Philokalia

Philokalia

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Lover of Virtue

St. Isaac clarifies something about the attitude that we must have as we seek to grow in virtue and overcome vice.  We must come to see that often hidden within valiant struggle is still the desire for the vice.  The sign that one is a lover of virtue is expressed through the willingness to endure all manner of evil and suffering to maintain it with joy!  The pure heart remains unconfused and unmoved by the "flattery of tantalizing pleasures."  Sin must no longer have any attraction for us.  Isaac also adds that if we lose the ability or free will to sin due to certain circumstances, i.e., illness, we will not come to know the true joy of repentance.  Absence of sin does not mean the presence of virtue.  All of this is a challenge to halfhearted approach to the spiritual life.

The lover of virtue is not he who does good with valiant struggle, but he who accepts with joy the evils that attend the virtue.  It is not so great a thing for one patiently to endure afflictions on behalf of virtue, as it is for the mind through the determination of its good volition to remain unconfused by the flattery of tantalizing pleasures. No kind of repentance that takes place after the removal our free will will be a well-spring of joy, nor will it be reckoned for the reward of those who possess it.

St. Isaac the Syrian