Saturday, March 17, 2012

On Repentance: St. Ephraim the Syrian

This is from the weekly bulletin of my home parish of St. Paul.  A terrifying look into the mirror.

If we give a gift in pride, this is not of God. If we are puffed up by the amount of knowledge we have, we have denied the Grace of God. If we are poor but proud, be assured, we will end up in Hell. If we are haughty and needy, be assured, what we are lacking we will pay for eternally. If we are sick and always complaining, we are sick to our soul’s harm. If we are hungry but long for luxury, we suffer like the poor, but catch the punishment of the rich. If we are always looking around with impure and lustful thoughts and we desire someone in this way, our reward will be in flames with the adulterers and in Hell with the fornicators...Let us demand purity from our bodies just as husbands and wives demand purity of each other...Darkness is dearer to us than light when our manner of life is impure...The time will come when our purity shall be disclosed, when our secret deeds shall be made known to all. With what eyes do we look to God in our prayers? What hands do we raise to heaven when we ask pardon? We should be ashamed and dismayed at ourselves when we are empty of understanding. If we are ashamed to look our neighbors in the eyes, how much more should we be ashamed before God who sees everything? If we do not guard our thoughts we are like the sow that is washed only to go and play in the filth again...Even in looking we can sin if our minds are not watchful. And we can sin in what we hear if we do not guard what we allow ourselves to listen to. The fornicator’s heart grows boldly because of talk that is full of dirtiness. Passions hidden in our minds, sight and hearing are awakened by dirty talk.

We should not slander anyone unless we want to be called Satan. If we do not like that name we must not do the things that merit our being called Satan. But if we love to gossip and slander, we had better not be angry at that name. We should count ourselves rebuked by the birds who always stick together with their own kind and do not go pecking into each others’ concerns. We must not take delight in anyone else’s sin. If we do, we have become a Satan. If evil happens to someone we hate, we must not be delighted or we have sinned. If our enemy falls into sin, we must feel pains and mourn. We must keep our hearts safe from secret sins; for there will be a laying bare of thoughts and actions at the second coming. Let us keep busy at what we ought to do and let our hearts meditate in prayer. We must not love idle and empty talking and notice that talking that is profitable will lighten both the work and what we are doing and our souls.

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