Mystics For Advent Part Six: St. Isaac of Nineveh

After gaining a reputation as a holy man and teacher, St. Isaac was ordained bishop of Nineveh, the former capital of Assyria. After only five months he went south to the wilderness of Mount Matout where he lived in solitude studying the Scriptures and composing his Ascetical Homilies. He lived in the early 8th century.

Love’s Purpose reminds us in Advent that God is always moving toward us in love in deeply transforming ways. In this context, God’s ultimate purpose is unfolding as the cosmos moves toward “the luminous end of His dealings with us”, the consummation of all things of which Origen reminded us.

Love’s Purpose

In love did He bring the world

into being, and in love

does He guide its difficult,

slow-seeming journey now

through the arc of time. In love will He

one day bring all the world to a wondrous,

transformed state, and utterly

in love will it be taken wholly up

into the great mystery of the One

who has performed these things–and all of this so that

in love absolutely will the course

and form and governance of all creation

at long last be comprised.

Awaiting Us at Last

I am of the opinion

that the God shall of a radiant morning make

full manifest a chaste, surpassing outcome,

a matter of immense, immeasurable

compassion on the part

of the loving Creator,

even with respect to this difficult matter

of suffering, that out of it–even of

Gehenna’s bleak, abysmal torment–the infinite

wealth of His love we

will behold all the more,

and bountifully. Among all His actions,

there is none that is not entirely

a matter of mercy, love, and compassion:

these comprise the beginning

and the luminous end of His dealings with us.

St. Isaac of Nineveh is presented by poet Scott Cairns in his Love’s Immensity: Mystics on the Endless Life (Paraclete Press, 2007).

Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence, Coquitlam and one of the blog masters of New Westminster Anglican Blog. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

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