Favourite Quotations

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

“That’s what is was to be young — to be enthusiastic rather than envious about the good work other people could do.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

“Yes, my heart is happy here (I must admit though, for those who do not know me well, that I am always happy wherever I am and that I find the people I am with at the present moment always the most beautiful.” – Jean Vanier

“And were my faith so strong that it could move mountains, that is the mountain that I would make come to me.” — Isak Dinesen

“For the sake of a single poem, you must see many cities, many people and Things, you must understand animals, must feel how birds fly, and know the gesture which small flowers make when they open in the morning. You must be able to think back to streets in unknown neighborhoods, to unexpected encounters, and to partings you had long seen coming; to days of childhood whose mystery is still unexplained, to parents whom you had to hurt when they brought in a joy and you didn’t pick it up (it was a joy meant for somebody else); to childhood illnesses that began so strangely with so many profound and difficult transformations, to days in quiet restrained rooms and to mornings by the sea, to the sea itself, to seas, but it is still not enough to be able to think of all that. You must have memories of many nights of love, each one different from all the others, memories of women screaming in labor, and of light, pale, sleeping girls who have just given birth and are closing again. But you must also have been beside the dying, must have sat beside the dead in the room with the open windows and the scattered noises. And it is not yet enough to have memories. You must be able to forget them when they are many, and you must have the immense patience to wait until they return. For the memories themselves are not important. Only when they have changed into our very blood, into glance and gesture, and are nameless, no longer to be distinguished from ourselves only then can it happen that in some very rare hour the first word of a poem arises in their midst and goes forth from them.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

“God has given to men all that is necessary for them to accomplish their destinies. He has provided a social form as well as a human form. And these social organs of persons are so constituted that they will develop themselves harmoniously in the clean air of liberty. Away, then, with quacks and organizers! A way with their rings, chains, hooks, and pincers! Away with their artificial systems! Away with the whims of governmental administrators, their socialized projects, their centralization, their tariffs, their government schools, their state religions, their free credit, their bank monopolies, their regulations, their restrictions, their equalization by taxation, and their pious moralizations! And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.” – Frederic Bastiat

“I said that no party held the privilege of dictating to me how I should vote. That if party loyalty was a form of patriotism, I was no patriot, and that I didn’t think I was much of a patriot anyway, for oftener than otherwise what the general body of Americans regarded as the patriotic course was not in accordance with my views; that if there was any valuable difference between being an American and a monarchist it lay in the theory that the American could decide for himself what is patriotic and what isn’t; whereas the king could dictate the monarchist’s patriotism for him—a decision which was final and must be accepted by the victim; that in my belief I was the only person in the sixty millions—with Congress and the Administration back of the sixty million—who was privileged to construct my patriotism for me.

They said ‘Suppose the country is entering upon a war—where do you stand then? Do you arrogate to yourself the privilege of going your own way in the matter, in the face of the nation?’

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘that is my position. If I thought it an unrighteous war I would say so. If I were invited to shoulder a musket in that cause and march under that flag, I would decline. I would not voluntarily march under this country’s flag, nor any other, when it was my private judgment that the country was in the wrong. If the country obliged me to shoulder the musket I could not help myself, but I would never volunteer. To volunteer would be the act of a traitor to myself, and consequently traitor to my country. If I refused to volunteer, I should be called a traitor, I am well aware of that—but that would not make me a traitor. The unanimous vote of the sixty millions could not make me a traitor. I should still be a patriot, and, in my opinion, the only one in the whole country.'” – Mark Twain

“Some absolutely want to make me a party man and I am not; I am given passions and I have only opinions, or rather I have only one passion, the love of liberty and human dignity. In my view, all governmental forms are only more or less perfect means to satisfy that holy and legitimate passion of men. I am given alternately democratic or aristocratic prejudices; I would perhaps have had one or the other, if I had been born in another century and in another country. But the chance of my birth has made it very easy for me to defend myself from both. I came into the world at the end of a long Revolution that, after destroying the old state, had created nothing lasting. The aristocracy was already dead when I was born, and democracy did not yet exist; so my instinct could not carry me blindly toward either the one or the other. I lived in a country that for forty years had tried a bit of everything without settling definitively on anything, so I wasn’t easily influenced regarding political illusions. As part of the old aristocracy of my country myself, I had neither hatred nor natural jealousy against the aristocracy, and since this aristocracy was destroyed, I did not have any natural love for it either, for we are strongly attached only to what is alive. I was close enough to it to know it well, far enough away to judge it without passion. I will say as much about the democratic element. No family memory, no personal interest gave me a natural and necessary inclination toward democracy. But as for me, I had received no injury from it; I had no particular reason to love it or to hate it, apart from those provided by my reason. In a word, I was in such good equilibrium between the past and the future that I felt naturally and instinctively drawn to neither the one nor the other, and it did not take great efforts for me to look calmly at both sides.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, in a letter to Henry Reeve

“I dreamt that the Virgin Mary, Hannah [Arendt], and I were running, laughing, exhilarated before the ocean, running fast, falling in the sand, laughing at ourselves as women taking on the problems of the world with the gift of our innocence. How wonderful to have found the two of you!” – Alexandra Newton Rios

“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made anything, from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old, before the earth was made […] I was with him, forming all things, and was delighted every day, playing before him at all times, playing in the world, and my delights were to be with the children of men.” – Wisdom 8

“Let me be the thinking hearts of these barracks.” – Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life

“Our little systems have their day; They have their day and cease to be; They are but broken lights of thee, And thou, O Lord, art more than they.” – Tennyson, “In Memoriam A.H.H.”

“…the masks or roles which the world assigns us, and which we must accept and even acquire if we are to take part in the world’s play at all, are exchangeable; they are not inalienable in the sense in which we speak of ‘inalienable rights’…” – Hannah Arendt

“The beginning of love is truth, and before He will give us His love, God must cleanse our souls of the lies that are in them. And the most effective way of detaching us from ourselves is to make us detest ourselves as we have made ourselves by sin, in order that we may love Him reflected in our souls as He has re-made them by His love.

This is the meaning of the contemplative life, and the sense of all the apparently meaningless little rules and observances and fasts and obediences and penances and humiliations and labors that go to make up the routine of existence in a contemplative monastery: they all serve to remind us of what we are and Who God is – that we may get sick of the sight of ourselves and turn to Him: and in the end, we will find Him in ourselves, in our own purified natures which have become the mirror of His tremendous Goodness and of His endless love…” – Thomas Merton

“And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!”
– “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” by Rudyard Kipling

“The Church is only perfectly pure under one aspect; when considered as guardian of the sacraments. What is perfect is not the Church; it is the body and blood of Christ upon the altars.” – Simone Weil, Letter to a Priest

“I could never conceive or tolerate any Utopia which did not leave to me the
liberty for which I chiefly care, the liberty to bind myself. Complete anarchy
would not merely make it impossible to have any discipline or fidelity; it would
also make it impossible to have any fun. To take an obvious instance, it would
not be worth while to bet if a bet were not binding. The dissolution of all
contracts would not only ruin morality but spoil sport. Now betting and such
sports are only the stunted and twisted shapes of the original instinct of man
for adventure and romance, of which much has been said in these pages. And the
perils, rewards, punishments, and fulfilments of an adventure must be real, or
the adventure is only a shifting and heartless nightmare. If I bet I must be
made to pay, or there is no poetry in betting. If I challenge I must be made to
fight, or there is no poetry in challenging. If I vow to be faithful I must be
cursed when I am unfaithful, or there is no fun in vowing.” – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

“Both the meditative ways, that of being and that of becoming, lead back to the same goal: the meditating person to God and therewith the understanding person to insight into the essence of the human person, who can be characterized by his openness to a transcendent being, by his being a frontier between the world, with its being and becoming, and a superworld. There person is, as we have said, the point of intersection between divine eternity and human temporality; in the person finitude is revealed as the essence of the world. The person is the experience of the limits demarcating world-immanent finiteness from the transcendent infinite.” – Eric Voegelin, Miscellaneous Papers, 1921-1938.

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
– Walt Whitman

“We are Christian, and we are German, therefore we are responsible for Germany.” – Sophie and Hans Scholl

“Thinking for yourself is good for you.” – Gershom Scholem

“I’m completely against [feminism]. I have no desire to give up my privileges.” – Hannah Arendt

“The demonstrable correlation of opposites is an image of the transcendental correlation of contradictories.” – Simone Weil

“To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind; indeed the necessary effects of the ignorance and levity of the vulgar. Such complaints and humours have existed in all times; yet as all times have not been alike, true political sagacity manifests itself in distinguishing that complaint which only characterizes the general infirmity of human nature, from those which are symptoms of the particular distemperature of our own air and season.” – Edmund Burke, “Thoughts On The Cause Of The Present Discontents”

“The length of a biography ought to be dictated by the greatness of the deeds recorded in it. Thousand-page accounts of minor politicians are the greatest offence against literature – especially when written by politicians themselves.” – Roger Scruton, On Hunting

“And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.” – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy“Sometimes I long for a convent cell, with the sublime wisdom of centuries set out on bookshelves all along the wall and a view across the cornfields–there must be cornfields and they must wave in the breeze–and there I would immerse myself in the wisdom of the ages and in myself. Then I might perhaps find peace and clarity. But that would be no great feat. It is right here, in this very place, in the here and the now, that I must find them.” ― Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life“Mine was not an enlightened mind, I was now aware: it was a Gothic mind, medieval in its temper and structure. I did not love cold harmony and perfect regularity of organization; what I sought was variety, mystery, tradition, the venerable, the awful.” – Russell Kirk”The primary, radical meaning of the word life is made clear when it is used in the sense of biography and not of biology. And this is true for the very good reason that any biology, in the end, is only a chapter in certain biographies, whatever biologists do in the course of their biography. Any other notion is abstraction, fantasy, myth.” – Ortega y Gasset, Revolt of the Masses

“…we are creatures designed for contemplation as well as action…” – Edmund Burke

“A child is a gift of God. If you do not want him, give him to me.” – Mother Teresa

“Man cannot be free if he does not know that he is subject to necessity, because his freedom is always won in his never wholly successful attempts to liberate himself from necessity. ” ― Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

“The worship of will is the negation of will. To admire mere choice is to refuse to choose. If Mr. Bernard Shaw comes to me and says, ‘Will something’ that is tantamount to saying, ‘I do not mind what you will,’ and that is tantamount to saying, ‘I have no will in the matter.'” – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

“Let our professors also declare publicly and on their knees that freedom is
and we shall pardon them if they mutter, provided it is under
their breath: E pur è buona. (‘And yet it is good.’)” – Frédéric Bastiat, “Declaration of War Against Professors of Political Economy”

“On doctrinal points the Catholic faith places all human capacities upon the same
level; it subjects the wise and ignorant, the man of genius and the vulgar
crowd, to the details of the same creed; it imposes the same observances upon
the rich and the needy, it inflicts the same austerities upon the strong and the
weak; it listens to no compromise with mortal man, but, reducing all the human
race to the same standard, it confounds all the distinctions of society at the
foot of the same altar, even as they are confounded in the sight of God. If
Catholicism predisposes the faithful to obedience, it certainly does not prepare
them for inequality; but the contrary may be said of Protestantism, which
generally tends to make men independent more than to render them equal.
Catholicism is like an absolute monarchy; if the sovereign be removed, all the
other classes of society are more equal than in republics.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

“Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative
to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” – Edmund Burke, “Speech to the Electors at Bristol”

“The only liberty I mean is a liberty connected with order, that not only exists along with order and virtue, but which cannot exist at all without them.” – Edmund Burke”The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder.” – Adam Smith, Theory of Moral Sentiments

“The bourgeois is someone who lives in and through the good opinions of others, who thinks only of himself when he is with other people and only of other people when is by himself.” – Professor Steven B. Smith on Rousseau’s Thought

“Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.” – Fulton J. Sheen

“Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.” – Rochefoucauld

“Doesn’t the mere fact of putting something into words of itself involve an exaggeration?” – C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

“Fortis et liber” – Strong and Free – Motto of Alberta

“An essay, as I understand it, tries to push an argument to its limit, with a minimum of qualification or second thoughts, and in a mood of considerable speculative confidence. An essay presents a perspective rather than new information. Much of the argument is, therefore, allusive.” – Barry Cooper, The Restoration of Political Science and the Crisis of Modernity

“Multiple choice tests are for morons.” – Barry Cooper, POLI 310, introductory class.

“Gam zeh ya’avor” – This Too Shall Pass

“But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness, I want sin.” – Character Bernard Marx in Huxley’s “Brave New World”

“The real conflict is inner conflict. Beyond the armies of occupation and the catacombs of concentration camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves.” – St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.” – George Orwell in 1984

“There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage do what we know is morally right.” – Ronald Reagan

“Here I stand not only with the sense of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts that in this moment there is life and food for future years.” – William Wordsworth, “Lines Written a Few Miles From Tintern Abbey”

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” -Soren Kierkegaard

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

“I have found the perfect paradox that if I love until it’s hurts than there is no hurt, but rather then only more love.” Mother Teresa

“We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.” – Excerpted from Prophets of a Future Not Our Own By: Archbishop Oscar Romero

“A patient’s detriment is the practicioner’s benefit.” – Widdowson & Howard

“What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven.” – Holderlin

“Human government is derived from the Divine government, and should imitate it. Now although God is all-powerful and supremely good, nevertheless He allows certain evils to take place in the universe, which He might prevent, lest, without them, greater goods might be forfeited, or greater evils ensue. Accordingly in human government also, those who are in authority, rightly tolerate certain evils, lest certain goods be lost, or certain greater evils be incurred: thus Augustine says: ‘If you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed with lust.’ Hence, though unbelievers sin in their rites, they may be tolerated, either on account of some good that ensues therefrom, or because of some evil avoided.” – Thomas Aquinas

“See how the human soul lies weak and prostrate when it is not attached to the solid rock of truth. The winds of gossip blow from the chests of people ventilating their opinions so the soul is carried about and turned, twisted, and twisted back again. The light is obscured from it by a cloud. The truth is not perceived…. Yet look, it lies before us.” – Augustine

“For a happy life is joy in the Truth.” – Augustine

“The peace of all things is the tranquility of order.” – Augustine
“But in comparison with the ‘heaven of heaven’ even the heaven of our earth is earth.” – Augustine

“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” – 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

“Thus from the point of view of its essence and the definition of its real nature, virtue is a mean; but in respect of what is right and best, it is an extreme.” – Aristotle

“The science that studies the supreme good for man is politics.” – Aristotle

“Men cling to life even at the cost of enduring great misfortune, seeming to find in life a natural sweetness and happiness.” – Aristotle

“For this fear of death is indeed the pretence of wisdom, and not real wisdom, being the appearance of knowing the unknown; since no one knows whether death, which they in their fear apprehend to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good. Is there not here conceit of knowledge, which is a disgraceful sort of ignorance? And this is the point in which, as I think, I am superior to men in general, and in which I might perhaps fancy myself wiser than other men, – that whereas I know but little of the world below, I do not suppose that I know: but I do know that injustice and disobedience to a better, whether God or man, is evil and dishonorable, and I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil.” – Plato’s Apology of Socrates

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” -Socrates

“Just how you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything.” – Ecclesiastes 11:5


1 thought on “Favourite Quotations

  1. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26

    “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

    “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” – Galatians 5:22-23

    ” I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.” – Romans 7:15-25

    “Do not be too righteous, and do not act too wise; why should you destroy yourself? Do not be too wicked, and do not be a fool; why should you die before your time?” – Ecclesiastes 7:16-17

    “Do not answer fools according to their folly, or you will be a fool yourself. Answer fools according to their folly, or they will be wise in their own eyes.” – Proverbs 26:4-5

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