Words of Eternal Life by St Isaac the Syrian
It is a spiritual gift from God for a man to perceive his sins.
This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits.
Blessed is he who humbles himself in all things, for he will be exalted in all. For a man who for God’s sake humble himself, and thinks meanly of himself, is glorified by God…And he who goes naked for God’s sake is clad by Him in a robe of incorruption and glory. And he who becomes poor for His sake is consoled with His true riches.”
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 God and walk before Him, that you may be counted worthy of that paternal providence which fathers have for their small children.
His path has been trodden from the ages and from all generations by the cross and by death. How is it with you, that the afflictions on the path seem to you to be off the path? Do you not wish to follow the steps of the saints? Or have you plans for devising some way of your own, and of journeying therein without suffering.
The path of God is a daily cross. No one has ascended into Heaven by means of ease, for we know where the way of ease leads and how it ends.
In truth, without afflictions there is no life….God is close to the heart of the one that cries out to Him in sorrow. Even if a person is sometimes exposed to some type of physical deprivations or other sorrows, God manifests all types of compassion to the soul, commensurate to its level of suffering.
Do not avoid the sorrows, because being helped by them you learn the truth and love of God well. And do not fear the temptations for through them you discover treasures. Pray that you may not enter into spiritual temptations, while for the bodily ones, prepare to face them with all your strength, for without them you cannot approach God. Through them comes the divine rest. Whoever avoids the bodily temptations avoids virtue.
Repentance is given us 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.
God does not grant any big grace without a big temptation preceding it, for according to the severity of the temptations the graces were ordained by the wisdom of God, which however men normally do not understand. By the measure of the great sorrows that the providence of God sends you, you understand the great value that His magnanimity grants you. For according to the sorrow you experience is the consolation you will receive.
A mind that has found spiritual wisdom is like a man who finds a fully equipped ship at sea, and once he has gone aboard, it brings him from the sea of this world to the isle of the age to come. In like manner, the perception of the future age while in this world is like an islet in the ocean; and he who approaches it toils no longer amid the billows of the appearances of this age.
A swimmer dives naked into the sea until he finds a pearl; and a wise monk, stripped of everything, journeys through life until he finds in himself the Pearl, Jesus Christ; and when he finds Him, he does not seek to acquire anything else besides Him.
A lovely passage from The Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac the Syrian.
Through the intercessions of our Father among the Saints Isaac the Syrian, through the prayers of St. Mary of Egypt, of all the ascetic Fathers, Mothers and all the saints, O Lord of compassion and Peace, have mercy on us and save us!