Forsake not Isaac. Every day one page of Abba Isaac. Not more. Isaac is the mirror. There you will behold yourself. The mirror is so that we may see if we have any shortcomings, any smudge on our face, in order to remove it, to cleanse ourselves. If there is a smudge on your face or on your eyes, in the mirror you will detect it and will remove it. In Abba Isaac you will behold your thoughts, what they are thinking. Your feet, where they are going. Your eyes, if they have light and see. There you will find many sure and unerring ways, in order to be helped. One page of Isaac a day. In the morning or at night, whatever. Suffice it that you read a page.

Elder Ieronymos, quoted in The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian, translated by the Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, 1984. ix.

I’m late mentioning this, but those interested in the Syrian Fathers may be pleased to know that Kevin Edgecomb of Biblicalia has a very helpful post outlining the various edition of Saint Isaac’s works.

For myself, I have picked up up the Ascetical Homilies again in the last couple of months. Although I may post extracts occasionally, don’t expect any particularly scholarly commentary. I am more or less following Elder Ieronymos’ advice above. I may put them aside again to read other things and then return to them again, alternating them with the Sayings of the Fathers or other early texts. For even if when I find myself arguing with Abba Isaac, his words do have a particular power.


For anyone interested in an introduction to Saint Isaac, this is a useful site.