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"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; all is vanity." 

But some man will ask - "If all things are vanity, wherefore were they made? If they are God's works, how are they vain?" But it is not the works of God the Preacher means.  God forbid. The heavens is not vain, with all its hosts of planets; not the earth with all its fruits and flowers. These are all "very good." Let us then hearken to the Preacher again. "I planted me vineyards," he saith; "I got me singing men and singing women; I made me pools of water; I had flocks and herds; I gathered me gold and silver; and I saw that these are vanity." So are splendid buildings, vast and overflowing riches, herds of slaves, pomp and vainglory. All these things are vain because they have no spiritual end.

Where is now the splendour of the palace? Where their brilliancy lamps and torches, the feast of joyous assemblies? Where are the crowns and magnificent ornaments? Where are the flattering reports and the acclamations and the adulation of thousands of spectators? All have passed away. The wind by one blast has swept the leaves and now they show to us a dead tree, torn from its roots, so violent has been the tempest. It lies a broken ruin.

Where are the pretended friends, the swarms of parasites, the tables charged with luxury, the wine circulated through entire days? Where are the various refinements of feasting, the supple language of slaves? What has become of them all? A dream of the night which vanishes with the day, a flower of spring which fades in the summer, a shade which passes, a bubble of water which bursts, a spider's web which is torn down.

Vanity of vanities; all is vanity. Inscribe these words on your walls, on your vestments, on your palaces, on your streets, on your windows, on your doors; inscribe them on your consciences, in order that they may represent them incessantly to your thoughts. Repeat them in the morning, repeat them in the evening and, in the assemblies of fashion, let each repeat to his neighbors, "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity."

St. John Chrysostom








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