enrolled into the Ukrainian Catholic Church. One must remember that a rite is not only for a particular nation or people but comes from a particular nation for the ultimate benefit of the whole world. Hence as a result, one for example can be a Latin-rite Catholic without being Italian.
To be a practicing Catholic means to make an active effort to stay in a state of grace, that is, fulfill your Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation obligations, make a valid Confession frequently (it is highly recommended that one goes to Confession at least every two weeks if one has not committed any mortal sins. But if one unfortunately has, as soon as one can), receive Holy Communion frequently, pray at least thirty minutes daily, etc.
The applicant must possess a generous and dedicated heart, be amiable and willing to follow the orders of his superiors. In entering the monastery, his intention must be to serve God, to save his own soul, to lead a more perfect life, and to help others also lead a more perfect life to save their own souls. The candidate must be ready to make sacrifices for God and his fellowman.
In short, to be fit for religious life, you must have:
1. Good Health - (Age 17-50)
2. Good Head - (Average intelligence, common sense)
3. Good Heart - (Pious, generous, amiable)
Statutes of the Order of Saint Basil the Great
If one is interested in reading our Order's statutes (canons/laws), one could read them by clicking on the following links:
Italian: Click Here
Ukrainian: Click Here
There is currently no official English translation.
TO FIND OUT HOW TO DISCERN YOUR VOCATION WITH US, PLEASE CONTACT OUR VOCATIONS DIRECTOR FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Fr. Andrew Kornelyuk, O.S.B.M.
Call/text: (516) 402-7031