October 25, 2018
Tonight we read Homily 49 of St Isaac the Syrian. St Isaac begins to introduce us to how God‘s providence works for the soul’s advancement in things spiritually; in other words, how God leads us to greater intimacy with him and contemplation of him. A man makes his way through the ascetical life towards a disdain for the things of this world. He begins to contemplate is departure from this life and this contemplation begins to create a greater longing for the things of the kingdom. Meditation upon death must become a regular part of the spiritual life. So valuable is this remembrance of death, Saint Isaac tells us, that Satan greatly abhors the thought. He wars against it; seeking to make man focus upon the riches of this world, distracting him with things that appeal to the senses.
The more a man meditates upon death the more he is filled with wonder over the vision of divine things and longs for their sweetness. Theoria is a God given grace and fruit of repentance and an upright heart. Repentance and good discipline reveals to us God‘s providence in every aspect of our life. It shows is how God seeks to free us from the bonds of this world and to draw us to himself. Stirred by divine love a man becomes awestruck with wonder and his heart longs to be taken captive. There are moments when he no longer remembers himself and the ego is set aside radically. Through theoria God begins to reveal hidden things to man; those things that cannot be understood through human nature. Blessed is the man who is kept well this good seed once it has fallen into his soul.
October 18, 2018
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.
October 11, 2018
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.
October 5, 2018
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.