Plants as a Subject for Gratitude to God

Offering Gratitude to God for the Medicinal Plants He Created

“I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that everywhere, wherever you may be, the least plant may bring to you the clear remembrance of the Creator. If you see the grass of the fields, think of human nature, and remember the comparison of the wise Isaiah. “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.”

St. Basil, Homily 5, the Hexæmeron

These are the words of St. Basil the Great, quoted from Homily 5 of the Hexæmeron. The Hexæmeron consists of nine homilies delivered by St. Basil on the first few chapters of Genesis. You can read the entire Hexæmeron (and Homily 5) here.

Among many themes in St. Basil’s homily, one of them is this: Recognizing the beauty of creation should inspire us to worship God. To apply this concept to herbal medicine, we can say: practicing herbal medicine with the Christian perspective should draw us closer to our Creator.

All Plants are a Gift from God
The herbs should cause us to offer gratitude to God for His goodness

Later in the same Homily, St. Basil mentions how herbs and plants are a source of gratitude to God, and how He made all things with purpose for us.

“But not a single thing has been created without reason, not a single thing is useless. One serves as food to some animal; medicine has found in another a relief for one of our maladies. Thus the starling eats hemlock, its constitution rendering it insusceptible to the action of the poison. Thanks to the tenuity of the pores of its heart, the malignant juice is no sooner swallowed than it is digested, before its chill can attack the vital parts. The quail, thanks to its peculiar temperament, whereby it escapes the dangerous effects, feeds on hellebore. There are even circumstances where poisons are useful to men; with mandrake doctors give us sleep; with poppy they lull violent pain. Hemlock has ere now been used to appease the rage of unruly diseases; and many times hellebore has taken away long standing disease. These plants, then, instead of making you accuse the Creator, give you a new subject for gratitude.”

St. Basil, Homily 5, the Hexæmeron

Even poisonous plants serve a purpose! It should be noted of course, that no plant — especially the toxic ones — should be used without the guidance of a skilled professional.

That being said, referring to the second quote from St. Basil, we realize that Christian herbalism unites two concepts that St. Basil mentioned — making use of God’s gift of herbs for us in the proper way, and therefore offering our gratitude and labor back to God.

This is the attitude with which we ought to practice herbalism, and this is how we make everything captive to Christ. We see God’s love and mercy in all things, and we order our lives and practices according to His intentions, in order to glorify Him.

If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for our first annual conference, taking place on August 5th, online at 2pm! With an exciting lineup of speakers and presentations, learn how your faith can transfigure your practice.

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