31   Thwarted by necessity

“If you say that everything happens by necessity, you have no grounds for complaint against someone who says that everything does not happen by necessity; for you are saying that what the person is doing itself happens by necessity.”

Vatican Sayings 40


30   How not to be a friend

“A person who is for ever looking for help is not a friend, nor is a person who never makes contact; for the former barters reciprocity for favours, while the latter cuts short hopefulness about the future.”

Vatican Sayings 39


29   Life is to be valued and respected

“It is degrading for a person to hold that there are many sensible reasons for committing suicide.”

Vatican Sayings 38


28   Good and bad have natural consequences

“Nature is weak with the bad, not with the good; for it is preserved by pleasures but destroyed by pains.”

Vatican Sayings 37


27   Always wanting something else

“We must not spoil things we have by wanting things we do not have, but realize that among things we wished for are things we have now.”

Vatican Sayings 35


26   Friendship and trust

“We do not need help from friends so much as the sense of assurance that they will help.”

Vatican Sayings 34


25   Pleasure in the fulfilment of simple needs

“The body asks not to be hungry, not to be thirsty, not to be cold; and someone who has these things and expects to have them could compete even with Zeus for happiness.”

Vatican Sayings 33


24   It is good to show respect for wisdom

“Those who revere a wise person are beneficiaries of this reverence.”

Vatican Sayings 32


23   We are never completely safe

“Against other things it is possible to make ourselves secure, but when it comes to death we human beings all inhabit a city without walls.”

Vatican Sayings 31


22   Misdirected energy

“Some people spend their lives making preparations for life, not seeing that the potion poured out for all of us at birth is a mortal one.”

Vatican Sayings 30


21   Better to be misunderstood than to dilute the message

“To be frank, in explaining nature I would rather deliver oracles about what is to everyone’s advantage, even if no one were to understand, than agree with popular opinions and enjoy receiving the constant praise of the majority.”

Vatican Sayings 29


20   The delicate art of making friends

“We should not approve of those who are quick to enter into friendship, nor of those who are reluctant; but one does need to venture favour for the favour of friendship.”

Vatican Sayings 28


19   Philosophy: rewarding and enjoyable

“With other pursuits the fruit comes when after much effort they have been completed, but with philosophy the pleasure accompanies the investigation; for enjoyment does not come after learning but learning and enjoyment occur together.”

Vatican Sayings 27


18   Long and short explanations

“It must be understood that both the long discourse and the short statement have the same intention.”

Vatican Sayings 26


17   Poverty and wealth

“Poverty measured by the goal of nature is great wealth; wealth without limits is great poverty.”

Vatican Sayings 25


16   Dreams are a natural phenomenon

“Dreams do not have allotted to them a divine nature or prophetic power, but occur through the impact of emanations.”

Vatican Sayings 24


15   Friendship and self-interest

“All friendship is a good thing in itself, but it has its origin in utility.”

Vatican Sayings 23


14   The line between pushing and persuading

“Nature is not to be pressed but to be satisfied; and we will satisfy nature by fulfilling necessary desires, and (other) natural desires if they do not cause harm, and by rigorously rejecting harmful desires.”

Vatican Sayings 21


13   Aged by attitude

“A person forgetful of the good things that have happened has today grown old.”

Vatican Sayings 19


12   Love and propinquity

“As opportunities to see, associate with and live with another are taken away, the emotion of love becomes attenuated.”

Vatican Sayings 18


11   Age and happiness

“A young person is not the one to be pronounced happy but an old person who has lived a good life. For the young person in the flower of youth roves about distracted by chance events; but the old person has come to anchor in old age as in a harbour, having locked in by a firm sense of gratitude good things which one could scarcely hope for previously.”

Vatican Sayings 17


10   Taking the bait

“No one seeing what is bad chooses it, but a person gets caught when lured by the bait that it is good compared with what is worse.”

Vatican Sayings 16


9   Respecting others as we respect ourselves

“We value our characters as we value our own possessions, whether they are good and admired by others or not; similarly we should also respect the characters of our neighbours, if they are fair and reasonable people.”

Vatican Sayings 15


8   Find time today to be joyful

“We are born once, and it is not possible to be born twice. We will necessarily have no further existence for eternity. Although you do not have mastery over tomorrow, you put off being joyful. Life is wasted by procrastination, and every one of us dies without finding time for leisure.”

Vatican Sayings 14


7   Veering between numbness and madness

“Most people are numb when they are quiet and raving mad when they are active.”

Vatican Sayings 11


6   Philosophical insight

“Remember that, although you are mortal by nature and your time is limited, you have progressed in discussions about nature to questions of infinity and eternity and you have understood ‘things that are and things that will be and things that have been before.’”

Vatican Sayings 10


5   How necessary is necessity?

“Necessity is bad, but there is no necessity to live with necessity.”

Vatican Sayings 9


4   Rightly anxious about doing wrong

“It is difficult for a person who does the wrong thing to escape notice, and impossible to be sure of escaping notice.”

Vatican Sayings 7


3   Recognizing the limits of pain

“Every physical pain can readily be regarded as being of limited consequence. For one that is intensely painful lasts a short time, and one that affects the body for a long time is mildly painful.”

Vatican Sayings 4


2   Social and psychological stability

“Those who have the ability to arrange things so as to be confident, especially with regard to those who live round about, can then with the greatest assurance live very pleasantly with one another, and having enjoyed meaningful experiences to the fullest they do not mourn over the death of one who dies before they do, as if there were need to feel pity.”

Principal Doctrines 40


1   Responding thoughtfully in complex circumstances

“Where there is a lack of confidence with respect to outside influences, the person who handles the situation best builds rapport where possible and where not possible at least avoids polarization, and if unable to achieve this much stands back and supports whatever in these options is productive.”

Principal Doctrines 39


Headings are linked (or are to be linked) to related blog posts, where comments can be submitted. The translations are open to revision on textual or other grounds. At some points the interpretation is provisional.

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