Sacraments & Resurrection Light – Ephrem

In this beautiful prayer, read by the Church each year on June 9, the feast of St. Ephrem the Syrian, we see the sacraments, or the mysteries in Greek and Syriac, as a reflection of the light of the resurrection, an experience of the divine beauty which brings us delight.

O Lord, drive away the darkness from our minds with the light of your wisdom, so that enlightened in this way we may serve you with renewed purity. The beginning of the sun’s passage through the sky marks the beginning of the working-day for us mortals: we ask you, Lord, to prepare in our minds a place where the day that knows no end may give its light. Grant that we may have within us this light, the life of the resurrection, and that nothing may take away our delight in you. Mark us with the sign of that day that does not begin with the movement and the course of the sun, by keeping our minds fixed on you.

In your sacraments we welcome you every day and receive you in our bodies. Make us worthy to experience within us the resurrection for which we hope. By the grace of baptism we conceal within our bodies the treasure of your divine life. This treasure increases as we eat at the table of your sacraments. Let us rejoice in your grace. We have within us, Lord, a memorial of you, which we receive at your spiritual table; may we possess the full reality in the life to come.

Ephraim-the-Syrian-icon prayer

Let us appreciate the great beauty that is ours through the spiritual beauty that your immortal will arouses in our mortal nature.

Your crucifixion, Lord, was the end of your bodily life: help us to crucify our will to give birth to the spiritual life. May your resurrection, Jesus, fill our spirits with greatness: may we see in your sacraments a mirror in which we may be able to recognize the resurrection.

Your divine ordering of the world, O Savior, is the image of the spiritual world: let us live in it as truly spiritual men. Do not take away from our minds, Lord, the signs of your spiritual presence and do not withdraw from our bodies the warmth and delight of your presence. The mortal nature of our bodies is a source of corruption within us: let the outpouring of the spirit of your love wipe away the effect of mortality from our hearts. Grant, Lord, that we may hasten to our true home, and, like Moses on the mountain-top, let us have a glimpse of it.

This prayer reflecting on the sacraments or mysteries, especially baptism and eucharist, the light of the resurrection and God’s beauty bringing delight is an excerpt from a homily of St. Ephrem used in the Office of readings for June 9, the feast of St. Ephrem.

Ephrem the Syrian, St.

St. Ephrem (also spelt Ephraem) the Syrian was a deacon who wrote his reflections almost exclusively in poetry, in the Syriac Aramaic language which was a dialect of the same language spoken by Our Lord and the apostles. He lived for most of his life in the city of Edessa, and wrote with such beauty on so many topics that he is regarded as one of the Doctors of the Church. Saint Ephrem died in the year 373 AD. His emphatic insistence on the absolute sinlessness of the Virgin Mary makes him an early witness of the Church’s belief in Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

  • Thank you Dr. Italy! Your introduction to St. Ephraem has been a faith changer for me. The strength of his humility and revelation, the strength of his character and salvation history is not too distance from that of St. Francis, 600 years later. The fact that he was at the Council of Nicea, introduced “women as teachers” within the Church because they were invited to sing the Holy Scriptures and Divine Liturgy, and for me personally, his total regard for the bread of medicine and wine of fire in the Holy Eucharist is mind boggling. The fact that his writings seem more current today than perhaps even in his own day and that they have only just recently surfaced and been translated from the Aramaic reveals the authorship power of the Holy Spirit. Truly the Lord Jesus moved Ephraem like a pen in His hand and now you have become a champion of St. Ephraem to yet another ‘peculiar’ people group (myself included). As a result we see the Testimony of Jesus Christ even more clearly from the vision and declaration of one from the ancient Church! What fine company you keep! Alleluia! Like Ephraem, you also are a harp of the Holy Spirit (or bass perhaps!)!