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This evening we had a rich discussion of the final three paragraphs of homily 48. St. Isaac gives us wonderful counsel in regards to our speech. We are to guard the tongue and not give free reign to anger. To constrain our speech allows us to experience compunction and to see the presence of our own impatience and lack of love. Silence breeds conversion and freedom from the passion.
 
In our relations with others we are not to focus on teaching and preaching or correcting others but rather providing for their basic and fundamental needs. Quite simply we are to love others and allow this to do our speaking for us. Good example always trumps words. Likewise negligence and laxity has a negative impact upon others. Before seeking to reform others we must reform our own hearts.
 
The freedom that has been given to us in Christ is something that must be protected and valued. Only in this way are we kept from being dragged down by anxiety or fear. Living for Christ and in Christ fills our hearts with an everlasting hope and peace.
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Continuing with homily number 48, Saint Isaac speaks to us of the essential place of asceticism in the spiritual life. We must seek in every way to allow the passions to be transformed by the grace of God and through discipline of mind and body. Only in this way will we be able to experience something of the lasting joy and peace of God and the Kingdom. Through our senses we are in a constant state of communion with and receptivity to the world around us. Yet our sin makes us vulnerable and our vision of the things of the world become distorted. Conscience becomes malformed and so good appears to be evil and evil appears to be good. Only by being dead to life in this world, that is, dead to our attachment to the things of this world and our own desires can we be free to desire and love God. Ease and idleness are the very destruction of the soul and, St. Isaac tells us, injure the soul more than demons. Through our negligence we open the door for temptations to freely enter and so we darken the soul. 

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We continued tonight with the sixth part of Saint Isaac the Syrian’s 48th homily. Isaac begins to emphasize for us once again the importance of the ascetical life, bringing order out of disorder, in opening the mind and the heart to comprehend the truths of Scripture and the mysteries in which we participate that draws us into the life of God. Without order, darkness and confusion reign in the soul. Likewise, without love of neighbor and mercy, love for God will wither. 
 
Having said this, however, Isaac wants us to understand that stillness and silence must be cultivated and given priority. It is here alone that prayer can be cultivated. Silence allows us to listen to God and be strengthened by his love. Silence can never be neglected and we should never give ourselves over to distraction or excessive activity.
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We continued our reading of homily 48 of St. Isaac the Syrian. St. Isaac begins to describe how we must set aside our past life. Above all we must seek God and to love virtue and hate sin. In our pursuit of virtue we must always guard our hearts against vain glory; attributing every good and perfect gift to God and God alone. The moment we see ourselves as the source of virtue we become like a ship crashing into the reef. Destruction is sure to follow. We must not even trust ourselves in the sorrow that we experience in the face of our sin. We must realize that such sadness can simply be rooted in our sense of shame rather than our love of God and desire for conversion. The impact of God’s grace must be all-encompassing; transforming our speech, our manner of thought, our way of life and our senses. Others must see the radical change in our countenance and our actions. As Christians we are not meant to fit into this world.

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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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