A Reflection of a Saying of a Desert Christian: Saint Ephraim

“My brother, if your soul were pure and upright before the Lord, you would be able to profit from all things of this life. If you were to see a wandering peddler, you would say to yourself: ‘my soul, from the desire to earn fleeting, earthly goods, the peddler toils a great deal and endures much, concentrating on things which will not ultimately remain under his domain. Why, then, do you not look after those things which are eternal and incorruptible?’

“Once again, if you were to see those who dispute in court over financial matters, you would say: ‘My soul, these people, often having not a single need, show such ardor and quarrel with such shouting between themselves. You, who owe to God a myriad of talents, why do you not implore God, bowing down as one should, to obtain cancellation of that debt?’

“If you were to see a builder making houses, you would again say: ‘my soul, these same, even if they build houses from mud, show such great zeal to finish the work they have laid out. You, why are you indifferent to eternal structures and why do you not struggle to erect the abode of God within the soul, forming and joining the virtues by the will?’

“Now, in order not to be prolix in citing various circumstances one by one, let us say that we must take care to transform our worldly thoughts and observations, which are born of our material perspective on things of the present life, to spiritual ones. Thereby, we shall profit from all things with the help and assistance of Divine Grace” (Saint Ephraim).”

St. Ephraim, it seems to me, has been observing those who work hard to attain those things which are, in the long run, ephemeral. He says we could pray over each circumstance that is presented to us, but instead of being wordy like that, let us seek a transformation of our minds so that our concentration is on that which endures, that which lasts.

Granted, we go through life and we all need food, shelter, clothing, and for some people the pursuit of these items plus a lot of things we really don’t need becomes the reason for living.

Have we ever considered giving up all luxuries, giving up everything except what we actually need, figuring out how much money we need for these basic requirements and then giving the remainder to those who don’t have enough for their basic needs?


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