Tag Archives: St. Ephraim the Syrian

If he was not flesh — and God.

The Circumcision of Christ is commemorated on the eighth day after His Nativity.

If he was not flesh, why was Mary introduced at all? And if he was not God, whom was Gabriel calling Lord?

If he was not flesh, who was lying in the manger? And if he was not God, whom did the Angels come down and glorify?

If he was not flesh, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes? And if he was not God, whom did the shepherds worship?

If he was not flesh, whom did Joseph circumcise? And if he was not God, in whose honour did the star speed through the heavens?

If he was not flesh, whom did Mary suckle? And if he was not God, to whom did the Magi offer gifts?

-St. Ephraim the Syrian

The full quote is here.

Adoration of the Magi by Bassano the Younger

Springtime in the Soul

Dogwood In Yosemite Park

If you are stopping by here during Lent, you probably won’t find anything new. I put some links in the sidebar to things I’ve written before and that bear re-reading, so I humbly declare. I will be reading other blogs and thinking about your comments, so I hope that you will feel free to send along a note, even on the oldest posts, which are often about timeless subjects after all. Or an e-mail — my address is on my profile page.

About those security words that Blogger wants us commenters to decipher: I squint and guess at them, and half the time get them wrong once or twice while I am trying to comment on someone’s blog — so just in case any of my readers feels the same deterring effect here, I have removed that part of the commenting process on my blog. I always put comments through the filter of my visual approval anyway, so unless something terrible happens I’ll continue to use only that means to keep ugly things off these pages.

In Latin and other Romance languages the word for lent has something to do with 40 days, but Wikipedia tells us that “in the late Middle Ages, as sermons began to be given in the vernacular instead of Latin, the English word lent was adopted. This word initially simply meant spring (as in the German language Lenz and Dutch lente) and derives from the Germanic root for long because in the spring the days visibly lengthen.”

Of course, on the southern half of our globe, it’s Autumn during Lent, but even there, the repentance that is the central theme of Lent can be, as Metropolitan Kallistos says, “an opening flower.” Springtime in our souls!

The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian
O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness,
lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility,
patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King!
Grant me to see my own errors
 and not to judge my brother;
For Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

A Bee and Rain

Today in the Orthodox Church we remember among others St. Ephraim (or Ephrem) the Syrian, born in the early 4th century, a theologian and prolific writer of hymns. His prayer we pray daily during Lent.

A book of hymns and meditations by St. Ephraim was collected by St. Theophan the Recluse into A Spiritual Psalter. I would like to spend some time in this book, especially after reading today’s entry in The Prologue of Ohrid, where there is a hymn to Ephraim by St. Nikolai opening with the words,

Ephraim’s heart burns
With love for Christ,
And Ephraim’s tongue speaks
Of the pure wisdom of the Gospel.
Ephraim, the honey-bearing bee;
Ephraim, the fruit-bearing rain!

Just as God sends the bees and the rain to work for our joy and profit, so He sends people like this man. I’d like to keep that image of a buzzing and busy bee in my mind a while; let me drink holy nectar and refresh others the way God uses His creatures and creation to constantly renew my spirit.

And for today, one morsel of honey from this holy bee:

The chutzpah of our love is pleasing to you, O Lord,
just as it pleased you that we should steal from your bounty.