The Shepherd, June 2008

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    “IF, as it is said, peace of mind is perfect health, and zeal is opposed to peace, then the man who has a wrong zeal is ill with a grievous disease.  Though you presume, O man, to send forth your zeal against the infirmities of other men, you have expelled the health of your own soul; be assiduous, rather, in labouring for your own soul’s health.  If you wish to heal the infirm, know that the sick are in greater need of loving care than of rebuke.  Therefore, although you do not help others, you expend labour to bring grievous illness upon yourself.  Zeal is not reckoned among men to be a form of wisdom, but as one of the illnesses of the soul, namely narrow-mindedness and deep ignorance.  The beginning of divine wisdom is clemency and gentleness, which arise from greatness of soul and the bearing of the infirmities of men.”


“JUSTICE [i.e., rectitude] does not belong to the Christian way of life and there is no mention of it in Christ’s teaching.  Rejoice with the joyous and weep with those who weep; for this is the sign of limpid purity.  Suffer with those who are ill and mourn with sinners; with those who repent, rejoice.  Be every man’s friend, but in your mind remain alone.  Rebuke no one, revile no one, not even men who live very wickedly.  Spread your cloak over the man who is falling and cover him.”


“KNOW that if fire goes forth from you and consumes other men, God will demand from your hands the souls which your fire has burned.  And if you yourself do not put forth the fire, but are in agreement with him who does, and are pleased by it, in the Judgment you will be reckoned as his accomplice.  If you love gentleness, be peaceful. If you are deemed worthy of peace, you will rejoice at all times.  Seek understanding, not gold.  Clothe yourself with humility, not fine linen.  Gain peace, not a kingdom.”


Three quotations from the Venerable Isaac the Syrian,

seventh century

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