Isacco di Theba

Isaac le Thébain

Abba Isaac the Syrian was born in 613 in Beth Qatraye (what is now known as Qatar in the Persian Gulf). He joined a monastery at a young age, was ordained as a priest in Nineveh (modern day Iraq), and promptly left his post five months after having been ordained to pursue the life of a solitary in the Arabian desert.

Shortly after having been ordained as a priest, he felt the lure of the desert beckoning him. He missed the solitude of the monastic life he had enjoyed before becoming a priest and wondered if grace had departed from him on account of his new found rank. The story of a particular father who felt as if divine care was present as long as he dwelt in the desert had particular appeal to Abba Isaac. Needing no further convincing he left for the desert after his brief turn as a priest.

Abba Isaac was known to have penetrated the depths of the spiritual life. The scriptures and a healthy respect for the mystery of God drove Isaac to embrace the heart of God. He wrote and studied extensively on the life of spiritual discipline. It is even said that he lost his eyesight later in life due to his reading and discipline.

To Isaac, the beginning of the spiritual life was struggle. He was convinced that we would have to unlearn what we had learned, and there was no greater facet for that process than the bible. As scripture was imprinted upon the mind through reading, meditation, and prayer, the heart was transformed and illuminated.