Monday, December 28, 2020

St. Ephraim of Katounakia on the Humble Simplicity of the Cave of Bethlehem

Christ's Nativity in the humble Cave of Bethlehem (source)

"I remember," said St. Ephraim of Katounakia, "that I was astonished by everywhere in the Holy Lands, but when I went to the Cave of Bethlehem, there, my heart was broken! It was torn into a thousand pieces! And I said, 'how was God born in this place, in this cave, without any consolation, like one thrown out of the city? This God Who could make anything for Himself, but, without complaint, far from every worldly comfort, during the night (and the coldest night of the year), the longest night of the year, in a totally abandoned place, He Who created everything--Heaven and Earth--He was born in this place!

"And when I returned [to his cell on Mount Athos], I entered in and saw my blankets (what blankets did He have?), and I saw what I had, and I was ashamed, and said: 'If God was born in that cave, how could I need all of these things?' I saw pots and pans..."

Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesou, who was relating the story, comments that: "If I were to describe his pots...not even our dogs would eat from them! And if I could describe his bed...not even our pigs would we put in them!

"But, he perceived his place to be a luxury, over the top. And from then on, when they would tell him: "Elder, your cell is small." He would reply: "God was born in a cave. If I thought of God's cave, well then, what could I say regarding my own?"


Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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