Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Without the proper wedding garment

The impact of sloth on the soul is often neglected and its significance minimized.  St. Isaac the Syrian warns that without harsh tribulations of the flesh it is difficult for the untrained youth to be held under the yoke of sanctification.  We must be willing to take upon ourselves the cross of the pursuit of virtue before sharing in its glory.  Whenever the soul becomes heedless of the labors of virtue, he is inevitably drawn to what is opposed to them and thus becomes deprived of God's help and so subject to alien spirits.  Every man who before training in cross completely and pursues the sweetness and glory of the cross out of sloth and for its own sweetness, has wrath come upon him.  He lacks the proper wedding garment - the healing of the infirmity of his thoughts by patient endurance of the labor that belongs to the shame of the cross.  A man whose mind is polluted with the passions of dishonor and rushes to imagine with his mind and ascend to the divine vision, is put to silence by divine punishment.  "And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’"

The things of God, it is said, come of themselves, without one's being aware of it.  Yes, but only if the place is clean and not defiled.  If the pupil of your soul's eye is not pure, do not venture to gaze at the orb of the sun, lest you be deprived of your sight - which is simple faith, humility, confession from the heart, and your small labors according to your capacity - and lest you be cast aside in a lone region of the noetic world (which is the 'outer darkness,' outside God, a figure of perdition) like that man who shamelessly entered in the wedding feast with unclean garments.

St. Isaac the Syrian

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