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Smaller Detail of A-67 St Isaac Icon with him writing Above all things love silence

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Saint Isaac the Syrian and his Writings

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Photios Kontoglou on St. Isaac

Let us extol this humble wildflower of Syria, this gold-spangled fountain of immortality, this salt of the earth, this honeybee of virtue, this gold-stringed lute which ravishes the heart, this divinely-fashioned intellect, this glory of the Orient, this tremendous ocean, this enchanted light shining to unfathomed depths, this blessed child of God . . . because the Holy Spirit speaks through Isaac’s mouth, the words of this thrice-blessed saint are matchless in their beauty and are fired with a divine spark. That is why, even though he writes so much, he makes a holy silence come to rest within our spirit, just as if there were no one speaking, but we only heard the distant echoing of a sea hidden from our sight.

Ascetical Homilies, Encomium, pp. 45 & 46

From the Foreword

Embrace this holy book tightly in your bosom. Put it over your heart. Touch it to your forehead and eyes for a blessing. Kiss it reverently with tears, and thank our God and Benefactor that it has come down to us from antiquity throughout the ages, being preserved for our edification and instruction.

Ascetical Homilies, Foreword, p. 44

A St. Isaac Sampler

Be peaceful within yourself, and heaven and earth will be at peace with you. Be diligent to enter into the treasury that is within you, and you will see the treasury of Heaven: for these are one and the same, and with one entry you will behold them both. Ascetical Homilies, p. 121

If you should beseech God for a thing and He forbears to hearken to you speedily, do not grieve, for you are not wiser than God. p. 136

Blessed is the man who knows his own weakness, because this knowledge becomes to him the foundation, root, and beginning of all goodness. p. 185

On that day God will not judge us about psalmody, nor for the neglect of prayer, but because by abandoning them we have opened our door to the demons. p. 276

That which leads the gifts of God to a man is a heart that is continually moved to thanksgiving; that which leads trials to the soul is a murmuring disposition always active in the heart. God bears with all the weaknesses of men, but He will not suffer to leave without chastisement a man who murmurs continually. p. 363

As a handful of sand thrown into the great sea, so are the sins of all flesh in comparison with the mind of God. p. 379

Prayer is necessary for acquiring the love of God, because from prayer we discover the causes for loving God. p. 445

What is a merciful heart? It is the heart’s burning for the sake of the entire creation, for men, for birds, for animals, for demons, and for every created thing; and at the recollection and sight of them, the eyes of a merciful man pour forth abundant tears. From the strong and vehement mercy that grips his heart and from his great compassion, his heart is humbled and he cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in creation. For this reason he offers up prayers with tears continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm him, that they be protected and receive mercy. And in like manner he even prays for the family of reptiles, because of the great compassion that burns without measure in his heart in the likeness of God. p. 491

This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits. p. 513

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