Insights regarding the martyrs
____________________________________________________From: Metropolitan MosesDate: Friday, June 20, 2003 09:50:35 PMSubject: Insights regarding the martyrsFor the Sunday of All SaintsInsights regarding the martyrs from the Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaacthe SyrianHomily 5 Saint IsaacHe who is able to suffer wrong with joy, though having means at hand torebuff it, has [[consciously]] received from God the consolation of hisfaith. The man who endures accusations against himself with humility hasarrived at perfection, and he is marvelled at by the holy angels, for thereis no other virtue so great and so hard to achieve.Do not believe yourself to be strong, until you are tempted and findyourself superior to change. In this manner test yourself in everything.Acquire a right faith in yourself,1 so that you may trample down yourenemies; keep your mind lowly, and place no confidence in your strength,lest you be given over to the frailty of your nature, and then, from yourown fall you will learn your own weakness. Nor should you trust yourknow-ledge, lest you be found amid subtle snares and you becomeentangled.2 Have a meek tongue, and dishonour will never encounter you.Acquire sweet lips, and you will have all men as your friends. Never boastof your labours with your tongue, lest you be put to shame.3 In eachmatter about which a man boasts himself, God permits that he change, sothat he should be humbled, and learn humility. This is why you mustsurrender all things to Gods foreknowledge, and not believe that there isanything in this life unchanging.Acting in this manner, your eye will be always lifted to God. For Godsprotection and providence encircle all men, yet they are not seen except bythose who have cleansed themselves from sin and who continually keep theirattention on God, and on Him alone. But Gods providence is especiallyapparent to them when they enter into a great trial on behalf of the truth;for then they perceive it as if seeing it with their bodily eyes, each manin proportion to the magnitude of the temptation which befalls him andaccording to the cause thereof. This is the case in order that providencemight anoint its champions to have courage in this manner, as with Jacob,and Jesus of Navi, and the Three Children, and Peter, and the rest of thesaints, to whom it appeared in a human form,4 giving them confidence andconfirming them in godliness.5 But if you say that these things weregranted to the saints from God by way of oeconomy, and that it was forspecial reasons that they were deemed worthy of such visions, then let theholy martyrs be examples to encourage you. The martyrs, often manytogether, but sometimes one alone, in places both many and diverse,contested for Christs sake, and with the [[secret]] strength that came tothem they courageously endured in bodies of clay the lacerations of ironand torments of every kind, which things surpassed nature. But also, tosuch as these, the holy angels would manifestly appear, so that every manmight learn that Divine providence is very near to those who in everymanner endure both every temptation and every affliction for the Lordssake, for their encouragement and for the shaming of their enemies. Forinsomuch as the saints were roused to manliness by visions of this kind, tojust such a degree did their adversaries rage and become frenzied withwrath at their unyielding patience.6__________________________________________1 Syriac Acquire exultation [or boasting] in the faith of your heart2 Many Greek MSS read lest the enemy come into the midst and trap you inhis subtle snares.3 Instead of lest you be put to shame the Syriac reads lest, there beingnothing in creation that is free of change, your shame be rendered doublewhen you are found in the contrary [state].4 I.e. the angels sent by Gods providence.5 Syriac and consoling their faith.6 Syriac were their adversaries tormented by their unyielding patience.Homily 35The love of God is fervent3 by nature, and when beyond measure it descendsupon a man, it throws his soul into ecstasy. Therefore the heart of the manwho has felt this love cannot contain it or endure it without4 anunaccustomed change being seen in him according to the measure of love'squantity. And these are its signs: his face becomes fiery, exceedinglyjoyous, and his body becomes heated. Fear and shame withdraw from him andhe is like one deranged. The power that gathers the mind flees from him andhe is as though out of his wits.5 [[From henceforth he esteems his life asnothing in comparison with his Beloved. ]] He6 considers death a joy,though it be to him a thing most terrible. And further, the gaze of hisintellect is fixed inseparably and deliriously upon Him. Though he isdistant, he speaks with Him as one near at hand. Being hidden from sight,he muses upon His well-known hiddenness. His vision is natural, butinaccessible to sense perception. In his actions, as in his appearance, heis enflamed. He dwells in solitude, but his thinking converses, as it were,with Someone and is filled with awe.This is the spiritual passion with which the apostles and the martyrs wereinebriated. With it the first travelled the world over, toiling and beingreviled, while the second, although their members were severed, andalthough they shed their blood like water and suffered the most dreadfultorments, yet they did not grow faint-hearted but endured courageously, andbeing truly wise, were thought fools. Still others wandered in mountainsand caves and dens of the earth,7 and amid disorder they were mostwell-ordered. [[Being grave, they were unrestrained; being dispassionate,they abode in the flesh; entreating always, they were silent withoutcompulsion. ]] May God grant us also to attain to such derangement!8If, before you have entered into the city of humility, you observe inyourself that you have found rest from the importunity of the passions, donot believe it, for this is a trap of the enemy who strives to ensnare you.Nay rather, await the onslaught of great disturbance and turmoil after thisperiod of rest.For until you have passed through all the dwelling-places of the virtues,you will not find rest from your toil, nor will you have relief from theenemy's treacherous designs until you reach the abode of holy humility.O God, deem us worthy to attain this by Thy grace! Amen._________________________3 Syriac love is fervent Throughout this paragraph St. Isaac speaks bothabout love in general and the love of God in particular, describing thesecond in terms of the first.4 This is the Syriac reading.5 Syriac impetuosity and turmoil prevail upon him.6 From this point to the end of the paragraph the Syriac is rendered. TheGreek MSS have very different readings.7 Ct Heb. 11:38.8 Or madness, mindlessness. The Greek for this paragraph differsinsignificantly from the Syriac..
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