Basil the Great is one of the outstanding figures of the Eastern Church, an expert on spirituality. His writings have a universal appeal. They speak to people of all conditions and all times; perhaps, because they are filled with a deep and balanced faith, one which is aware of the majesty of God and of the beauty of the world.
It is characteristic of him that he is nearly always thought of in company, either as a member of his remarkable family which included his sister St Macrina and his brother St Gregory of Nyssa, or as one of a small group of thinkers, the Cappadocian Fathers, which included his friend St Gregory Nazianzen.
He is very conscious of the need for solitude and silence, but also that the spiritual life can never be separated from intepersonal relationships. This is reflected in his fatherly concern to strengthen the community life of the newly-formed monastic groups of his time. Indeed, in relation to these his position in the East is very similar to that of St Benedict in the West.
Edited by Oliver Davies, introduced by A. M. Allchin, and with an excellent translation into modern English by Tim Witherow, this anthology of his writings provides us with a way of entering his spirituality and through it of finding, as the book’s title suggests, a gateway to paradise.