Reflection on a Saying of a Desert Christian: St. Ephraim the Syrian

“My brother, be always calm and look after yourself. Do not let your soul be influenced by any person’s standing, whether he is of low social status, or of great status, or even of the ruling class. No one among men can ransom you from the inextinguishable fire of hell. Notice what the Holy Spirit of God says: ‘Of what benefit is it to a man, if he gains the whole world, yet suffers the loss of his soul?’

“So, do not lose the glory of God by reason of the temporary glory and honor of men, through eating, drinking, or through any other material thing whatever. All of these things perish and are destroyed. Deeds, however, every one of them, both good and evil, are recorded, and they remain everlasting.

“My brother, turn your mind toward heavenly things and reflect on them, and not on earthly goods, which are temporal, that you might attain all that the heavenly Father has promised to his children, and enjoy the glory which is enjoyed by all those who have pleased God, that is, the Saints” (Saint Ephraim).

How often I need to hear this words. To be reminded of what is truly important. There are those who are seduced by the cult of personality who slavishly follow the doings of so-called celebrities. I know USians who slavishly follow the doings of the Royal Family of the UK which bemuses me because, after all, we fought a revolution to escape their clutches. The point is that we sometimes rate other human beings higher than god and that is just wrong.
Something that I try to do with these reflections is to help us all turn ourselves toward heavenly things so we may reflect upon them and turn our lives toward holiness as our primary occupation in our daily lives. Writing these reflections forces me to engage with a Saying every day, holding it up as a mirror in which to view my life, my choices, my priorities.

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