Syrian Monk, Bishop, Theologian and Ascetic Hermit
Saint Isaac of Nineveh, also Isaac the Syrian, Isaac of Qatar and Isaac Syrus
Syrian Monk, Bishop, Theologian and Ascetic Hermit
The ark of Noah was built in the time of peace, and its timbers were planted by him a hundred years beforehand. In the time of wrath the evil man perished, but the ark became the shelter for the righteous.
There is nothing which even Satan fears so much as prayer that is offered during vigilance at night. And even if it is offered with distraction, it does not return empty, unless perhaps that which is asked for is unsuitable.
When we want to speak of passions collectively, we call them the world; when we want to distinguish them according to their different names, we call them the passions.
The carnal man fears death like a beast fears slaughter. The rational man fears the judgment of God. But the man who has become a son is adorned by love and is not taught by the rod of fear; he says, 'But I and my father's house will serve the Lord.'
This is the fruit of humility. And once a person has become humble, straightaway mercy encircles and embraces him; and once mercy has approached, immediately his heart becomes aware of God helping him. Then his heart is filled with faith, and from this he understands that prayer is the haven of help, the fountain of salvation, a treasury of assurance, a saving anchor in time of storm, a source of recovery at times of sickness, a staff for the weak, a shelter in time of trials, an illumination to those in darkness. [paraphrased]
When you approach your bed, say to it, 'This very night, perchance, you will be my tomb, O bed; for I know not whether tonight instead of a transient sleep, the eternal sleep of death will be mine.' And so, as long as you have feet, run after work, before you are bound with that bond which cannot be loosed again once it is put on.
The ladder to the Kingdom is hidden within you, and within your soul. Dive down into yourself, away from sin, and there you will find the steps by which you can ascend.
This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits.
When you fall down before God in prayer, become in your thought like an ant, like the creeping things of the earth, like a leech, and like a tiny lisping child. Do not say anything before Him with knowledge, but with a child's manner of thought draw near to God and walk before Him, that you may be counted worthy of that paternal providence which fathers have for their small children.
The Lord's Day is a mystery of the knowledge of the truth that is not received by flesh and blood, and it transcends speculations. In this age there is no eighth day, nor is there a true Sabbath. For he who said that `God rested on the seventh day,' signified the rest [of our nature] from the course of this life, since the grave is also of a bodily nature and belongs to this world. Six days are accomplished in the husbandry of life by means of keeping the commandments; the seventh is spent entirely in the grave; and the eighth is the departure from it.
Through the toil of prayer and the anguish of your heart commune with those who are grieved at heart; and the Source of mercy will be opened up to your petitions.
Whenever in your path you find unchanging peace, beware: you are very far from the divine paths trodden by the weary feet of the saints. For as long as you are journeying in the way to the city of the Kingdom and are drawing near the city of God, this will be a sign for you: the strength of the temptations that you encounter. And the nearer you draw close and progress, the more temptations will multiply against you.
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.