“The hard tortures are grief for love”

I say that even those who are tormented in Gehenna are tormented with the torments of love. Torments for love’s sake, that is, the torment of those who perceive that they have sinned against love, is harder and more bitter than the tortures of fear. The sufferings that take hold of the heart through the sinning against love are more acute than any other torture. It is absurd to think that the sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of the Creator. For love is a child of true knowledge and it is said that will be given to all people. Love works with its force in a double way. It tortures those who have sinned, as we see also in the world between friends. And it gives delight to those who have kept its decrees. Thus it is also in Gehenna. I say that the hard tortures are grief for love.

St Isaac the Syrian

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3 Responses to “The hard tortures are grief for love”

  1. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    This citation from Homily 27/28 is a familiar text to many, but it is known to English-speakers from the Transfiguration Monastery translation of the The Ascetical Homilies of St Isaac (the First Part). This translation, however, is a translation of the ancient Greek translation of the homilies. Unfortunately an English translation of the original Syriac homilies has not yet been made.

    The above text is translated from the Syriac by Patrik Hagman, included in his book The Asceticism of Isaac of Nineveh (pp. 202-203).

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  2. Excellent excerpt. Thanks for sharing it with us!

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  3. Fr Aidan Kimel says:

    For the sake of comparison, here is the Transfiguration Monastery translation:

    I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna are scourged by the scourge of love. For what is so bitter and vehement as the punishment of love? I mean that those who have become conscious that they have sinned against love suffer greater torment from this than from any fear of punishment. For the sorrow caused in the heart by sin against love is sharper than any torment that can be. It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God. Love is the offspring of knowledge of the truth which, as is commonly confessed, is given to all. The power of love works in two ways: it torments those who have played the fool, even as happens here when a friend suffers from a friend; but it becomes a source of joy for those who have observed its duties. Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret.

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