Monday, November 4, 2013
The eyes of the soul ( Saint Isaac the Syrian )
What the bodily eyes are to sensory objects,the same is faith to the eyes of the understanding that gaze at hidden treasures.Even as we have two bodily eyes,we possess two eyes of the soul,as the Fathers say;yet both have not the same operation with respect to divine vision.With one we see the hidden Glory of God which is concealed in the natures of things;that is to say,we behold His power,His wisdom, and His eternal providence for us,which we understand from the magnitude of His governance on our behalf.With this same eye we also behold the heavenly orders of our fellow servants.With the other,we behold the glory of His Holy nature.When God is pleased to admit us to spiritual mysteries,He opens wide the sea of faith in our minds.
Repentance is given to the sons of men as grace after grace,for repentance is a second regeneration by God.That of which we have received an earnest by baptism, we receive as a gift by means of
repentance.Repentance is the door of mercy, opened to those who seek it.By this door we enter into the mercy of God, and apart from this entrance we shall not find mercy.'For all have sinned',according to divine Scripture,'being justified freely by His grace.'Repentance is the second grace and is begotten in the heart by faith and fear.
Fear is the paternal rod that guides our way until we reach the spiritual paradise of good things;and when we have attained thereto,it leaves us and turns back.
Paradise is the love of God,wherein is the enjoyment of all blessedness,and there the blessed Paul partook of supernatural nourishment.When he tasted there of the tree of life,he cried out, saying,'eye that hath not seen,nor ear heard,neither have entered into the heart of man,the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him'. Adam was barred from this tree through the devil's counsel.
The tree of life is the love of God from which Adam fell away,and thereafter he saw joy no longer,and he toiled and labored in the land of thorns.Even though they make their way in righteousness,those who are bereft of the love of God eat in their work the bread of sweat,which the first-created man was commanded to eat after his
fall.Until we find love,our labor is in the land of thorns,and in the midst of thorns we both sow and reap,even if our seed is the seed of righteousness, and in every hour we are pricked by the thorns,and
however much we render ourselves righteous,we live by the sweat of our brow.
But when we find love,we partake of heavenly bread and are made strong without labor and toil.The heavenly bread is Christ, Who came down from Heaven and gave life to the world.This is the
nourishment of the angels.The man who has found love eats and drinks Christ every day and hour and hereby is made immortal.;He that eateth of this bread,;He says,;which i will give him,shall not see death unto eternity.'Blessed is he who eats the bread of love,which is Jesus!He who eats of love eats Christ,the God over all,as John bears witness, saying,'God is love.'
Wherefore,the man who lives in love reaps life from God,and while yet in this world,he even now breathes the air of the resurrection;in this air the righteous will delight in the resurrection.Love is
the kingdom,whereof the Lord mystically promised His disciples to eat in his Kingdom.For when we hear Him say,'Ye shall eat and drink at the table of My Kingdom,;what do we suppose we shall eat,if not love?Love is sufficient to nourish a man instead of food and drink.
This is the wine that 'maketh glad the heart of man.'Blessed is he who drinks of this wine! Profligates have drunk this wine and felt shame; sinners have drunk it and have forgotten the pathways of stumbling;drunkards have drunk this wine and become fasters,the rich have drunk it and desired poverty;the poor have drunk it and been made rich with hope;the sick have drunk it and become strong;the unlearned have taken it and been made wise.
As it is not possible to cross over the great ocean without a ship,so no one can attain to love without fear.This fetid sea,which lies between us and the noetic paradise,we can cross with the boat of
repentance, whose oarsmen are those of fear.But if the oarsmen of fear do not pilot this barque of repentance wherewith we cross over the sea of this world to God,we shall be drowned in the fetid
sea.Repentance is the ship,and fear is the pilot; love is the divine haven.
Thus fear sets us in the ship of repentance, transports us over the foul sea of this life(that is,of the world),and guides us to the divine port, which is love.Hither proceed all that labor and are afflicted and heavy laden in repentance.When we attain love,we attain to God.
Our way is ended and we have passed unto the isle that lies beyond the world,where is the Father,and the Son,and the Holy Spirit,to Whom be glory and dominion,and may He make us worthy of His
glory and His love through the fear of Him.
Saint Isaac the Syrian