Philokalia Ministries
The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian - Homily Seventy-four Part IV and Homily 75 Part I

The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian - Homily Seventy-four Part IV and Homily 75 Part I

November 24, 2020

Isaac certainly presents us with solid food. We’ve come to the end of homily 74. Isaac begins to describe for us the image of a heart that is truly dead to the world and how it perceives the mode of life of the new man. In other words, a life free from the ego and from the drive of the passions takes on the New Adam and begins to share in the fullness of the life of resurrection.  One begin to contemplate the revelation of the Divine. In this sense of the desert Fathers become for us a mirror; in it we see whether or not we have died to the things of this world and our attachments to the world and perceive the true beauty of the life that is held before us. If we stop for a moment and think about spending the day in silence, we see that our heart and our thoughts flit about as moths  around a light. We are easily distracted.

In homily 75, Isaac lays out before us a practice of prayer that may be unfamiliar to most - keeping vigil in prayer during the night. Isaac begins by offering us a prayer to be said at the beginning of such a time. We are to call out to God to shelter us from our common enemy, to free us from the distractions of our passions in order that we might enter into the sacred Liturgy with strength and clarity.  Filled with grace, one sheds tears that purify the mind and the heart and allow us to love with tranquility and with the true freedom of chastity. One begins the liturgy without turmoil and filled with joy.

Issac speaks of the freedom that exists even within the prescribed practices. One might stand praying the psalms and yet the Spirit might lift the individual into a deep silence where time passes swiftly. It is then that one must give way to the guidance of the Spirit to be led in accord with the will of God and drawn swiftly to His Heart as He desires.

The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian - Homily Sixty-two Part III and Homily Sixty-three Part I

The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian - Homily Sixty-two Part III and Homily Sixty-three Part I

August 8, 2019
Tonight we concluded homily 62. Saint Isaac as always with great beauty and sometimes with a poetic touch speaks to us of the importance of vigilance and diligence in the spiritual life. We must come to desire the Lord above all things; having death as the only limit of that desire. We must work until the harvest time; that is, until we come to the grave. We must never become lax in our spiritual disciplines, knowing the vulnerabilities that we have if we turn from the grace of God. Prayer is our greatest work - the pearl of great price and we must do all in our power to foster the solitude and silence that is needed for intimacy with God. We must hate our old life and the bondage of our sin in order that we might come to truly love the freedom of life in God. While we are still in this world there is time for repentance - time to turn from our sins and fill our lives with virtue and love.
 
Homily 63 speaks to us of how we rise from the grossness of the flesh, becoming ever more limpid in our response to God and refined by the action of His grace. With purity of mind and heart we must let go of all thoughts and distractions to become worthy of the revelation of his love. We must hold on to nothing - willing to forsake all for Him.
The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian - Homily Fifty-four Part II

The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian - Homily Fifty-four Part II

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.
The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian - Homily Forty-eight Part VIII

The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian - Homily Forty-eight Part VIII

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.
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