Saturday, February 25, 2012

First Saturday of Holy Lent - St Ephraim -2

Born again in repentance, St. Ephraim began to train as an athlete of virtues, exercising himself in the study of the Holy Scriptures and in prayer and fasting. The passionate and wayward youth was transformed into a humble and contrite monk, weeping day and night for his sins and entirely surrendered to God. Ephraim's earnest resolve pleased the Lord, Who rewarded him with the gifts of wisdom; grace flowed from his mouth like a sweet stream, in fulfillment of his parents' dream.
St. James recognized his disciple's God given talents, and as a bishop he entrusted Ephraim with preaching the Word of God and instructing children in school. In 325 he took Ephraim with him to the First Ecumenical Council in Nicea. Returning to Nisibis, Ephraim continued with his missionary work until 363 when the Persians conquered the city and most of its Christian inhabitants departed.

St. Ephraim decided to go to the city of Edessa around which monastic life was flourishing. He prayed that there the Lord would send to meet him a man who could converse with him on the Holy Scriptures for his spiritual profit. In Edessa, Ephraim earned a humble living in the service of a bath keeper. He used his free time in preaching the Word of God to the unbelievers. Angered' by St. Ephraim's successes, the devil set his traps to catch the servant of God. Once, for example, as the Saint was preparing his dinner, a woman gazing from the window of an adjacent dwelling conceived a desire to seduce him. "Bless me, sir," she shouted at him. "The Lord bless you," replied the Saint. "What do you need for your food?" she continued. Discerning the true purpose of her conversation, Ephraim answered, "Three stones and some sand to block up your window." The shameless woman, was a harlot. The Saint said, " we ought to be ashamed of, and also fear God, Who knows all the secrets of men! For He will judge the whole world and will reward everyone according to his deeds." By God's grace his words moved the harlot to repentance and she begged him to guide her to the path of salvation. Having received from him basic instruction in the Christian Faith, she entered a convent.

After living for some time in Edessa, the Saint was advised by a Holy Elder to go into the wilderness. He settled in a cave of the nearby "Mount of Edessa," where he gave himself up to prayer, fasting and the study of Holy Scripture. There occurred an incident, which illustrates the Saint's dispassion. Once, after a long fast, his disciple was bringing him a meal, when the dish of food fell and broke. Seeing the brother's shame and consternation, the Saint said simply: "Never mind, if the food will not come to us, we shall go to the food." He sat down on the ground by the broken dish and proceeded to eat the meal as well as he could. It was said of him that although he was naturally prone to passion, he never exhibited angry feelings towards anyone from the time of his embracing the 'monastic life

To be Continued .....

No comments: