Patiently pulling out the thorns.

Today marks three years since the repose in the Lord of Elder Ephraim, at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona, where he had lived most of the time since he founded it in 1995; it was one of seventeen Orthodox monasteries he established in North America. If you’d like to know more, any of these articles would be a good start:

Geronda Ephraim (from St. Anthony’s) or Ephraim (Moraitis) of Philotheou

Oh, and this one is lovely, featuring more stories from his life and photos of his funeral: Elder Ephraim has reposed.

It was encouraging to read in the St. Anthony’s article especially about his mother’s work — including prayer, above all — in helping to form the soul of this man, whose life in many ways has been a powerful gift to the world.

Here is a quote from Elder Ephraim that a friend sent today:

“Since you follow the Savior Christ… your greatest duty is to bear all suffering, whether it comes from nature, indolence, sin, or people. Since we desire to live a Christ-like life, we are obligated to submit to God’s will because all things come from God. And since they are from God, and thus are the divine will… Shall we not obey? Shall we not cry out with the blessed Job, ‘As it seemed good to the Lord, so it has come to pass. Blessed be the name of the Lord’ (Job 1:21).

“Through patience and thanksgiving, then, we show obedience to the divine will… Therefore, let us struggle; let us make our souls keen by working them over the whetstone of patience, in order to carry out a work pleasing to God. Afflictions, illnesses, distresses, trials – none of these will separate us from the love of Christ. For we have already been taught that narrow and difficult is the way which leads those who walk along it into the life without sorrow…

“Along the difficult way – that is, the trial of sickness and so forth – the thorn of doubt, of impatience, of cowardice comes to rend the garment of the soul. What is needed, therefore, is to pull out this thorn through faith, hope, and patience, having Jesus Christ as a model. Throughout His earthly life, he had many afflictions, and his All-holy soul was oppressed by many thorns, and so He exclaimed, ‘In your patience, you will gain your souls’ (Luke 21:19).”

+Elder Ephraim of Arizona, Counsels from the Holy Mountain


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