Sunday, March 20, 2022

Quotes by Basil the Great - Arranged by Topic

Quotes by Basil the Great - Arranged by Topic

On Discipleship

“There is only one way out of this, namely, total separation from all the world. But withdrawal from the world does not mean physical removal from it. Rather, it is the withdrawal by the soul of any sympathy for the body. One becomes stateless and homeless. One gives up possessions, friends, ownership and property, livelihood, business connection, social life and scholarship. The heart is made ready to receive the imprint of sacred teaching, and this making ready involves the unlearning of knowledge deriving from evil habits. To write on wax, one has first to erase the letters previously written there, and to bring sacred teaching to the soul one must begin by wiping out preoccupation rooted in ordinary habits.”


On God

“Indeed, the Father was and the Son was born. Do not say, “When?” That’s a stupid question. Do not ask, “How?” An answer is impossible. For “when” has temporal overtones and “how” makes us slide toward corporeal ways of conceptualizing his birth


On Good Works

“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

On the Holy Spirit

“What does the Spirit do? His works are ineffable in majesty, and innumerable in quantity. How can we even ponder what extends beyond the ages? What did He do before creation began? How great are the graces He showered on creation? What power will He wield in the age to come? He existed; He pre-existed; He co-existed with the Father and the Son before the ages. Even if you can imagine anything beyond the ages, you will discover that the Spirit is even further before.”

“[The Holy Spirit] is present as a whole to each and wholly present everywhere. He is portioned out impassably and participated in as a whole. He is like a sunbeam whose grace is present to the one who enjoys him as if he were present to such a one alone, and still he illuminates land and sea and is mixed with the air. Just so, indeed, the Spirit is present to each one who is fit to receive him, as if he were present to him alone, and still he sends out his grace that is complete and sufficient for all. The things that participate in him enjoy him to the extent that their nature allows, not to the extent that his power allows.”


On Humanity

“I discovered from this word both that the human is nothing and that the human is great. If you look toward our nature alone, it is nothing and is worthy of nothing, but if you look toward the honor with which he was honored, the human is great.”

“But by his own hands, as an artist, he took earth. When you focus on what is taken, what is the human being? When you understand the One doing the molding, the human is great, indeed he is nothing because of the material and great through the honor.”


On Loving God

“Love of God is not something that can be taught. We did not learn from someone else how to rejoice in light or want to live, or to love our parents or guardians. It is the same – perhaps even more so – with our love for God: it does not come by another’s teaching.”


On Money and Giving

“When someone steals another's clothes, we call them a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor. Thus, however many are those whom you could have provided for, so many are those whom you wrong.”

“When I go into the house of one of these tasteless newly rich individuals, and see it bedecked with every imaginable hue, I know that this person possesses nothing more valuable than what is on display; such people decorate inanimate objects, but fail to beautify the soul.”

“Care for the needy requires the expenditure of wealth: when all share alike, disbursing their possessions among themselves, they each receive a small portion for their individual needs. Thus, those who love their neighbor as themselves possess nothing more than their neighbor; yet surely, you seem to have great possessions! How else can this be, but that you have preferred your own enjoyment to the consolation of the many? For the more you abound in wealth, the more you lack in love.”

“You showed no mercy; it will not be shown to you. You opened not your house; you will be expelled from the Kingdom. You gave not your bread; you will not receive eternal life

“After they have squandered their wealth among so many pursuits, if there is any left over, they hide it in the ground and guard it deep within the earth. “For the future,” they say, “is always uncertain; therefore let us take care, lest some unforeseen need should arise.” Yet while it is uncertain whether you will have need of this buried gold, the losses you incur from your inhuman behavior are not at all uncertain”

“For if we all took only what was necessary to satisfy our own needs, giving the rest to those who lack, no one would be rich, no one would be poor, and no one would be in need.”

“Had you clothed the naked, had you given your bread to the hungry, had your door been open to every stranger, had you been a parent to the orphan, had you made the suffering of every helpless person your own, what money would you have left, the loss of which to grieve?”

“What then will you answer the Judge? You gorgeously array your walls, but do not clothe your fellow human being; you adorn horses, but turn away from the shameful plight of your brother or sister; you allow grain to rot in your barns, but do not feed those who are starving; you hide gold in the earth, but ignore the oppressed!”

“But wealth is necessary for rearing children,' someone will say. This is a specious excuse for greed; although you speak as though children were your concern, you betray the inclinations of your own heart. Do not impute guilt to the guiltless! They have their own Master who cares for their needs. They received their being from God, and God will provide what they need to live. Was the command found in the Gospel, 'If you wish to be perfect, sell your possessions and give the money to the poor,' not written for the married? After seeking the blessing of children from the Lord, and being found worthy to become parents, did you at once add the following, 'Give me children, that I may disobey your commandments; give me children, that I might not attain the Kingdom of Heaven?”

“After all, what is the use of wealth? Do you wish to wrap yourself in fine apparel? Surely two lengths of cloth are sufficient for a coat, while the covering of a single garment fulfills every need with regard to clothing. Or would you spend your wealth on food? A loaf of bread is enough to fill your stomach. Why then do you grieve? Of what have you been deprived? Of the glory that derives from wealth? Had you not sought glory from the dirt, you would have discovered the true glory like a shining beacon leading you to the Kingdom of Heaven. Nonetheless, having wealth is dear to you, though you gain from it no advantage whatsoever. And the futility of chasing after what is worthless is obvious to everyone.”


On Nature

“I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to you the clear remembrance of the Creator. If you see the grass of the fields, think of human nature, and remember the comparison of the wise Isaiah. “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.”


On Speaking

“Words are truly the image of the soul.”


On Suffering

“For the bodily sufferings and outward distresses have been invented to halt sin.”


On Thankfulness

“Preserve gratitude like a precious deposit within your soul, and from it you will receive a double portion of delight. Remember the apostolic word, "Give thanks in all circumstances.” 

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