Aphraim the Syrian The Saint
A unique sample of men of God. The Syrians call him "A guitar of the Holy Spirit". He had submitted for church unlimited spiritual songs. They expressed the purity of the Orthodox faith with the spirit of worship, the passion of love flowering with sweet style. His life as a whole was as a wonderful symphony playing to us a firm sticking to the Orthodox Faith. He focussed on serving the poor. His whole life was packed in the faith and the Church's teachings with great humility!
He was born about 306 AD in the city of Nisibis, one of the Mesopotamia (Almisa). His parents were Christians, He said "I was born in the way of Truth, though in my youth I did not realize the greatness of the Truth, but I came to knew by experience".
He said: "My parents were confessors before the judge, yes I am a relative of the Martyrs."
He remained close to Saint James, Bishop of Nisibis, and it was said that he accompanied him to the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. After the death of St. Jacob, St. Ephraim stayed glued to his successors the chair bishops, perhaps as the head of the School of that was affiliated to the chair.
The first trial:
The signs of pregnancy showed on a virgin daughter of one of the heads of the city. When she was questioned about who committed this evil with her, she pointed out to St. Ephrem, who did not object to it, but in humility before the bishop he said: "O my father I had sinned". This was very confusing to the congregation. When he took the baby to raise him up , many were quite perplexed because of this. He was forced to asked permission from Bishop after Sunday Mass to face the congregation. Carrying the baby with his right hand toward the altar, he shouted addressing everyone: "Dear child, I appeal to the altar of God, tell me right now: Who is your father." The baby replied: "Ephraim Sexton (the one in charge of the lighting of Church lamps). All the people wept and asked for his forgivness.
The spirit of the child departed at that time!
Leaving the Persian siege of Nisibis:
The Persians had contemporary of the city of Nisibis three times during the period 238-350. Finally it was delivered to them, under the peace treaty between Sabor the king of the Persians and the Juffinean. This forced all Christians to leave, including St Ephraim. He moved to Edessa. When he approached the city he met an adulteress woman, he looked at her to find her staring at him deeply. He said to her: "O woman, do not you get shy to look at a man like this?" She replied "Woman had been taken from man so she is entitled to look deeply at her origin, while man was taken from the soil, so he must look at his origin from which he was taken." Then he said to himself "If the women of this city, are so wise, how about the wisdom of men?"
His life in Edessa:
It was said he worked in the work simple, and spent the rest of his time in preaching to the Gentiles and teach them the Scriptures, where the majority of the population were pagans. The devil moved a woman who lived next to him to an evil thought. She asked him if he needed anything. He replied: "I am in need of some bricks and some mud to block the window that is between you and me." The woman was frustrated because of his hard reply. She threatened him that she would accuse him of committing evil with her if he did not fall to her. He pretended to demonstrate his consent, but only if they commit the evil in the city market. She asked him: "How do we do this and the people around us?" He replied: "If you are ashamed of people, are you not ashamed from God, who in his eyes penetrate the cover of darkness?” The woman had been deeply affected. She told him that she repented at his hands, and joined one of the monasteries. Shortly after that St Aphraim lived in a cave in the rocky hill is now known as Nemrut Dag, where he worked on worship with Bible study. It was said that a medent named Aphaim was standing outside his cave in the mountain and saw an angel coming down from heaven with a large scroll written on it from both sides, surrounded by other angels, and heard him say: "Who is this that I give my hand?". The angels replied: "To O'Kane believer from the desert of Egypt ". Then he returned and asked: "Who deserves?" They replied: "Ulians believer." Then he told them: "No one between human beings of this time deserves this except only Aphraim of Mount Edessa," He questioned this first, but when he visited St. Aphraim the Syrian in his cave he found him writing an interpretation of Genesis. When he read what St. Aphraim wrote, he was surprised because of the talent given to him. He took the interpretation and rushed to the school of Edessa, and presented it to the scientists who had admired it. They started to honor him. He told them about the author.
His starting work:
They hastened to St. Aphraim to bring him. Whereas he felt that, he escaped to a valley. An angel of the Lord appeared to him and forced him not escape from work.He subjected and went down to the city. He slept in one of the towers Wall of Edessa. In the morning, as he saw some of the believers who felt furious because he fled when they went to him and now he came on his own. They thought that he was double faced and even accused him some crazy behaviors. Where as he did not shrug off by the praise or the slander. But he kept going to the market where he preached many. He was serious in his preaching and his faith in the integrity. This caused some heads of the city and the heretics, Jews and Gentiles to revolt against him. They beat him until he was forced to flee to his cave and to devote his time to writing against heresies, and turned the cave in the mountain to a school with many students.
In the Eskeet of Egypt ( El Natroun Valley):
In the Eskeet St. Ephraim saw St. Basil the Great as if like a pillar of fire coming down from heaven, He longed to meet him, and taking with him a translator he traveled to Egypt and there he was strongly attracted by the spiritual atmosphere of the Eskeet. He remained there for about eight years. Still the tree named after him stands in El Sorian Monastery. As it was because of his excess pilgrimage he used to lean on a sticks some credited that he tried to imitate the elders boasting. He planted his stick in the ground, and on the spot it had grown and bloomed.
His confluence with St. Basil:
He went to Caesarea in about 371 AD, and attended the Theophany’s Holy Liturgy with his clothes tattered. As he saw the view of St. Basil,from afar, he fell in his heart because of the excellency of his clothes and this casted doubt on this matter. But at the cessation of Saint’s preach he viewed tongues of fire heading to the hearts of his hearers, as if the dove was rushing out of his mouth. This changed his idea in the case on the spot. St. Basil viewed St Avraim the monk, as if the angels were surrounding him. He summoned him directly after the sermon. But St. Avraim sought to have the meeting after the communion, and the two already met with the brotherly kiss. Then St. Basil said separately to him: “why did you doubt?; Showing him that he is wearing a tattered clothes from the inside, saying to him: "But these clothes are luxury just for the dignity of service only." The visit of St Avraim lasted for two weeks,. Saint Basil had tried to ordain him as a priest, but hardly he accepted to be ordained as a deacon. The personality and the teachings of St Avraim touched a lot St. Basil, as he stated in his writings.
His return to Edessa:
He returned to Edessa and strongly resisted the heresies. Having seen one of them that had authored 150 hymn sing which bear false beliefs and were sung by the people. He also authored 150 hymn with the same tunes but with faith in the integrity and freshness of style and strength. These became in the first place songs. As the atmosphere of the heresies calmed down, he returned to his cave. A great famine swept the city in the winter of 372 / 373 AD. He came down to the city urging the rich to give those who were in need. The rich gave him the authority to act. He established a home of 300 beds for patients because of famine. He himself served the needy helped by his aides. He did not return to his cave until the famine is over.
On the ninth of the month of June (June) in 373 AD he delivered up his soul after having made this commandment as a poetry. "I do not bury me under the altar of God, because it is not worthy to be carcass rotting in this holy place. Do not put my body with the martyrs, because I am a sinner, and do not deserve, I'm afraid to approach their bones. Do not perfume my body. I am not worthy of incense and spices, but offer the incense in the holy places. As for me I need the support of your prayers. Instead of the perfumes and spices remember me in your supplication. I made a covenant with the Lord to bury with strangers because I am weird as they were. Brethren put me with them, because each bird loves its kind and men love likeness. Put me in the cemetery where with my broken heart, so when the Son of God comes, He receive me and enables me to stand close to Him ".
Our church celebrates his memorial day on the fifteenth of Abib
His literary revolution:
He richly contributed to the Christian library with his poetry and writings which is not less than three million lines. His writings included an explanation of all the books of the Holy Bible of all, as well as themes about the religious controversy, and some articles and letters with the discourses and hymns. Some of them were lost.
He sometimes pretended to be crazy and ran away from the Episcopal when Saint Basil tried to ordain him as a bishop on one of the regions. His tears were never dry. Even St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa considered it as a natural phenomenon as a human does not stop breathing during his life.His great love for the poor, his compassion and spiritual fullness gave his character a strange attraction, even that St. Gregory of Nazianzus, said” “ He is like the angels who are without a material body, and without any worry in their lives!”
Publications of El Sorain Monastery: Christmas conversation, a study in 1961.
Butler `s Lives, of Saints, Jun 18
May the Blessings of his prayers Be with all of us AMEN
|Arabic biography source of: Aphraim the Syrian The Saint|
|Translated by: Maged (servant of the LORD)||
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