St Ephraim: Do You Let Prayer Recollect Itself in Luminous Silence?

Feast of Sts Erastus, Olympas, rodion, Sosipater, and Quartus, Apostles of the 70

Ephraim_Square_2.jpegTO YOU, Lord, do I offer up my faith with my voice, for prayer and petition can both be conceived in the mind and brought to birth in silence, without using the voice.

If the womb holds back the child, then both mother and child will die; may my mouth, Lord, not hold back my faith with the result that the one perish and the other be quenched, the two of them perishing, each because of the other.

The tree that holds back its buds withers up and the birth of the green bud miscarries; but if fruit buds appear from the womb of the tree full of sap, then let my faith rejoice!

The seed, swollen with moisture, bursts asunder its covering of soil and out peers the blade of wheat, full of symbols. So faith, whose bosom is filled with goodly fruits, is a blade bearing praise.

Fish are both conceived and born in the sea; if they dive deep, they escape those who would catch them. In luminous silence within the mind let prayer recollect itself, so as not to stray.

[. . .]

Jonah prayed a prayer that had no sound (Jon. 2): the herald was put to silence in the fish’s belly; out of the dumb creature did his prayer creep forth, and God on high heard, for his silence served as a cry.

In a single body are both Prayer and Faith to be found, the one hidden, the other revealed; the one for the Hidden One, the other to be seen. Hidden prayer is for the hidden ear of God, while faith is for the visible ear of humanity.

Our prayer has become like a hidden taste within our body, but let it richly give forth the fragrance of our faith: fragrance acts as a herald for the taste in the case of that person who has acquired the furnace which tests all scents.

—St Ephraim the Syrian, Hymns on Faith

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