21 March 2011

Love Those Eastern Fathers

Isaac the Syrian (7th century), monk near Mosul, saint of the Orthodox churches 
Ascetical discourses, 1st series, no.81 

“Be merciful as your Father is merciful”

Don’t try to distinguish between those who are worthy and those who are not. Let all men be equal in your eyes, to be loved and served. In this way you will be able to guide all of them to good. Did not the Lord sit at table with publicans and women of disreputable life, without keeping the unworthy at a distance from him? So you also should bestow the same generosity, the same favor on the unfaithful and the ruffian, and all the more so in that he, too, is your brother since he shares the same human nature. My son, here is the commandment I give you: let mercy always tip your scales until you start to feel within yourself the mercy that God feels towards the world.

At what point does a man recognise that his heart has attained purity? When he looks on all men as good without a single one seeming impure or besmirched to him. Then, in truth, he is pure of heart (Mt 5,8)…

What is this purity? Briefly, it is compassion of heart towards the entire universe. And what is compassion of heart? It is the flame that consumes it for all creation: men, birds, creatures, demons, for every created thing. When he thinks of or looks at them, a man feels his eyes filling with tears out of a deep, intense pity, which grips his heart and makes it incapable of allowing, hearing, seeing the least wrong, the least affliction, endured by any creature. That is why prayer accompanied by tears constantly reaches out as much towards dumb creatures as to those who are enemies of the truth, or who harm it, so that they might be preserved and purified. An immense and measureless compassion is born in the man's heart, in the image of God.

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