Ephrem the Syrian: To Thee be praise from Thy flock in the day of Thy Epiphany! Wednesday, Jan 6 2016 

Mor_Ephrem_iconResponse—To Thee be praise from Thy flock in the day of Thy Epiphany!

The heavens He has renewed, for that fools worshipped all the luminaries:
—He has renewed the earth, for that in Adam it was wasted.
—That which He fashioned has become new by His spittle:
—and the All-Sufficing has restored bodies with souls.

Gather yourselves again ye sheep
—and without labour receive cleansing!
—for one needs not as Elisha
—to bathe seven times in the river, nor again to be wearied as the priests are wearied with sprinklings.

Seven times Elisha purified himself in a mystery of the seven spirits;
—and the hyssop and blood are a mighty symbol.
—There is no room for division;
—He is not divided from the Lord of all Who is Son of the Lord of all.

Moses sweetened in Marah the waters that were bitter,
—because the People complained and murmured:
—Thus he gave a sign of baptism,
—wherein the Lord of life makes sweet them that were bitter.

The cloud overshadowed and kept off the burning heat from the camp;
—it showed a symbol of the Holy Spirit, which overshadows you in baptism
—tempering the flaming fire that it harm not your bodies.

Through the sea the People then passed, and showed a symbol
—of the baptism wherein ye were washed.
—The People passed through that and believed not:
—the Gentiles were baptized in this and believed and received the Holy Ghost.

The Word sent the Voice to proclaim before His Coming,
—to prepare for Him the way by which He came,
—and to betroth the Bride till He should come,
—that she might be ready when He should come and take her from the water.

The voice of prophecy stirred the son of the barren woman,
—and he went forth wandering in the desert and crying,
—“Lo! the Son of the Kingdom comes!
—prepare ye the way that He may enter and abide in your dwellings!”

John cried, “Who comes after me, He is before me:
—I am the Voice but not the Word;
—I am the torch but not the Light;
—the Star that rises before the Sun of Righteousness.”

In the wilderness this John had cried and had said,
—“Repent ye sinners of your evils,
—and offer the fruits of repentance;
—for lo! He comes that winnows the wheat from the tares.”

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Fifteen Hymns on the Feast of the Epiphany, 1, 1-10.

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Ephrem the Syrian: When man’s hope had broken down, hope was increased by Thy Birth. Sunday, Dec 27 2015 

Mor_Ephrem_iconWhen man’s hope had broken down, hope was increased by Thy Birth.
—Good tidings of hope they bore, the Heavenly Ones to men.
—Satan who cut off our hope, his own hope by his own hands had cut off.
—when he saw that hope was increased:  Thy Birth became to the hopeless,
—a fountain teaming with hope.

Blessed be He Who bore the tidings of hope!

[…] Thy day has given us a gift, to which the Father has none other like;
—It was not Seraphim He sent us, nor yet did Cherubim come down among us;
—there came not Watchers or Ministers, but the Firstborn to Whom they minister.
—Who can suffice to give thanks, that the Majesty which is beyond measure
—is laid in the lowly manger!

Blessed be He Who gave us what He had won!

[…] The bosom of Mary amazes me, that it sufficed for Thee, Lord, and embraced Thee.
—All creation were too small, to conceal Thy Majesty;
—Heaven and earth too narrow, to be in the likeness of wings, to cover Thy Godhead.
—Too small for Thee was the bosom of earth; great enough for Thee was the bosom of Mary.
—He dwelt in the bosom and healed in her bosom.

Glory to all of Thee from all of us!

He was wrapped meanly in swaddling clothes, and offerings were offered Him.

—He put on garments in youth, and from them there came forth helps:
—He put on the waters of baptism, and from them there shone forth beams:
—He put on linen cloths in death, and in them were shown forth triumphs; with His humiliations, His exaltations.

Blessed be He Who joined His Glory to His Passion!

All these are the changes of raiment, which Mercy put off and put on,
—when He strove to put on Adam, the glory which he had put off.
—He was wrapped in swaddling-clothes as Adam with leaves; and clad in garments instead of skins.
—He was baptized for Adam’s sin, and buried for Adam’s death:
—He rose and raised Adam into Glory.

Blessed be He Who came down and clothed him and went up!

Though Thy Birth had sufficed, for Adam’s sons as for Adam;
—O Mighty One Who didst become a babe, in Thy Birth anew hast Thou begotten me!
—O pure One Who wast baptized, let Thy Washing wash away our filth
—O Living One who wast buried, may we gain life in Thy death!
—I will praise all of Thee in Him that fills all.

Glory to all of Thee from all of us!

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Nineteen Hymns on the Nativity of Christ in the Flesh, 16, 6; 8; 10-14.

Ephrem the Syrian: Unto you shall the Father be a wall of strength, and the Son a Redeemer, and the Spirit a guard Wednesday, Jun 10 2015 

Mor_Ephrem_icon(Response: Brethren, sing praises, to the Son of the Lord of all; Who has bound for you crowns, such as kings long for!”)

Your garments glisten, my brethren, as snow;—and fair is your shining in the likeness of Angels!

In the likeness of Angels, ye have come up, beloved,—from Jordan’s river, in the armour of the Holy Ghost.

The bridal chamber that fails not, my brethren, ye have received:—and the glory of Adam’s house to-day ye have put on.

The judgment that came of the fruit was Adam’s condemnation:—but for you victory has arisen this day.

Your vesture is shining, and goodly your crowns:—which the Firstborn has bound for you by the priest’s hand this day.

Woe in Paradise did Adam receive:—but you have received glory this day.

The armour of victory ye put on, my beloved:—in the hour when the priest invoked the Holy Ghost.

The Angels rejoice men here below exult:—in your feast, my brethren, wherein is no foulness.

The good things of Heaven, my brethren, ye have received:—beware of the Evil One, lest he despoil you.

The day when He dawned, the Heavenly King:—opens for you His door, and bids you enter Eden.

Crowns that fade not away are set on your heads:—hymns of praise hourly let your mouths sing.

Adam by means of the fruit God cast forth in sorrow:—but you He makes glad in the bride-chamber of joy.

Who would not rejoice in your bridechamber, my brethren?—for the Father with His Son and the Spirit rejoice in you.

Unto you shall the Father be a wall of strength:—and the Son a Redeemer and the Spirit a guard.

Martyrs by their blood glorify their crowns:—but you our Redeemer by His Blood glorifies.

Watchers and Angels joy over the repentant:—they shall joy over you, my brethren, that unto them ye are made like.

The fruit which Adam tasted not in Paradise:—this day in your mouths has been placed with joy.

Our Redeemer figured His Body by the tree:—whereof Adam tasted not because he had sinned.

The Evil One made war and subdued Adam’s house:—through your baptism, my brethren, lo! he is subdued this day.

Great is the victory, but to-day you have won:—if so be ye neglect not, you shall not perish, my brethren.

Glory to them that are robed, glory to Adam’s house!—in the birth that is from the water let them rejoice and be blessed!

Praise to Him Who has robed His Churches in glory!—glory to Him Who has magnified the race of Adam’s house.

 Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Fifteen Hymns on the Epiphany, 13 (Hymn of the Baptised).

Ephrem the Syrian: At the last, worship also shall be gathered in completely to its Lord Wednesday, Apr 29 2015 

Mor_Ephrem_iconGod was sent from the Godhead, to come and convict the graven images that they were no gods.

And when He took away from them the name of God which decked them out, then appeared the blemishes of their persons.

And their blemishes were these;—They have eyes and see not, and ears and hear not (Ps. 114/115:5-6).

Thy preaching persuaded their many worshippers to change their many gods for the One.

For in that Thou didst take away the name of godhead from the idols, worship also along with the name was withdrawn; that, namely, which is bound up with the name; for worship also attends on the Name of God.

Because, then, worship also was rendered to the Name, by all the Gentiles, at the last the worshipful Name shall be gathered in entirely to its Lord.

Therefore, at the last, worship also shall be gathered in completely to its Lord, that it may be fulfilled that all things shall be subjected to Him.

Then, He in His turn shall be subjected to Him Who subjected all things to Him (1 Cor. 15:27-28). So that that Name, rising from degree to degree, shall be bound up with its root.

For when all creatures shall be bound by their love to the Son through Whom they were created, and the Son shall be bound by the love of that Father by Whom He was begotten, all creatures shall give thanks at the last to the Son, through Whom they received all blessings.

And in Him and with Him they shall give thanks also to His Father, from Whose treasure He distributes all riches to us.

Glory be to Thee Who didst clothe Thyself in the body of mortal Adam, and didst make it a fountain of life for all mortals.

Thou art He that livest, for Thy slayers were as husbandmen to Thy life, for that they sowed it as wheat in the depth of the earth, that it may rise and raise up many with it.

Come, let us make our love the great censer of the community, and offer on it as incense our hymns and our prayers to Him Who made His Cross a censer for the Godhead, and offered from it on behalf of us all.

He that was above stooped down to those who were beneath, to distribute His treasures to them.  Accordingly, though the needy drew near to His manhood, yet they used to receive the gift from His Godhead.

Therefore He made the body which He put on the treasurer of His riches, that He, O Lord, might bring them out of Thy storehouse, and distribute them to the needy, the sons of His kindred.

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Homily on Our Lord, 8-9.

Ephrem the Syrian: Through the tree mankind fell into Sheol; upon the tree they passed over into the dwelling of life Wednesday, Apr 15 2015 

Mor_Ephrem_icon

The only-begotten…took up His abode in the Virgin; that by a common manner of birth, though only-begotten, He might become the brother of many.

And He departed from Sheol and took up His abode in the Kingdom; that He might seek out a path from Sheol which oppresses all, to the Kingdom which requites all.

For our Lord gave His resurrection as a pledge to mortals, that He would remove them from Sheol, which receives the departed without distinction, to the Kingdom which admits the invited with distinction.

[…] The Father begat Him, and through Him created the creatures.

Flesh bare Him and through Him slew lusts.

Baptism brought him forth, that through Him it might wash away stains.

Sheol brought Him forth, that through Him its treasures might be emptied out.

He came to us from beside His Father by the way of them that are born.

And by the way of them that die, He went forth to go to His Father; so that by His coming through birth, His advent might be seen; and by His returning through resurrection, His departure might be confirmed.

But our Lord was trampled on by Death; and in His turn trod out a way over Death.

This is He Who made Himself subject to and endured death of His own will, that He might cast down death against his will.

For our Lord bare His Cross and went forth according to the will of Death:  but He cried upon the Cross and brought forth the dead from within Sheol against the will of Death.

For in that very thing by which Death had slain Him [i.e., the body], in that as armour He bore off the victory over Death.

But the Godhead concealed itself in the manhood and fought against Death, Death slew and was slain.  Death slew the natural life; and the supernatural life slew Him.

[…] This is the Son of the carpenter, Who skilfully made His Cross a bridge over Sheol that swallows up all, and brought over mankind into the dwelling of life.

And because it was through the tree that mankind had fallen into Sheol, so upon the tree they passed over into the dwelling of life.

Through the tree then wherein bitterness was tasted, through it also sweetness was tasted; that we might learn of Him that amongst the creatures nothing resists Him.

Glory be to Thee, Who didst lay Thy Cross as a bridge over death, that souls might pass over upon it from the dwelling of the dead to the dwelling of life!

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Homily on Our Lord, 1-4.

Ephrem the Syrian: The Days of Christmas (2) Friday, Jan 3 2014 

Mor_Ephrem_iconContinued from here…

Let the fifth day praise Him Who created
on the fifth day creeping things and dragons
of whose kind is the serpent.
He deceived and led astray our mother,
a young girl without understanding.
Since the deceiver mocked the young girl,
the fraudulent one was exposed by the Dove
Who shone forth and emerged from an innocent womb,
the Wise One, Who crushed the crafty one.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Let the sixth day praise Him Who created
on Friday Adam whom the evil one envied.
As a false friend he pleased him
by offering him poison in his food.
The Medicine of Life diffused Himself to them both.
He put on a body and was offered to them both.
The mortal tasted Him and lived by Him;
the devourer who ate Him was destroyed.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Let the seventh day cry “holy” to the Holy One
Who sanctified the Sabbath to give rest to living beings.
The untiring Gracious One took care of humanity and He took care of animals.
Since freedom fell under the yoke,
He came to the birth and was subjected to free it.
He was struck by a servant’s slap in the court.
As Lord, He broke the yoke upon the free.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Let the eighth day that circumcised the Hebrews
confess Him Who commanded His namesake Joshua
to circumcise with flint the People whose body was circumcised
but whose heart was unbelieving from within.
Behold on the eighth day as a babe
The Circumciser of all came to circumcision.
Although the sign of Abraham was on His flesh,
the blind daughter of Sion has disfigured it.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Let the tenth day praise its number
for yodh, the letter of the fair name of Jesus,
in counting its ten.
This number that is like a Lord
reverses the numbers.
For whenever counting goes up to ten,
it goes back to begin again from one again.
O great mystery that is in the name Jesus
Whose power turns Creation back again!

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

The First-born, Purifier of all, on the day of His purifying
purified the purification of the first-born and was offered.
The Lord of offering was in need of offerings
to make an offering of a bird.
By His birth were completed the archetypes:
He came and paid the debts by His descent;
by His resurrection He ascended and sent treasures.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Twenty-Sixth Hymn of the Nativity from Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns, translated by Kathleen McVey, preface by John Meyendorff [Paulist Press, 1989])

Ephrem the Syrian: The Days of Christmas (1) Friday, Jan 3 2014 

Mor_Ephrem_iconThe first year of our Redeemer’s birth
is the source of blessings and foundation of life.
For by it are borne a multitude of victories
and the sum of helps.
As the first day “in the beginning”
the great pillar of the creation
bears the building of the creation,
so the first-born day bears the help for humanity.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

In the second year of our Redeemer’s birth
the Magi are glad, the Pharisees are gloomy,
treasures are opened, kings are hastening,
and infants are slain.
For in it are offered in Bethlehem
desirable and fearful gifts.
For love offered gold,
but envy offered infants by the sword.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

The day of the All-Illuminating is glad at His birth.
It is a pillar of rays that pursues with its beams
the works of darkness in a type of that day
on which the light was created
and tore away the darkness
spread over the beauty of creation.
The ray of our Redeemer’s birth
entered and tore away the darkness upon the heart.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

The first day, the source and beginning,
is a type of the root that germinated everything.
Much greater than it is our Redeemer’s day planted in the universe.
For His death is like a root inside the earth,
His resurrection like the summit in heaven,
His words extend in every direction like branches,
and like His fruit is His body for those who eat it.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Let the second day sing praise on the birth
of the Son, the Second, and the Voice of the First.
He commanded the firmament and it came into existence;
He divided the waters from above,
and He gathered the seas below.
He Who separated the waters from the waters
separated from the Watchers and came down to humankind.
Instead of the waters He commanded and they were gathered,
He let flow a source of water and gave it to drink.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Let the third day weave with hymns
a crown of psalms and offer it with one voice
for the birth of Him Who made flowers and blossoms grow
on the third day.
But now He Who makes all things grow,
came down and became a Holy Blossom.
From the thirsty earth He sprouted, and He went up
to adorn and crown the victorious.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Let the fourth day confess fourfold
the birth of Him Who created on the fourth day
the pair of luminaries that fools worship
and they are blind and unseeing.
He, the Lord of the luminaries, came down,
and like the sun He shone on us from the womb.
His radiances have opened the eyes of the blind;
His rays have enlightened the straying.

Blessed is Your birth that makes all Creation glad!

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Twenty-Sixth Hymn of the Nativity from Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns, translated by Kathleen McVey, preface by John Meyendorff [Paulist Press, 1989])

Ephrem the Syrian: He Who Gives Life to All Exhales a Life-Giving Scent in Sheol Monday, Sep 16 2013 

Mor_Ephrem_iconOur generation is like a leaf whose time, once it falls, is over,
but though the limit of our life is short, praise can lengthen it,
for, corresponding to the extent of our love,
we shall acquire, through praise, life that has no measure.

For it is in our Lord that the root of our faith is grafted;
though far off, he is still close to us in the fusion of love.
Let the roots of our love be bound up in him,
let the full extent of his compassion be fused in us.

O Lord, may the body be a temple for him who built it,
may the soul be a palace full of praise for its architect!
Let not our body become a hollow cavity,
let our souls not be a harbour of loss.

And when the light of this temporal breath flickers out
do you relight in the morning the lantern that was extinguished in the night.
The sun arrives and with the warmth of its rising
it revives the frozen and relights what has been extinguished.

It is right that we should acknowledge that Light which illumines all,
for in the morning, when the sun has gone up, lanterns are extinguished,
but this new Sun has performed a new deed,
relighting in Sheol the lanterns that had been extinguished.

In place of death who has breathed the smell of mortality over all,
he who gives life to all exhales a life-giving scent in Sheol;
from his life the dead breathe in new life,
and death dies within them.

The scent of the buried Elisha who gave life to a dead man provides a type for this:
a man dead but a day breathed in life from him who was long dead;
the life-giving scent wafted from his bones and entered the dead corpse –
a symbol of him who gives life to all.

Jesus has elucidated for us the symbols that took place at Elisha’s grave,
how from an extinguished lantern a lantern can be relit,
and how, while lying in the grave, he could raise up the fallen,
himself remaining there, but sending forth a witness to Christ’s coming.

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): The Harp of the Spirit, 77-78, translated by Sebastian Brock; from the Monastic Office of Vigils for Saturday of the 19th Week in Ordinary Time, Year 1.

Ephrem the Syrian: Jesus the Merciful Physician Wednesday, Aug 28 2013 

Mor_Ephrem_iconLuke 7:36-50 (Jesus Anointed by a Sinful Woman)

Matthew 26:6-13 (Jesus Anointed at Bethany)

Glory then be to Him the Invisible, who clothed Himself in invisibility, that sinners might he able to draw near to Him.

For our Lord did not repel the sinful woman as the Pharisee expected; inasmuch as He descended from the height which no man can reach unto, altogether in order that lowly publicans, like Zaccheus, might reach unto Him.

And the Nature which none can handle, clothed Itself in a body, altogether in order that all lips (Is. 6:7) might kiss His feet as the sinful woman did (Luke 7:36-50).

For the sacred soul was hidden within the veil of flesh, and so touched all unclean lips and sanctified them.

[…] His feet invited to tears; He was the good Physician, who came forth to go to the sinful woman who was seeking Him in her soul.

She then anointed the feet of our Lord, who anointed not His head—she who was trodden down in the dust by all.

For those Pharisees who justified themselves and despised all else, trod her down.  But He the Merciful, Whose pure body sanctified her uncleanness, had pity on her.

But Mary anointed the head of our Lord’s body (Matt. 26:7) as a token of the better part which she had chosen.  And Christ prophesied concerning that which her soul had chosen.

While Martha was cumbered with serving, Mary was hungering to be satisfied with spiritual things by Him Who also satisfies us with bodily things.  So Mary refreshed Him with precious ointment, as He had refreshed her with His exalted teaching.

Mary by the oil showed forth the mystery of His mortality, Who by His teaching mortified the concupiscence of her flesh.

Thus the sinful woman by the flood of her tears, in full assurance was rewarded with remission of sins from beside His feet; and she who had the issue of blood, stole healing from the hem of His garment.

But Mary received blessing openly from His mouth, as a reward of the service of her hands upon His head.  For she poured out on His head the precious ointment, and received from His mouth a wonderful promise.

This is the ointment which was sown above and yielded fruit below.  For she sowed it on His head and gathered its fruit from between His lips—She shall have a name and this memorial in every place where My Gospel shall be preached (Matt. 26: 13).

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Homily on Our Lord, 46-47.

Ephrem the Syrian: “When I Arose, I could Discern Nothing for the Glory of the Light” Sunday, Aug 11 2013 

Mor_Ephrem_iconSaul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? (Acts 9:4).

He who had conquered His persecutors in the world below, and ruled over the angels in the world above, spoke from above with humble voice.

[…] Our Lord spoke in humility from heaven, that in humility the heads of His church might speak.

And if any one should say, “Wherein did our Lord speak humbly with Paul? for lo! the eyes of Paul were grievously smitten”, let him know that it was not from our merciful Lord that this chastisement proceeded, who spoke those words in humility; but from the vehement light that vehemently shone forth there.

And this light did not strike Paul by way of retribution on account of his deeds, but on account of the vehemence of its rays it hurt him, as he also said:  When I arose, I could discern nothing for the glory of the light (Acts 22:11).

But if that light was glorious, O Paul, how did the glorious light become a blinding light to thee thyself?

The light was that which, according to its nature, illuminates above, but contrary to its nature, it shone forth below. When it illumined above, it was delightful; but when it shone forth below, it was blinding.  For the light was both grievous and pleasant.

It was grievous and violent towards the eyes of the flesh; and it was pleasant and lightful to those who are fire and spirit (Matthew 4:11).  For I saw a light from heaven that excelled the sun, and its light shone upon me (Acts 26:13).

So then mighty rays streamed forth without moderation, and were poured upon feeble eyes, which moderate rays refresh.  For, lo! the sun also in measure assists the eyes, but beyond measure and out of measure it injures the eyes.

[…]  For since Paul might have been injured by the vehemence of this sun to which he was accustomed, if he gazed upon it not according to custom, how much more should he be injured by the glory of that light to which his eyes never had been accustomed?

For behold, Daniel also (Daniel 10:5,6) was melted and poured out on every side before the glory of the angel, whose vehement brightness suddenly shone upon him!

And it was not because of the angel’s wrath that his human weakness was melted, just as it is not on account of the wrath or hostility of fire that wax is melted before it; but on account of the weakness of the wax it cannot keep firm and stand in presence of fire.

Ephrem the Syrian (c.306-373): Homily on Our Lord, 26-27.

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