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Tonight we continued our reading of Saint Isaac the Syrian’s Homily number 48. After having spoken about fraternal correction and having divine love as the standard that we follow, Isaac turns his thoughts to allowing the heart to be overcome by fervor for God. We must develop a longing for the age to come and a deep hope for heaven. 
 
The one who longs for heaven keeps before his mind’s eye the thought of death. We do not live for this world but we are citizens of heaven - those sharing a dignity and destiny that God alone has made possible -  to share in the fullness of divine life and love. 
 
Our longing for God leads us to watch for him at every moment, to make our life itself become prayer. Christ is the pearl of great price and we should be willing to let go of all things in order to pursue and possess him. We should cherish the solitude in which God speaks to us in the language of silence and where he is comprehended by the vision of faith. 
 
God is the eternal rock upon which we find stability and security. He is the cornerstone that holds our lives together.
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We continued our discussion of homily 48, in particular St. Isaac’s reflection upon fraternal correction. So often our understanding of such correction involves a spirit of vengeance and the desire to humiliate another or to take retribution. Can we say, though, that our attempts at fraternal correction are like that of God’s?  It is the Cross that leads us to repentance - that reveals the depth of our sin and the depth of God’s love. Do we correct through showing others greater love, by making ourselves more vulnerable and more generous towards them?

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Tonight we continued with our reading of homily 48 of Saint Isaac the Syrian. It is both beautiful and challenging. Isaac begins by comparing humility and conceit and how God will chastise the soul to bring healing - opening our eyes to the poverty of pride. 
 
Isaac uses this as a prelude to speaking to us about fraternal correction. We must always approach others not from the position of power but rather humbly and with the desire only to heal. We must never shame someone publicly or offend against love.  Behind all things must be the remembrance of God that guides and directs our actions and reminds us of the dignity of the other.
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We picked up this evening with homily 47 where Saint Isaac continues to discuss the distinction between natural knowledge and spiritual knowledge. Natural knowledge provides us with the ability to distinguish between good and evil. When we foster this knowledge and embrace it, repentance is born in the heart and we turn more more fully away from our sin toward God. It is then that we can receive the gift of faith through which we obtain spiritual knowledge. Such faith gives rise to the vision of the divine. We see more fully our identity in Christ and the life He has made possible for us. What is laborious and toilsome then becomes light and easy because we are no longer driven by fear or sorrow alone but by love. 
 
In Homily 48, St. Isaac begins to take us through various aspects of the spiritual life starting with the necessity of humility in all things. It reaches its perfection when we see our weakness and poverty fully.
 
Along with humility we must foster a spirit of gratitude; avoiding the murmuring disposition that arises when we lose sight of God’s mercy and love. When suffering or when faced with evil we must not lose sight of the fact that God is the Lord of Love and the Governor of History. All things are in His hands despite the evil that so often manifests itself within the world and even the Church.
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Tonight we concluded Homily 46. St.  Isaac again expresses the centrality of the holy Eucharist in giving us the strength to live and love as Christ desires. It is through the love that we receive at his hand that we are transformed. In Christ, the sinful, the sick and the hopeless find the desire for holiness, healing and trust in the promise of the Kingdom. 
 
In Homily 47 St Isaac begins to discuss the distinction between natural and spiritual knowledge. We have all been gifted with the capacity to discern between good and evil. This natural knowledge, pursued and fostered, prepares us to receive the gift of faith and so the knowledge of God. If neglected however we will find ourselves impoverished, less than what we are to be as human beings; more like animals than those who have been made sons and daughters of God. We must live in a constant state of repentance, allowing it to draw us back to God and to the full measure of our humanity. Only then can we be raised up to share in the fullness of the life of God and experience the hope of eternity.
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Tonight we began reading homily 46 of St Isaac the Syrian’s Ascetical Homilies. We come to a beautiful passage in his writing that speaks to us about where our strength comes to live the life that we’ve been called to as Christians. Isaac begins by discussing the purification of the eyes of the soul. It is through these eyes that we are able to behold the hidden glory of God concealed in the nature of things as well as to behold the glory of His holy nature. Isaac ties this to the importance of repentance. We must ever be seeking out the mercy of God in order that we might grow in His grace.  It is upon this path of repentance that we are brought to paradise, which is the love of God. What Adam lost through disobedience and pride we can regain through obedience and humility.  So long as we remain attached to our sin our time in this world will be one of great labor and strife. Love however frees us from labor and toil for it raises us up into the very life of God. This union with God comes through receiving He who is the Bread of Life. It is at the altar and when nourished upon the bread of angels that we are made strong.

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Where do we truly live our lives? Are we completely focused upon Christ and the life that he has made possible for us? Do we seek to protect the precious gift that we have in his love and the virtues that we are called to manifest in our lives? 
 
In homily 45, St. Isaac warns his brother not to tempt him away from the solitude of the desert and the stillness of his cell. The virtues won in the spiritual battle and in the Ascetical life are not to be held so cheaply or put to the test.  This homily and the value that St. Isaac places on protecting one’s virtue should make us look hard at our own lives and ask ourselves if we cherish that which endures unto eternal life. 
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Tonight we read homily 44 of St. Isaac the Syrian on Stillness. Isaac speaks of the value of stillness and the unwillingness an anchorite should have to sacrifice it. No dishonor or honor should lead a monk away from the silence. No natural bond or act of charity should tempt the one called by God to it to free himself from the charge. God alone can ask for such absolute love and commitment. The monk embraces the solitude not for himself or because of any whim or natural inclination but rather to obey God’s call him to serve the church in such a fashion.  He does not despise association with men but rather loves stillness because God set it before him as the path to salvation. 
 
Such a writing calls us all to reflect upon our lives and the depth of our commitment to God. It confronts us with the gospel and it’s truth in an unvarnished fashion. It is nothing less than unsettling and one must listen with faith. If we do not find it disturbing, then we have to ask ourselves if we have ever heard the gospel in its fullness. In whatever vocation we find ourselves, God wants our hearts completely and absolute fidelity.
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Tonight we were able to read homily 43 in its entirety. St. Isaac describes the various modes of discipline in the spiritual life - the purification of the body and senses, the purification of the soul (which is freedom from secret passions) and finally the purification of the mind or the nous which comes from God‘s revelation of himself to us and raising us up to Divine visions.  The third mode draws us into what he describes as hypostatic Theoria, where an individual begins to experience the limpid purity of his primordial nature as one created for God and union with God. In this experience one becomes awestruck with wonder at God; tasting what will be experienced in all of its fullness in existence after the resurrection.  Such a state carries with it no sorrow or attachment to the things of the world. If we only knew the depths of God’s blessings we would long to experience that intimate union with him now and always.   
 
We must remind ourselves that Christian mysticism is distinctive and unique.  It comes about not through altering the consciousness through asceticism or meditation but through God’s revelation of Himself and raising us up by His grace as a prelude to beholding Him with mediation unto the ages of ages.
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Tonight we concluded Homily number 42 of St. Isaac the Syrian which focuses on the trials and afflictions that come both to the humble and the proud. Saint Isaac makes the distinction between the two and the fruit that each produces. Afflictions in those who are humble produce the fruit of patience. Whereas afflictions in those who are proud awaken the need for repentance. In many ways it is a deeply challenging Homily; so much so that St. Isaac feels compelled to say at the end “do not be angry with me that I tell you the truth. You have never sought out humility with your whole soul.”  Our tendency is to look at affliction, temptations and trials in a punitive fashion; Whereas the Fathers seek to help us understand the medicinal and healing nature of such things and to see in them the promise of joy and ultimately deification.

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