Maxims from Saint Isidore, Bishop of Seville

Prayer purifies us, reading instructs us. Both are good when both are possible. Otherwise, prayer is better than reading.

If a man wants to be always in God’s company, he must pray regularly and read regularly. When we pray we talk to God; when we read, God talks to us.

All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection. By reading we learn what we did not know; by reflection we retain what we have learned.

Read the holy scriptures confers two benefits. It trains the mind to understand them; it turns man’s attention from the follies of the world and leads him to the love of God.

Two kinds of study are called for here. We must first learn the scriptures are to be understood, and then see how to expound them with profit and in a manner worthy of them. A man must first be eager to understand what he is reading before he is fit to proclaim what he has learned.

The conscientious reader will be more concerned to carry out what he has read than merely to acquire knowledge of it. For it is a less serious fault to be ignorant of an objective than it is to fail to carry out what we do know. In ready we aim at knowing, but we must put into practice what we have learned in our course of study.

No one can understand Holy Scripture without constant reading, according to the words: Love her and she will exalt you. Embrace her and she will glorify you.

The more you devote yourself to a study of the sacred utterances, the richer will be your understanding of them, just as the more the soil is tilled, the richer the harvest.

Some people have great mental powers but cannot be bothered with reading; what reading could have taught them is devalued by their neglect. Others have a desire to know but are hampered by their slow mental processes; yet application to reading will teach them things which the clever fail to learn through laziness.

The man who is slow to grasp things but who really tries hard is rewarded; equally he who does not cultivate his God-given intellectual ability is condemned for despising his gifts and sinning by sloth.

Learning unsupported by grace may get into our ears; it never reaches the heart. It makes a great noise outside but serves no inner purpose. But when God’s grace touches our innermost minds to bring understanding, his word, which has been received by the ear, sinks deep into the heart.

I might split these out and comment on them later.

4 Replies to “Maxims from Saint Isidore, Bishop of Seville”

    1. There isn’t a book of Maxims…the term maxim just describes these short sayings. I wish I knew what book I got these out of. Since, as far as I could find, all of his works are in Latin, somewhere I came upon an English translation of some of his sayings. That was 8 years ago…If I happen to run across where these translations are from, I’ll update this. Here’s a link to wikiquotes: Isidore

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