“What is purity, briefly? It is a heart full of compassion for the whole of created nature…And what is a compassionate heart? He tells us: ‘It is a heart that burns for all creation, for the birds, for the beasts, for the devils, for every creature. When he thinks about them, when he looks at them, his eyes fill with tears. So strong, so violent is his compassion…that his heart breaks when he sees the pain and suffering of the humblest creature. That is why he prays with tears every moment…for all the enemies of truth and for all who cause harm that they may be protected and forgiven. He prays even for the serpents in the boundless compassion that wells up in his heart after God’s likeness.’–Isaac of Nineveh Ascetic Treatises, 81 (p.306)
Originally a monk of the monastery of Bethabe in Kurdistan, Isaac was a fruitful ascetical writer and his works were for centuries the main food of Syrian piety.