Isaac of Nineveh


Whenever I run into this quote I simply cannot resist posting it:

“Let yourself be persecuted, but do not persecute others.
Be crucified, but do not crucify others.
Be slandered, but do not slander others.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep: such is the sign of purity.
Suffer with the sick.
Be afflicted with sinners.
Exult with those who repent.
Be the friend of all, but in your spirit remain alone. Be a partaker of the sufferings of all, but keep your body distant from all.
Rebuke no one, revile no one, not even those who live very wickedly.
Spread your cloak over those who fall into sin, each and every one, and shield them.
And if you cannot take the fault on yourself and accept punishment in their place,
do not destroy their character.
What is a merciful heart? It is a heart on fire for the whole of creation, for humanity, for the birds, for the animals, for demons, and for all that exists. By the recollection of them the eyes of a merciful person pour forth tears in abundance. By the strong and vehement mercy that grips such a person’s heart, and by such great compassion, the heart is humbled and one cannot bear to hear or to see any injury or slight sorrow in any in creation. For this reason, such a person offers up tearful prayer continually even for irrational beasts, for the enemies of the truth, and for those who harm her or him, that they be protected and receive mercy.”

Is this the kind of mercy Jesus describes or is it ‘over the top?’

“God is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”

Maybe this is the Third Way.

6 thoughts on “Isaac of Nineveh

  1. Over the top.
    I don’t think it is biblical. Sounds very “Mom.” It is my life experience that those who yield to sin become immune to the wrong they are wreaking. They may even be righteous about their sin, asserting their right to it.
    Jesus didn’t put up with this. He called a spade a spade, with love, but with clear distinctions. Yes, dear, I don’t condemn you, but “go and sin no more” to the woman caught in adultery. To the pompous and self-important men of the Sanhedrin, he slapped them around a little. He called the a brood of vipers, hypocrites! He was prepared to slap a man in love to shock them out of their sinful delusions. He knew that what was important was the salvation of their soul, not the delicacy of their feelings.
    So, Neo, where did you get this quote? From an Agent? From Wormwood?

  2. He did get it From St. Isaac, Morpheus. In fact, patristic writings are quite loaded with this sort of thing. And it is biblical — didn’t our Lord say “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” as He was crucified by them? Didn’t he have compassion on the thief at the cross?

    The thing is, it is mercy both in that suffering, and in his ability to tell people what they needed to hear to grow closer to God.

    “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.– Psalm 51(50)”

  3. Morpheus,
    What do you mean by ‘mom?’ Tearful prayers and humble hearts are not smarmy or wimpy. It takes guts to take on the sins of others, does it not? It takes guts to be responsible for another’s misdoings. Isaac is not denying sin, he is asking for compassion for sinners.

  4. I don’t disagree with either of you. I have deep compassion for all sinners, but I’m railing against this becoming coddling of sin. Men are emasculated by this tactic. You can be compassionate and kick their butts. It is more compassionately effective, though not subtle. Anger and strong reaction against sin can exist with love and compassion. That should be Dad-ly. Mom-ly is in the direction of compassion without accountability. I’m not being sexist here, I’m just aware of the excesses to which an attitude of compassion without judgement has gone in our time.

  5. “What one thing do you need to do to be saved?” he said.

    I looked at my priest, a little surprised. This wasn’t the sort of question one usually hears from an Orthodox priest.

    “What?” I said.

    “One thing. That is all. Have you ever read the beginning of Matthew 7?”

    “Yes,” I said.

    “Well, there you go,” he said. ” ‘Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.’ — there you go. If you never judge another a sinner, neither shall you be judged. It’s right there.”

    Not easy, nor exactly comforting, but very interesting. He explained a great deal more following this, but it certainly gave me great pause. If you wanted to here more of it, I believe I could find you a link to the podcast of that discussion during a study of Matthew last year.

    When does considering coddling cease being forgiving seven times seven, and when does it become judgment of the sinner?

    Morpheus, you probably are surprised to hear me say these things; as you know, I naturally think more like what you’ve expressed above… but I have started to pause more and question myself, too. It is a fine fine line to walk.

    I even brought up a question with my priest, “Well, aren’t we allowed to judge the sin even though not the sinner?” (a common way of putting it I had often heard before my conversion to Orthodoxy).

    His opinion was that that idea was something the Church Fathers wouldn’t have found very Christlike. I was dumbstruck. Perhaps I do need to go find that link…

    Okay, I believe this is it, the study on Matthew 3-7.

    If that isn’t it, the links to the other podcasts of the study of Matthew are all found on this page.

  6. The day I can “judge” others the way Jesus did then I guess I can start judging. But…until that day comes, I better reserve my actions to “judge not, lest I be judged.” There are all knds of ways to usurp God’s perogatives. Jesus condescended to empty Himself of them and become a human being. I must empty myself of my delusions of grandeur about being god and just be human, fully human. That’s what Jesus would do if He were me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *