Saint Isaac of Nineveh, also Isaac the Syrian, Isaac of Qatar and Isaac Syrus

Saint Isaac of Nineveh, also Isaac the Syrian, Isaac of Qatar and Isaac Syrus
Early 7th Century
c. 700

Syrian Monk, Bishop, Theologian and Ascetic Hermit

Author Quotes

The man who chooses to consider God an avenger, presuming that in this manner he bears witness to His justice, accuses Him of being bereft of goodness. Far be it that vengeance could ever be found in that Fountain of love and Ocean brimming with goodness! The aim of His design is the correction of men; and if it were not that, we should be stripped of the honor of our free will. Perhaps He would not even heal us by reproof.

To bear a grudge and pray, means to sow seed on the sea and expect a harvest.

Whenever you wish to make a beginning in some good work, first prepare yourself for the temptations that will come upon you, and do not doubt the truth.

The man who endures accusations against himself with humility has arrived at perfection. He is marveled at by the holy angels, for there is no other virtue so great and so hard to achieve.

To choose what is good belongs to the good will of the man who desires it; but to accomplish the choice of this good will belongs to God.

Who does not love a humble and meek man? Only proud men and slanderers, who are foreign to his work.

The man who is deemed worthy to see himself is greater than he who is deemed worthy to see the angels.

Truly, confusion should be called (if permissible) the chariot of the devil, because Satan is always eager to mount upon it as a charioteer, and bearing with him the throng of the passions, he invades the wretched soul and plunges her into the pit of confusion.

Why do you increase your bonds? Take hold of your life before your light grows dark and you seek help and do not find it. This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits.

Poor innocent little creatures (to animals bound for slaughter): if you were reasoning beings and could speak you would curse us. For we are the cause of your death, and what have you done to deserve it?

The more a man's tongue flees verbosity, the more his intellect is illumined so as to be able to discern deep thoughts; for the rational intellect is befuddled by verbosity.

Until we find love, our labor is in the land of tares, and in the midst of tares we both sow and reap, even if our seed is the seed of righteousness.

Why do you trouble yourself in a house that is not your own? Let the sight of a dead man be a teacher for you concerning your departure from hence.

Prayer offered up at night possesses a great power, more so than the prayer of the day-time. Therefore all the righteous prayed during the night, while combating the heaviness of the body and the sweetness of sleep and repelling bodily nature.

The only way that a man who wishes to be wise in the eyes of God can do so is to become a fool to the world and a despiser of human glory.

Walk before God in simplicity and not with knowledge. Simplicity is accompanied by faith; but subtle and intricate deliberations, by conceit; and conceit is accompanied by separation from God.

Works and deeds gain passionlessness for the soul . . . and give quietness from thoughts when we acquire silence . . . Otherwise success is not possible. For if a tree is watered every day, can its root wither? Does water ever get less in a vessel if more is added daily? But when a man gains silence, his soul readily discerns passions, and the inner man, roused to spiritual work, overcomes them and, from day to day, lifts the soul nearer to purity.

Silence cuts off pretexts and causes for new thoughts, while within one’s walls it withers and wilts memories of things which used to concern us. When the old matters wither in the thought, the mind, in setting them aright, returns to its proper dignity.

The passions are like dogs accustomed to lick blood in butchers' shops. When these are barred from what their habit feeds on, they stand in front of the doors and howl until the force of their previous custom is spent.

We should not be exceedingly grieved when we make a slip in some matter, but only if we persist in it; for even the perfect often slip, but to persist therein is total death.

Worldly glory is a reef in the sea covered by water; for as this lies unknown to the sailor until his vessel strikes it, cracks up, is filled with water and sinks, so vain glory does to a man until it drowns and destroys him.

Silence is a mystery of the age to come, but words are instruments of this world.

The path of God is a daily cross. No one has ascended into Heaven by means of ease, for we know where the way of ease leads and how it ends.

What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation. For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner such a person prays for the family of reptiles because of the great compassion that burns without measure in a heart that is in the likeness of God.

Spiritual delight is not enjoyment found in things that exist s outside the soul.

Author Picture
First Name
Saint Isaac of Nineveh, also Isaac the Syrian, Isaac of Qatar and Isaac Syrus
Birth Date
Early 7th Century
Death Date
c. 700

Syrian Monk, Bishop, Theologian and Ascetic Hermit