March 28, 2019
We picked up this evening with homily 54. Isaac begins by discussing the impact of memories and recollections on both virtue and vice. Meditation upon virtue helps to transform the imagination. Likewise meditating upon the lives of the Saints and the vision of them that comes through contemplation sets one’s heart to pursue God with a greater zeal.
We must be aware of the fact that both angels and demons can manifest themselves to us; either to draw us on onward in the pursuit of virtue or to lead us into error or fear. Thus, we must learn to discern what is appropriate to meditate upon. When love is rooted in God, the well-spring of living water is unfailing. It for this reason that Isaac warns us not to become mechanical in our approach to prayer. We must trust in God’s providential love especially in the act of prayer - never calculating or controlling things. A good sign of this is peace and freedom in mind and heart. Confusion and turmoil come from the evil one.
March 21, 2019
Tonight we continued following Isaac’s explication of the nature of faith in Homilies 52 and 53; how it brings us to a knowledge of God that transcends the senses and all worldly knowledge that comes through the intellect. He writes, “all the saints who have been found worthy to attain to this spiritual discipline, which is awestruck wonder of God, pass their lives by the power of faith in the delight of that discipline which is above nature.” The Comforter shows us the power that dwells within us at every moment and consumes with fire every part of the soul. Thus we are led into all truth - to comprehend God as He is in Himself. Faith then illuminates all things and leads the soul to stretch forth her thoughts and long for that which the eyes of the body see not.
We come to experience the certainty of faith that is not merely a confession of dogmatic beliefs but rather the union established with Christ through baptism and through obedience to His commandments. When we learn to be constantly alert and foster within true contrition, we come to walk the path trodden by the saints and to taste the peace of the kingdom.
March 15, 2019
We continued our consideration of homily 52 where St Isaac describes for us the various degrees of knowledge. Tonight he discussed the second degree of knowledge. The person begins to turn away from the merely sensual and by the love of the soul begins to turn toward God through the ascetical life, i.e., the practices of fasting, prayer, mercy, reading of the Scriptures, and the battle with the passions. The Holy Spirit perfects this work and this action and so lays the foundation for greater purity of heart and opens up a path to the reception of faith.
The third third degree of knowledge that St. Isaac describes refines what has been acquired through the action of the spirit and the ascetical life: the soul stretches towards God and through the gift of faith comes to experience and taste the hidden mysteries of the kingdom and the depths of the unfathomable sea of God’s love.