Sunday, November 08, 2009

St. Isaac's "Second Part"

Many of us are watching and hoping for the republication of The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, now long out of print. Though scheduled for late 2009, I have not heard any progress reports. In the meantime, there is this: Isaac of Ninevah (Isaac the Syrian) 'The Second Part', Chapters IV-XLI, translated by Sebastian Brock. As I understand it, there is no overlap between The Ascetical Homilies and The Second Part. Taking advantage of substantial savings and free shipping during Eighth Day Books' recent 20th anniversary sale, I finally purchased a copy. I have found the work to be a treasure, and one that I expect to be re-reading. A sampling, below:

Chapter XI

11. Thus in this way the variation between assistance and feebleness takes place for a person at all times and at all stages in the ascetic life: it may be in the battles arranged against chastity, or in the varied states of joy and of gloom; for sometimes there are luminous and joyous stirrings, but then again all at once there is darkness and cloud. Likewise with things revealed in certain mystical and divine insights concerning truth: the same variation is experienced by the person who serves (God), with the apperception of the assistance of divine power which suddenly attaches itself to the intellect--or it may be (the apperception of the opposite, where the intention is that he should receive awareness of the weakness of (human) nature, (and realize) what his own nature is, and how weak, feeble, stupid and childish it is--and then, in a single moment, to what heights he is raised in his knowledge, and in the glorious and wonderful things which he perceives in himself!

12. These are the workings of God, and these are forms of assistance employed by His Will towards humanity. But it can be the case, when we cleave to some sin in our minds or actions, that He will bid one of those inquisitors of His, mentioned above, concerning us--those who, as long as we travelled in an orderly way with (our ) will completely (directed) towards virtue, ministered to our benefits--and they will flog us harshly, so that by one means or another we will not became lost far away from God.

13. Now, however, with the assistance that comes from grace; let us conclude these matters and approach the riches of (God's) nature and the ocean of his creative power and the waves and resplendence of his Being.

No comments: