Thought of the day
Sunday, March 5, 2017

First Sunday of Lent

Isaac the Syrian (7th century), monk near Mosul Ascetical discourses, 1st series, no.85 “Then the devil left him”

First Sunday of Lent

Commentary of the day 

Isaac the Syrian (7th century), monk near Mosul Ascetical discourses, 1st series, no.85

                        “Then the devil left him”

Just as desire for the light follows from healthy eyes, so a desire to pray follows from fasting conducted with discernment. When someone begins to fast, he wants to commune with God in the thoughts of his heart. Indeed, the fasting body cannot endure sleeping on its bed the whole night through. When fasting has sealed a man’s lips, he carries out his meditation in a spirit of compunction: his heart prays, his face is serious, evil thoughts depart from him; he is the enemy of lust and vain conversation. Never has anyone been seen who fasts with discernment and is enslaved by evil desires. Fasting with discernment is like a great dwelling place that shelters every sort of good… 

For fasting is the command set before our nature from the beginning to keep it from eating the fruit of the tree (Gn 2:17), and it is from this that what deceives us comes forth… This is also what the Saviour began with when he was revealed to the world in the Jordan. For after baptism the Spirit led him into the desert, where he fasted forty days and forty nights. 

All who set out to follow him do the same: that is the foundation on which they set the beginning of their combat, since this weapon has been forged by God… And when the devil now sees this weapon in a man’s hand, that enemy and tyrant begins to be afraid. He thinks at once of the defeat inflicted on him by the Saviour in the desert, remembers what happened and his power is broken. He shrivels away at the sight of the weapon given us by the one who leads us into combat. What more powerful weapon is there that so revives our courage in the fight against the evil spirits?