Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wisdom for our day from St Ephraim the Syrian

Lament over the scarcity of saints

My heart is pained, my soul agonizes and my inner parts are torn! Where am I to find the tears, where am I to find the contrition and the sighs to rightly mourn our orphaned state and the paucity of sanctity among us?

I see, O Master, that Thou takest Thy saints, like choice gold, from the vain world to the resting-place of life.

Like a farmer who sees his fruits well ripened and prudently hastens to gather them that they might not be the least bit spoiled, so doest Thou also, O Savior, gather Thy chosen ones who have labored righteously.

Yet we, who are slothful and weak-willed, remain hardened, and our fruits never ripen; for we have not the resolve to labor without sparing ourselves, in order to ripen the good works and rightly be gathered into the storehouse of life.

Say: woe is me, alas, O soul, and weep; for thou hast been left an orphan so young by the blameless fathers and righteous ascetics. Where are our fathers? Where are the saints? Where are the vigilant? Where are the sober? Where are the humble? Where are the meek? Where are those who vow silence? Where are the abstinent? Where are those who with a contrite heart stood before the Lord in perfect prayer, like angels of God? They have left here to join our holy God with their lamps brightly burning.

Woe is us! What times are these in which we live? Into what sea of evil have we sailed? Our fathers have entered the harbor of life, that they might not see the sorrows and seductions that overcome us because of our sins. They are crowned, yet we slumber; we sleep and indulge in selfish pleasures.

O Lord, have pity on us! Make sober our thoughts which whirl about in vain. Grant us contrition and tears, that they might shed some light on the blindness of our hearts, and we might see that way in which our fathers walked when they followed Thee. Grant us the desire and the strength to follow in this same way, so that we too with them might receive the lot of those who are saved, to the glory of Thy Name.

*From A Spiritual Psalter: or Reflections on God excerpted by Bishop Theophan the Recluse from the works of our Holy Father Ephraim the Syrian.

While I would prefer to post joyous things during this Holy Season, perhaps we still need to consider our lives in the light of the urgent necessity of repentance.

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