Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness.
If our state were really happy, we should not need to take our minds off it in order to make ourselves happy.
Contradiction is not a sign of falsity, nor the lack of contradiction a sign of truth.
Let us imagine a number of men in chains, and all condemned to death, where some are slaughtered each day in the sight of the others, and those who remain see their own fate in that of their fellows, and wait their turn, looking at each other sorrowfully and without hope. It is an image of the condition of men.
Justice and truth are too such subtle points that our tools are too blunt to touch them accurately.
We must learn our limits. We are all something but none of us are everything.
Do you want it always to cost me the blood of my humanity while you do not even shed a tear?
We must sit by these rivers, not under or in them, but above, not standing upright, but sitting down, so that we remain humble by sitting, and safe by remaining above.
Even those who write against fame wish for the fame of having written well, and those who read their works desire the fame of having read them.
There is internal war in man between reason and the passions. If he had only reason without passions ... If he had only passions without reason ... But having both, he cannot be without strife, being unable to be at peace with the one without being at war with the other. Thus he is always divided against, and opposed to himself.
We do not display greatness by going to one extreme, but in touching both at once, and filling all the intervening space.
There are some who see clearly that man has no other enemy but concupiscence, which turns him away from God, and not [human] enemies, no other good but God, and not a rich land.
We show greatness, not by being at one extreme, but by touching both at once and occupying all the space in between.
If we look at our work immediately after completing it, we are still too involved; if too long afterwards, we cannot pick up the thread again.
The virtue of a man ought to be measured not by his extraordinary exertions, but by his every-day conduct.
Everything that is written merely to please the author is worthless.
Immateriality of the soul. When philosophers have subdued their passions, what material substance has managed to achieve this?
The motions of Grace, the hardness of heart; external circumstances.
To make a man a saint, it must indeed be by grace; and whoever doubts this does not know what a saint is, or a man.
Jesus Christ and St Paul possess the order of charity, not of the mind, for they wished to humble, not to teach.
We are only falsehood, duplicity, contradiction; we both conceal and disguise ourselves from ourselves.
Do not be astonished to see simple people believing without argument. God makes them love him and hate themselves. He inclines their hearts to believe. We shall never believe, with an effective belief and faith, unless God inclines our hearts.
The parts of the universe . . . all are connected with each other in such a way that I think it to be impossible to understand any one without the whole.
In each action we must look beyond the action at our past, present, and future state, and at others whom it affects, and see the relations of all those things. And then we shall be very cautious.
Let us weigh up the gain and the loss involved in calling heads that God exists. Let us assess the two cases: if you win you win everything, if you lose you lose nothing. Do not hesitate then; wager that he does exist.
Chance gives rise to thoughts, and chance removes them; no art can keep or acquire them.
Small minds are concerned with the extraordinary, great minds with the ordinary.
Nothing strengthens the case for scepticism more than the fact that there are people who are not sceptics. If they all were, they would be wrong.
Continuous eloquence wearies. Grandeur must be abandoned to be appreciated. Continuity in everything is unpleasant. Cold is agreeable, that we may get warm.
Our intellect holds the same position in the world of thought as our body occupies in the expanse of nature.
We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.
God is or He is not. But to which side shall we incline? Let us weigh the gain and the lose in wagering that God is. Let us estimate the two changes. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, lose nothing. Wager then without any hesitation that He is.
When we see a natural style, we are astonished and delighted; for we expected to see an author, and we find a man.
If all men knew what others say of them, there would not be four friends in the world.
Man is neither angel nor beast, and it is unfortunately the case that anyone trying to act the angel acts the beast.
The brutes do not admire each other. A horse does not admire his companion. Not that there is no rivalry between them in a race, but that is of no consequence; for, when in the stable, the heaviest and most ill-formed does not give up his oats to another as men would have others do to them. Their virtue is satisfied with itself.
Happiness can be found neither in ourselves nor in external things, but in God and in ourselves as united to him.
Merely according to reason, nothing is just in itself, everything shifts with time. Custom is the whole of equity for the sole reason that it is accepted.
Faith is different from proof; the latter is human, the former is a Gift from God.
There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.
Reason never wholly overcomes imagination, while the contrary is quite common.
There is some pleasure in being on board a ship battered by storms when one is certain of not perishing. The persecutions buffeting the Church are like this.
Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.
Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it with religious conviction.