August 27, 2018
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.
August 16, 2018
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.
August 13, 2018
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.
August 2, 2018
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.