Isaac the Syrian: God’s affection for the repentant sinner Sunday, Dec 15 2013 

Isaac the Syrian 3Those, in whom the light of faith truly shines, never reach such unashamedness as to ask God: “Give us this,” or — “Remove from us this.”

Because their spiritual eyes — with which they were blessed by that genuine Father, Who with His great love, countlessly transcends any fatherly love — continually view the Father’s Providence, they are not concerned in the slightest about themselves.

God can do more than anyone else, and can assist us by a far greater measure than we could ever ask for, or even imagine.

[…] Not having distinctly experienced God’s patronage, the heart is in no condition to commune with Christ.

A person cannot acquire a reliance on God if, prior to this, he hasn’t fulfilled His will according to one’s own strength.

Because hope in God and fortitude is born from witness of the conscience (in God): and only with genuine witness of our mind (in God) can we have trust in Him.

God demands not only the fulfillment of the commandments but also — more importantly — reformation of the soul, which is the reason why the commandments were given.

The body participates equally in good as well as bad deeds, and reason, by its behavior, becomes either righteous or sinful, judging by its disposition.

Life in this temporary world is akin to writing letters on a tablet. Everyone, when he wants to, can add or delete words on it or rearrange the letters.

But the future life is akin to a manuscript, written on a clean sheet, on which it is forbidden to add or delete and stamped with the king’s seal. That’s why while we are in this inconstant world, let us be attentive to ourselves.

And while we have authority over the earthly manuscript, on which we write with our own hand, let us endeavor to make good additions from a righteous life, and delete on it all the failings of our past actions.

This is because while we are in this world, God does not affix His stamp — neither to the virtuous nor to the evil — up to the hour of our leaving this life.

When in remembering his sins a person punishes himself, God looks upon him with affection. God is pleased that for turning away from His path, the individual has conferred punishment upon himself — this serves as a sign of genuine repentance.

And the harder the sinner compels himself, the greater the increase in God’s affection for him.

Isaac the Syrian (c. 630-c. 700): Selections from the Homilies @ Orthodox Photos.

Isaac the Syrian: Glory to Jesus Christ who brings us the sweetness of health by stringent medicines! Saturday, Feb 16 2013 

Isaac the Syrian 3God allows His saints to be tried by every sorrow, then to experience anew and prove His aid, and to understand how great a providence He has for them, for in their perils He is found to be their Redeemer.

[…] If a man is not first tried by the experience of evils, he has no taste for the good. Hence when in evils he meets with that which is good, he will be unable in knowledge and freedom to make use of it as being his very own.

How sweet is knowledge that is gained from actual experience and diligent training, and what power it gives to the man who through much experience has found it within himself, the same is known by those who have been assured of and have seen the help it affords them.

Then they learn the weakness of their nature and the help of Divine power, when God first withholds His power from them while they are amid temptations.

Thus He makes them conscious of their nature’s impotence, the arduousness of temptations, and the cunning of the enemy.

Thus he gives them to understand against whom they must wrestle, what kind of nature they are clothed with, how they are protected by divine power, how far they have advanced on the way, to what height God’s power has raised them up, and how powerless they are before the face of every passion when the divine power is withdrawn from them.

Through all these things they acquire humility, cleave closely to God, look for His help with expectation, and persevere in prayer.

[…] The diligent are tried, that they might add to their riches, the lax are tried, that they might guard themselves from what is harmful; the sleepy are tried, that they might be armed with wakefulness, those afar off are tried, that they might draw nearer to God; those who are God’s own are tried, that with boldness they might enter into His house.

The son who is not trained will receive no profit from the riches of his father’s house. For this reason, then, God first tries and afflicts, and thereafter reveals His gift. Glory to our Master Jesus Christ Who brings us the sweetness of health by stringent medicines!

There is no man who will not feel oppressed at the time of training, nor any who will not find the time bitter wherein he is given the medicine of trails to drink. Without temptations a man cannot acquire a strong constitution, yet to endure with patience is not within our power.

For how should the clay vessel endure the vehemence of the waters, if the divine fire had not hardened it?

Isaac the Syrian (c. 630-c. 700): Homily 61; longer text @ Kandylaki.

Isaac the Syrian: What wisdom Is God’s! And how filled with life! Tuesday, Dec 11 2012 

Isaac the Syrian 3If zeal had been appropriate for putting humanity right, why did God the Word clothe Himself in the body in order to bring the world back to His Father using gentleness and humility?

And why was He stretched out on the Cross for the sake of sinners, handing over His sacred body to suffering on behalf of the world?

I myself say that God did all this for no other reason, except to make known to the world the love that He has, His aim being that we, as a result of our greater love arising from an awareness of this, might be captivated by His love when He provided the occasion of this manifestation of the kingdom of heaven’s mighty power – which consists in love – by means of the death of His Son.

[…] [The Incarnation and the death on the Cross happened] not to redeem us from sins, or for any other reason, but solely in order that the world might become aware of the love which God has for His creation.

Had all this astounding affair taken place solely for the purpose of forgiveness of sin, it would have been sufficient to redeem us by some other means.

What objection would there have been if He had done what He did by means of an ordinary death?

But He did not make His death at all an ordinary one – in order that you might realize the nature of this mystery.

Rather, He tasted death in the cruel suffering of the Cross.

What need was there for the outrage done to Him and the spitting?

Just death would have been sufficient for our redemption – and in particular His death, without any of these other things which took place.

What wisdom is God’s! And how filled with life!

Now you can understand and realize why the coming of our Lord took place with all the events that followed it, even to the extent of His telling the purpose quite clearly out of His own holy mouth:

“To such an extent did God love the world that He gave His only-begotten Son” – referring to the Incarnation and the renewal He brought about.

[…] When the entire extent of creation had abandoned and forgotten God and had perfected themselves in every kind of wickedness…He came down to their abode and lived among them in their body just as one of them, and with a love exalted beyond knowledge or description by any created being,

He begged them to turn back to Himself, showing them concerning the glorious establishment of the world to come, having intended before all worlds to introduce felicity such as this for creation.

Isaac the Syrian (c. 630 – c. 700): Quoted in Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: The Incarnation of the Word and the deification of man according to St Isaac of Nineveh.

Isaac the Syrian: By the death of His Only-Begotten Son He made us near to Himself Thursday, Nov 22 2012 

Isaac the Syrian 3God the Lord surrendered His own Son to death on the Cross for the fervent love of creation…

This was not, however, because He could not redeem us in another way, but so that His surpassing love, manifested hereby, might be a teacher unto us.

And by the death of His Only-begotten Son He made us near to Himself.

Yea, if He had had anything more precious, He would have given it to us, so that by it our race might be His own.

Because of His great love for us it was not His pleasure to do violence to our freedom, although He is able to do so, but He chose that we should draw near to Him by the love of our understanding.

For the sake of His love for us and obedience to His Father, Christ joyfully took upon Himself insult and sorrow…

In like manner, when the saints become perfect, they all attain to this perfection, and by the superabundant outpouring of their love and compassion upon all men they resemble God.

[…] Creation could not look upon Him unless He took part of it to Himself and thus conversed with it, and neither could it hear the words of His mouth face to face.

The sons of Israel were not even able to hear His voice when He spoke with them from the cloud…

The sons of Israel made ready and prepared themselves, keeping themselves chaste for three days according to the command of Moses, that they might be made worthy of hearing the voice of God, and of the vision of His revelation.

And when the time was come, they could not receive the vision of His light and the fierceness of the voice of His thunder.

But now, when He poured out His grace upon the world through His own coming, He has descended not in an earthquake, not in a fire, not in a terrible and mighty sound, but “as the rain upon a fleece, and rain-drops that fall upon the earth” softly, and He was seen conversing with us after another fashion.

This came to pass when, as though in a treasury, He concealed His majesty with the veil of His flesh, and among us spoke with us in that body which His own bidding wrought for Him out of the womb of the Virgin.

Isaac the Syrian (c. 630-c. 700): Quoted in Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: The Incarnation of the Word and the deification of man according to St Isaac of Nineveh.

Isaac the Syrian: The scourge of Love Friday, Nov 2 2012 

Isaac the Syrian 3In the future age…one will not receive from another the revelation of God’s glory unto the gladness and joy of his soul.

But to each by himself the Master will give according to the measure of his excellence and his worthiness, and he will not receive the gift from his comrade as he does here.

[…] For one is the Giver there, Who gives without mediation to those who receive; and those who win joy, procure it from Him.

For they do not perceive Him through diverse intellections, but by direct revelation of Him, without departing from Him through thoughts.

There the order of those who teach and those who learn ceases, and on One alone hangs the ardent love of all.

I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna are scourged by the scourge of love.

Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love?

I mean that those who have become conscious that they have sinned against love suffer greater torment from this than from any fear of punishment.

For the sorrow caused in the heart by sin against love is more poignant than any torment.

It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God.

Love is the offspring of knowledge of the truth which, as is commonly confessed, is given to all.

The power of love works in two ways. It torments sinners, even as happens here when a friend suffers from a friend.

But it becomes a source of joy for those who have observed its duties.

Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret.

But love inebriates the souls of the sons of Heaven by its delectability.

Someone was asked, “When will a man know that he has received the remission of his sins?”

He answered, “When in his soul he becomes conscious that he has completely hated them with his whole heart, and when he governs himself in his external actions in a manner opposed to his former way of life.”

Such a man, as having already hated his sin, is confident that he has received remission of his sins by reason of the good witness of his conscience which he has acquired, after the saying of the Apostle, “A conscience uncondemned is a witness of itself” (Cf. Rom. 2:15).

And may we also gain remission of our sins by the grace and love for man of the unoriginate Father with His only‑begotten Son and the Holy Spirit, to Whom be glory unto the ages of ages.

Isaac the Syrian (c. 630-c. 700): Homily 28, from The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian, tr. Dana Miller (Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, Mass. 1984) @ Fr Luke Dysinger, OSB.

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