Tuesday, January 28, 2014

St. Ephraim the Syrian on Humility

St. Ephraim the Syrian (source)
My beloved in the Lord, before every other thing set humility in thy mouth when thou art ready to make answer, for, forgive me, thou knowest that by humility all the power of the Enemy is brought to naught. And thou knowest the goodness of thy Master, Whom they blasphemed, and how He became humble, and obedient, even unto death. And do thou thyself, my son, set thy humility in thy mouth, and in thy heart, and in thy neck, for there is a commandment which inculcateth humility. Consider David, who boasted himself of his humility, and said, `Because I humbled myself the Lord delivered me, and He did good unto me.' [cf. Ps. 29(30): 8-12] My son, array thyself in humility, and thou shalt make the virtues of God be with thee. And if, my son, thou art in a state of humility, no passion whatsoever shall have power to draw nigh thee.
There is no measure (or, limit) to the beauty of the man who is humble. No passion whatsoever shall be able to draw nigh unto the man who is humble, and there is no measure to his beauty. The humble man is a sacrifice of God. With him that is humble the hearts of God and His angels rest. Moreover, when the angels glorify him, there is the excuse for him that hath produced in himself all virtues; but for him that hath produced humility in himself thou wilt find no excuse whatsoever needed, besides that he hath become humble.
My son, these are the virtues of humility. My son, hold thy peace, for it is written, `He who is wise at that time will hold his peace.' [Amos 5:13] Hold thy peace until thou art asked a question. When they ask thee a question speak, and use humble words, and a humble manner. Do not be wholly mournful. If it (i.e. the question) be too great for thee sit down. Speak not when others are speaking words of depreciation; compel thyself, thou shalt not forget, [and let] thy thoughts [be] 'I have not heard [them].' To all words wherin is profit give thy most earnest attention. For it is written, `If [thou art] a doer of the word and not a hearer thereof thou deceivest thyself, my son, in the Lord.' [2 Tim 3:15] I give thee commandments in thy beginning, do thou keep them in thy youth. Observe what Paul spake. He said, `Besides, from the time when thou wast a child thou didst know the Holy Scriptures, which have the power to save thee.'...
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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