Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Saint Basil, aka Basil of Caesarea, Saint Basil the Great NULL

Greek Bishop of Caesarea Mazaca, Influential Theologian supporting the Nicene Creed, opposed Arianism

"A good deed is never lost. He who sows courtesy, reaps friendship; he who plants kindness, gathers love; pleasure bestowed upon a grateful mind was never sterile, but generally gratitude begets reward."

"Troubles are usually the brooms and shovels that smooth the road to a good man’s fortune, of which he little dreams; and many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away hunger."

"Memory is the cabinet of imagination, the treasury of reason, the registry of conscience, and the council chamber of thought."

"He who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love."

"Just as transparent substances, when subjected to light, themselves glitter and give off light, so does the soul, illuminated by the Holy Spirit, give light to others and itself become spiritual."

"One ought not be furnished out more elaborately than needs requires, nor to be more solicitous for the body than is good for the soul."

"A woman who intentionally destroys a fetus is guilty of murder. And we do not even talk about the fine distinction as to its being completely formed or unformed."

"Do not measure your loss by itself; if you do, it will seem intolerable; but if you will take all human affairs into account you will find that some comfort is to be derived from them."

"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."

"I heard many discourses which were good for the soul, but I could not discover in the case of any one of the teachers that his life was worthy of his words."

"Just as a very little fresh water is blown away by a storm of wind and dust, in like manner the good deeds, that we think we do in this life, are overwhelmed by the multitude of evils."

"Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger."

"Let sleep itself be an exercise in piety, for such as our life and conduct have been, so also of necessity will be our dreams."

"Truly unexpected tidings make both ears tingle."

"Not the power to remember, but its’ very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence."

"The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry; the garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of him who is naked; the shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of the one who is barefoot; the money that you keep locked away is the money of the poor; the acts of charity that you do not perform are so many injustices that you commit."

"What is there astonishing in the death of a mortal? But we are grieved at his dying before his time. Are we sure that this was not his time? We do not know how to pick and choose what is good for our souls, or how to fix the limits of the life of man."

"We often find comfort in telling what is painful in actual experience."

"A woman who deliberately destroys a fetus is answerable for murder."

"All these stupendous objects are daily around us; but because they are constantly exposed to our view, they never affect our minds, so natural is it for us to admire new, rather than grand objects. Therefore the vast multitude of stars which diversify the beauty of this immense body does not call the people together; but when any change happens therein, the eyes of all are fixed upon the heavens."

"Among irrational animals the love of the offspring and of the parents for each other is extraordinary because God, who created them, compensated for the deficiency of reason by the superiority of their senses."

"Any hairsplitting distinction as to its being formed or unformed is inadmissible with us."

"As we were baptized, so we profess our belief. As we profess our belief, so also we offer praise. As then baptism has been given us by the Savior, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, so, in accordance with our baptism, we make the confession of the creed, and our doxology in accordance with our creed."

"By nature, men desire the beautiful."

"A man must require just and reasonable things if he would see the scales of obedience properly trimmed. - From orders which are improper, springs resistance which is not easily overcome."

"Do not despise the fish because they are absolutely unable to speak or to reason, but fear lest you may be even more unreasonable than they by resisting the command of the Creator. Listen to the fish, who through their actions all but utter this word: 'We set out on this long journey for the perpetuation of our species.'"

"First and foremost, the monk should own nothing in this world, but he should have as his possessions solitude of the body, modesty of bearing, a modulated tone of voice, and a well-ordered manner of speech. He should be without anxiety as to his food and drink, and should eat in silence."

"For the hopes of men have been justly called waking dreams."

"God who created us has given us the use of language, that we may reveal the plans of our heart to each other... Accordingly, since when our thought takes meaningful voice, as if carried in a ferry by our discourse, crossing the air it passes from the speaker to the hearer; and if it finds the sea calm and quiet, the discourse comes to anchor in the ears of the students as if in a tranquil harbors untroubled by storms; but if as a kind of rough upsurge the clamor of the hearers blows adversely, it will be dissolved as it is shipwrecked in the air. Therefore make it calm for the discourse through silence.... The word of truth is hard to catch"

"Has the Lord completely abandoned His Church? Has the hour then come and is the fall beginning in this way so that now the man of sin is clearly revealed, the son of perdition, who opposeth and is lifted up above all that is called God or that is worshipped?"

"Does not the gratitude of the dog put to shame any man who is ungrateful to his benefactors?"

"Examine what sort of being you are. Know your own nature, that your body is mortal but your soul is immortal, and that our life is twofold in kind. One kind is proper to the flesh, quickly passing by, while the other is akin to the soul, not admitting of circumscription. Therefore be attentive to yourself, neither remaining in mortal things as if they were eternal, nor despising eternal things as if they were passing. Look down on the flesh, for it is passing away; take care of the soul, for it is something immortal? For when the body enjoys well-being and becomes heavy through much fleshiness, the mind is necessarily inactive and slack in its proper activity; but when the soul is in good condition and through care of its own goods is raised up toward its proper greatness, following this the state of the body withers."

"He who confesses magic or sorcery shall do penance for the time of murder, and shall be treated in the same manner as he who convicts himself of this sin."

"Every evil is a sickness of soul, but virtue offers the cause of its health."

"I have learned from Jesus Christ Himself what charity is, and how we ought to practice it; for He says: "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye love one another." Never can I, therefore, please myself in the hope that I may obtain the name of a servant of Christ if I possess not a true and unfeigned charity within me."

"Liberated from the error of pagan tradition through the benevolence and loving kindness of the good God with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, I was reared from the very beginning by Christian parents. From them I learned even in babyhood the Holy Scriptures which led me to a knowledge of the truth."

"In truth, to know oneself seems to be the hardest of all things. Not only our eye, which observes external objects, does not use the sense of sight upon itself, but even our mind, which contemplates intently another's sin, is slow in the recognition of its own defects."

"It has always been more difficult for a man to keep than to get, for in the one case fortune aids, as it often assists injustice; but in the other, sense is required. - Therefore we often see a person deficient in cleverness, rise in wealth; and then, from want of sense, roll head-over-heels to the bottom."

"Matters have come to this pass: the people have left their houses of prayer and assembled in the deserts, -- a pitiable sight; women and children, old men, and men otherwise inform, wretchedly faring in the open air, amid most profuse rains and snow-storms and winds and frosts of winter; and again in summer under a scorching sun. To this they submit because they will have no part of the wicked Arian leaven."

"Marvel at the Creator's work, how the power of your soul has been bound together with the body, so that penetrating to its extremities it leads the many separate limbs and organs to one convergence and sharing of life. Examine what power from the soul is given to the flesh, what sympathy is given back to the soul by the flesh; how the body receives life from the soul, and the soul receives pain from the body. Examine where you have stored away the things you have learned; why the addition of things that have come later does not overshadow the knowledge of things retained, but without confusion you keep your memories distinct, inscribed on the directive faculty of the soul as if on a bronze slab, guarded closely. Examine how as the soul slips gradually toward the passions of the flesh its own beauty is destroyed; and how again cleansed from the shame of evil, through virtue it ascends quickly toward the likeness of the Creator."

"Men whose sense of taste is destroyed by sickness, sometimes think honey sour. A diseased eye does not see many things which do exist, and notes many things which do not exist. The same thing frequently takes place with regard to the force of words, when the critic is inferior to the writer."

"No one who is in this world will deny that evils exist. What, then, do we say? That evil is not a living and animated substance, but a condition of the soul which is opposed to virtue and which springs up In the slothful because of their falling away from good."

"On meeting this man, I heartily thanked God that by means of his visit He had comforted me in many afflictions and had through him shown me clearly your love. I seem to see in one man's disposition the zeal of all of you for the truth. He will tell you of our discourses with one another. What you ought to learn directly from me is as follows. We live in days when the overthrow of the Churches seems imminent; of this I have long been cognizant. There is no edification of the Church; no correction of error; no sympathy for the weak; no single defense of sound brethren; no remedy is found either to heal the disease which has already seized us, or as a preventive against that which we expect. Altogether the state of the Church (if I may use a plain figure though it may seem too humble an one) is like an old coat, which is always being torn and can never be restored to its original strength. At such a time, then, there is need of great effort and diligence that the Churches may in some way be benefited. It is an advantage that parts hitherto severed should be united. Union would be affected if we were willing to accommodate ourselves to the weaker, where we can do so without injury to souls?"

"Now, if you notice how the swan, putting its neck down into the deep water, brings up food for itself from below, then you will discover the wisdom of the Creator, in that He gave it a neck longer than its feet for this reason, that it might, as if lowering a sort of fishing line, procure the food hidden in the deep water."

"No one. I feel sure, is more distressed at the present condition, or, rather to speak more truly, ill condition of the Churches than your excellency; for you compare the present with the past, and take into account how great a change has come about. You are well aware that if no check is put to the swift deterioration which we are witnessing, there will soon be nothing to prevent the complete transformation of the Churches. And if the decay of the Churches seems so pitiful to me, what must-so I have often in my lonely musings reflected-be the feelings of one who has known, by experience, the old tranquility of the Churches of the Lord, and their one mind about the faith?"

"Our distresses are notorious, even though we leave them untold, for now their sound has gone out into all the world. The doctrines of the (Apostollic) Fathers are despised; apostolic traditions are set at nought; the devices of innovators are in vogue in the Churches; now men are rather contrivers of cunning systems than theologians; the wisdom of this world (Greek and Roman Philosophy) is given the place of honor and (they) have rejected the glorying of the cross. Shepherds (who follow the old ways) are banished, and in their places are introduced grievous wolves hurrying the flock of Christ. Houses of prayer have none to assemble in them; desert places are full of lamenting crowds. The elders lament when they compare the present with the past. The younger are yet more to be compassionated, for they do not know of what they have been deprived."

"Strive to attain to the greater virtues, but do not neglect the lesser ones. Do not make light of a fall even if it be the most venial of faults; rather, be quick to repair it by repentance, although many others may commit a large number of faults, slight and grievous, and remain unrepentant."

"Science which is acquired unwillingly, soon disappears; that which is instilled into the mind in a pleasant and agreeable manner, is more lasting."

"Persecution has come upon us, right honorable brethren, and persecution in the severest form. Shepherds are persecuted that their flocks may be scattered. And the worst of all is that those who are being treated ill cannot accept their sufferings in proof of their testimony, nor can the people reverence the athletes as in the army of martyrs, because the name of Christians is applied to the persecutors. The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers."

"The ambition of the unprincipled seizes upon places of authority [the bishops of Rome]; and the chief seat [the seat of the Pope] is now openly proposed as a reward for impiety; so that he whose blasphemies are the more shocking, is more eligible for the oversight of the people.[The Pope] Priestly gravity has perished; there are none left to feed the Lord's flock with knowledge; ambitious men are ever spending, in purposes of self-indulgence and bribery, possessions which they hold in trust for the poor. The accurate observation of the canons (The traditions of the fathers) are no more; there is no restraint upon sin. Unbelievers laugh at what they see, and the weak are unsettled; faith is doubtful, ignorance is poured over their souls, because the adulterators of the word in wickedness imitate the truth. Religious people keep silence, but every blaspheming tongue is let loose. Sacred things are profaned; those of the laity who are sound in faith avoid the places of worship, as schools of impiety, and raise their hands in solitude with groans and tears to the Lord in heaven."