Saint Isaac of Ninevah (d. circa 700 a.d.) ON PRAYER

[This is the ? of a an ongoing series of posts featuring a saint, mystic, or writer to include some of their thoughts on prayer as well as a prayer written by or ascribed to him or her.  He frequently emphasized the place and importance of silence in personal prayer.]

Let us love silence till the world is made to die in our hearts.
Let us always remember death, and in this thought 
draw near to God in our heart–
and the pleasures of this world will have our scorn.

Do not approach the mysterious words in the scriptures 
without prayer and without asking help from God, saying: 
“Lord, grant me to perceive the power that is in them.” 
Deem prayer as the key to the insight of truth in scripture.

As a man whose head is under water cannot inhale pure air, 
so a man whose thoughts are plunged into the cares of this world 
cannot absorb the sensations of that new world.

To bear a grudge and pray, means to sow seed on the sea and expect a harvest.

A small but persistent discipline is a great force; 
for a soft drop tailing persistently, hollows out hard rock.

BONUS: A Poem by Saint Isaac of Ninevah. 

Be at peace with your own soul
then heaven & earth will be at peace with you.
Enter eagerly into the treasure
house that is within you,
And you will see the things that are in heaven,
for there is but one single entry to them both.
The ladder that leads to the Kingdom
is hidden within your soul…
Dive into yourself and in your soul
and you will discover the stairs
by which to ascend.

A Prayer Written by Saint Isaac of Ninevah 
O Name of Jesus,
key to all gifts,
open up for me the great door to your treasurehouse
so that I may enter and praise you
with the praise that comes from the heart
in return for your mercies
which I have experienced in latter days;
for you came and renewed me
with an awareness of the New World.

I give praise to your holy nature, Lord,
for you have made my nature
a sanctuary for your hiddenness
and a tabernacle for your Mysteries,
a place where you can dwell,
and a holy temple for your divinity.
— Prayer of Saint Isaac of Nineveh in “The Syriac Fathers On Prayer
and the Spiritual Life,” Cistercian Publications

[PHOTO: This is a faithful photographic reproduction of an original two-dimensional work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain  because its copyright has expired.  Once again, thanks to Wikkimedia Commoms.]


About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
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