Church Fathers, Day One Hundred Twenty-One: St. Basil tells us to learn contentment from the fish

Church Fathers, Day One Hundred Twenty-One: St. Basil tells us to learn contentment from the fish November 19, 2014

st_basilLearn contentment from the fish

Fish follow the order of nature, says St. Basil, and no one has to tell them to do it. We should learn from the fish to be happy with the place God has given us, and not break God’s laws to take what belongs to others.

How is it that each sort of fish, content with the region that has been assigned to it, never travels over its own limits to pass into foreign seas? No sur­veyor has ever distributed to them their habitations, or enclosed them in walls, or assigned limits to them; each kind has been naturally assigned its own home. One gulf nourishes one kind of fish, another other sorts; those that swarm here are absent elsewhere. No mountain raises its sharp peaks between them; no rivers bar the passage to them; it is a law of nature, which according to the needs of each kind, has allotted to them their dwelling places with equality and justice.

It is not so with us. Why? Because we incessantly move the ancient land­marks which our fathers have set. We encroach, we add house to house, field to field, to enrich ourselves at the expense of our neighbor.

A fish does not resist God’s law, and we humans cannot endure his precepts of salvation! Do not despise fish because they are dumb and completely unreason­ing; rather be afraid that, in your resistance to the disposition of the Creator, you might have even less reason than they have.

St. Basil, Hexameron, 7.3


Have I been tempted to take what doesn’t really belong to me just because it’s easy to get?


Lord, remember me and free me from error, so that I may rejoice in the gifts you have given me.

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