|St. Isaac of Syria|
Thanks to Christ is in our Midst for this posting appropriate to the beginning of Lent. To me it is a helpful elaboration on C.S. Lewis’s statement that “Virtue — even attempted virtue — brings light; indulgence brings fog.”
…If you cannot be still within your heart, then at least make still your tongue. If you cannot give right ordering to your thoughts, at least give right ordering to your senses. If you cannot be solitary in your mind, at least be solitary in body. If you cannot labor with your body, at least be afflicted in mind. If you cannot keep your vigil standing, keep vigil sitting on your pallet, or lying down. If you cannot fast for two days at a time, at least fast till evening. And if you cannot fast until evening, then at least keep yourself from satiety.
If you are not holy in your heart, at least be holy in body. If you do not mourn in your heart, at least cover your face with mourning. If you cannot be merciful, at least speak as though you are a sinner. If you are not a peacemaker, at least do not be a troublemaker. If you cannot be assiduous, at least consider yourself lazy. If you are not victorious, do not exalt yourself over the vanquished. If you cannot close the mouth of a man who disparages his companion, at least refrain from joining him in this.
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 time. Seek understanding, not gold. Clothe yourself with humility, not fine linen. Gain peace, not a kingdom.