Saturday, January 28, 2017
Saint Isaac the Syrian
As a handful of sand thrown into the ocean, so are the sins of all flesh as compared with the mind of God.
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 every created thing. At the recollection and at the sight of them such a person’s eyes overflow with tears owing to the vehemence of the compassion which grips his heart; as a result of his deep mercy his heart shrinks and cannot bear to hear or look on any injury or the slightest suffering of anything in creation. This is why he constantly offers up prayer full of tears, even for the irrational animals and for enemies of truth, even for those who harm him, so that they may be protected and find mercy.
Let yourself be persecuted,
but do not persecute others.
but do not crucify others.
but do not slander others.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
and weep with those who weep:
such is the sign of purity.
Suffer with the sick.
Be afflicted with sinners.
Exult with those who repent.
Be the friend of all,
but in your spirit remain alone.
Be a partaker of the sufferings of all,
but keep your body distant from all.
Rebuke no one,
revile no one,
not even those who live very wickedly.
Spread your cloak over those who fall into sin,
each and every one, and shield them.
And if you cannot take the fault on yourself
and accept punishment in their place,
do not destroy their character.
Those who are tormented in hell are tormented by the invasion of love. What is there more bitter and violent than the pains of love? Those who feel they have sinned against love bear in themselves a damnation much heavier than the most dreaded punishments. The suffering with which sinning against love afflicts the heart is more keenly felt than any other torment. It is absurd to assume that the sinners in hell are deprived of God’s love. Love is offered impartially. But by its very power it acts in two ways. It torments sinners, as happens here on earth when we are tormented by the presence of a friend to whom we have been unfaithful. And it gives joy to those who have been faithful. That is what the torment of hell is in my opinion: remorse. But love inebriates the souls of the sons and daughters of heaven by its delectability.