“On Reproof,” A Poem By St. Ephrem of Syria, Deacon, and Doctor of the Church

I came upon these lines while researching St. Ephrem the Syrian, the Deacon, and Doctor of the Church, whose feast day is today.

As it turns out, St. Ephrem wrote almost all of his homilies in verse or as hymns that could be sung to the same tunes that the Arians were singing at the time. What follows are words of wisdom he offers for us to consider as we journey along The Way.

On Reproof by St. Ephrem the Syrian

Let us be builders of our own minds
into temples suitable for God.

If the Lord dwells in your house,
honor will come to your door.

How much your ‘honor’ will increase
if God dwells within you.

Be a sanctuary for him, even a priest,
and serve him within your temple.

Just as for your sake he became
High priest, sacrifice, and libation;

you, for his sake, become
temple, priest, and sacrificial offering.

Since your mind will become a temple,
do not leave any filth in it;

do not leave in God’s house
anything hateful to God.

Let us be adorned as God’s house,
with what is attractive to God.

If anger is there,
lewdness abides there too;

if rage is there,
fumes will rise up from there.

Expel grudges from there,
and jealousy, whose reek is abhorrent.

Bring in and install love there,
as a censer full of fragrant incense.

Gather up and take the dung out,
odious liaisons and bad habits.

Strew good fellowship around it,
like blossoms and flowers.

But instead of roses and lilies,
decorate it with prayers.

Want more? St. Ephren wrote approximately 1,000 poems like this. He’s a doctor worth dusting off, and getting to know.


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