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Mystic Treatises

Isaac of Nineveh: Mystic Treatises (XVIII)

Trad. A. J. Wensinck

segunda-feira 18 de outubro de 2021, por Cardoso de Castro




One day I went to the cell of a holy brother   and lay down in a corner as I was ill, expecting that he would visit me for God  ’s sake. There was nobody in that country (whom I knew). I had seen this brother several times at night, as he stood, a long time ago. He usually woke for the service earlier than any of the brethren. Then he would begin with Psalms and would recite them diligently. Then, of a sudden, he would leave the service, fall on his face, and beat, so to speak a hundred times, with his head on the earth violently and quickly, on account of the fervour which grace had kindled in his heart. Thereupon he would rise and salute the cross. Then again he prostrated himself, rose, saluted the cross and again fell down on his face. This he repeated so many times that I was not able to count them. Who could have counted the many kneelings which that brother performed these nights?

He would also approach the cross and kiss it twenty times, full of reverence and of fervour, in love mingled with fear; thereafter he continued his reciting of Psalms. From time to time, when he was no longer able to bear that flame of joy, he was suddenly overwhelmed by frequent currents of deliberations, which kindled him with their fervour; and he would elevate his voice because he could not restrain himself.

And I was astonished at the grace which was with that brother and I wondered at his zeal and alacrity in the works of God.

After the morning service, when he sat down for recitation, he was like one in the state of rapture. At every verse he recited he would fall on his face several times; and at many of the words he would stretch his hands towards heaven and utter the glorification several times.

He was a man of middle age, nearly forty years old. He ate but little; his temperament was dry and hot. And because he compelled himself, when his body could not bear it, he looked like a shadow from time to time, so that one pitied him on account of his thin face, which was vanishing and becoming as small as two fingers. Several times I said to him: moderate this strict rule of behaviour, my brother, and this beautiful way which thou treadest and do not disorder nor break thy rule as a spiritual chain, out of desire to add a small quantity of works with the result that thy whole course will be brought to a close. Eat moderately, but eat regularly. And make not thy way too long for thy strength, lest thou shouldst have to desist from it wholly.

Further he was compassionate and very bashful, he was glad to show compassion. He was honest by nature and easily persuaded, and prudent in God. Because of his honesty and joyous disposition he was liked by every one and they all loved him. He worked with all the brethren in day in their cells, when they had any, now for three, now for four days; every evening he returned to his own cell, till the work of the brother was finished. He was very well   skilled in this work.

If he possessed any thing, and one of the brethren begged him to give it him, he gave it him even though he was in great need of it. He was very sensitive before all sorts of persons and was not able to say: I have not, or: I want it myself. And that he regularly left his cell to work with the brethren, was because of his sensitiveness before others; so he compelled himself, although not inclined to go out. And several times he spoke to me about his aversion to leave his cell. This was the divine behaviour of that wonderful brother.

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