Hymn XI. Paradise can only be described in terrestrial terms, but it is essential to realize that these terms are purely metaphorical; to understand them in a literal. The most in-depth and scholarly panorama of Western spirituality ever attempted! In one series, the original writings of the universally acknowledged teachers of. Hymn 1. This is the day that gladdened them, the Prophets, Kings, and Priests, for in it were their words fulfilled, and thus were the whole of them indeed.
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Paradise can only be described in terrestrial terms, but it is essential to realize that these terms are purely metaphorical; to understand them in a literal sense is to abuse God’s great condescension in revealing to us, through Scripture, something of Paradise’s beauty and wonders. Yet, although Paradise belongs to a sphrem mode of existence, outside time and space, it is still able to serve as a direct source of well-being for life on earth, a fact that the Genesis narrative expresses by means of the imagery of the fountain which issues forth from Paradise and divides itself up into the four great rivers of the world.
Nowhere on earth was the fragrant breath of Paradise more evident than in the Upper Chamber where the Ephreem were assembled at Pentecost. Blessed is He who exalted Adam and caused him to return to Paradise.
Paradise can be compared to the wind: The Tree of Knowledge – awareness of truth and of spiritual reality – is the gate to Paradise, through which the mind can enter. But the Tree of Knowledge has to be approached in the right spirit and in obedience to God; otherwise, it will lead to destruction and loss, as both Adam and Uzziah discovered.
Furthermore, once led astray by eating the fruit of the Tree in disobedience, man goes on to blame the fruit, rather than his greed for the consequences of his grasping. So strong indeed was the serpent’s poison that it enabled Satan to turn aside the verb is sta in Syriac, providing a word play the whole of humanity-when we should be listening instead to another representative of the animal world, tye ass hyymns brief words to Balaam saved its master from destruction. Blessed is He who came and invited both worlds to His Paradise.
Now therefore this Ephraim, who was one of those who had been held to be worthy of mention by the saints, traveled along the spiritual road nobly and straightly, turning neither to one side nor the other of the straight path; and he was held to be worthy of the gift of the knowledge which he possessed naturally, and subsequently he received the knowledge which enabled him to utter divine things, and perfect blessedness.
Thus he lived throughout the period of a certain number of years a life of chastity, and stern asceticism, and contemplation, and he edified all those who thronged to visit him, each according to his peculiar epnrem and finally he compelled himself to go forth from his cell for the following reason, namely, a mighty hymbs lay over the city of Edessa. And it came to pass that, when that year of famine had been fulfilled, and there arrived after it a year of abundance, and every man departed to his house, inasmuch as he had nothing else to do shrian went into his cell; and ephrsm a period of one month he brought his life to a close, God havind given him the opportunity whereby he might be crowned at the end of his life.
Now he left behind him many books, and writings of various kinds, which were worthy of being preserved with the greatest care. American foundation for syriac studies. Hymn XI Paradise can only be described in terrestrial terms, but it is essential to ephrdm that these terms are purely metaphorical; to understand them in a literal sense is to abuse God’s great condescension in revealing to us, through Scripture, something of Paradise’s beauty and wonders.
The air of Paradise is a fountain of delight from which Adam sucked when he was young; its very breath, like a mother’s breast, gave him nourishment in his childhood. He was young, fair, and full of joy, but when he spurned the injunction he grew old, sad and decrepit; he bore old age as a burden of woes.
Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns – Saint Ephraem (Syrus) – Google Books
No harmful frost, no scorching heat is to be found in that blessed place of delight; it is a harbor of joys, a haven of pleasures; light and rejoicing have their home there; gathered there are to be found harps and lyres, with shouts of Hosanna, and the Church crying “Alleluia.
The fence which surrounds it is the peace which gives peace to all; its inner and outer walls are the concord which reconciles all things; the cherub who encircles it is radiant to those who are within but full of menace to those outside who have been cast out.
All that you hear told about this Paradise, so pure and holy, is pure and spiritual. Let not this description of it be judged by one who hears it, for descriptions of it are not at all subject to judgment, since, even though it may appear terrestrial because of the terms used, it is in its reality spiritual and pure.
Even though the name of “spirit” is applied to two kinds of beings, yet the unclean spirit is quite separate from the one that is sanctified. For him who would tell of it there is no other means but to use the names of things that are visible, thus depicting for his hearers a likeness of things that are hidden. For if the Creator of the Garden has clothed His majesty in terms that we can understand, how much more can His Garden be described with our similes?
If someone concentrates his attention solely on the metaphors used of God’s majesty, he abuses and misrepresents that majesty and thus errs by means of those metaphors with which God clothed Himself for his benefit, and he is ungrateful to that Grace which stooped low to the level of his childishness; although it has nothing in common with him, yet Grace clothed itself in his likeness in order to bring him to the likeness of itself.
Do not let your intellect be disturbed by mere names, for Paradise has simply clothed itself in terms that are akin to ehprem it is not because it is impoverished ghe it has put on your imagery; rather, your nature is far too weak to be able to attain to its greatness, and its beauties are much diminished by being depicted in the pale colors with which you are familiar.
For feeble eyes cannot gaze upon the dazzling sight of its celestial beauties; it has clothed its trees with the names of the trees we know; its figs are called by the same name as our figs, its leaves, which are spiritual, have taken on bodily form; they have been changed so that their vesture may resemble ours. More numerous and glorious than the stars in the sky that we behold are the blossoms of that land, and the fragrance which exhales from it syfian divine Grace is like a physician sent to heal the ills of a land that is under a curse; by its healing breath it cures the sickness that entered in through the serpent.
The breath hgmns wafts from some blessed comer of Eprem gives sweetness to the bitterness of this region, it tempers the curse on this earth of ours. That Garden is the life-breath of this diseased world that has been so long in sickness; that breath proclaims that a saving remedy has been sent to heal our mortality.
St. Ephrem – A Theologian of Hymns | The Christian Review
What need was there that from that land a river should flow forth and divide itself, except that hymn blessing of Paradise syrjan be mingled by means of water as it issues forth to irrigate the world, hyns clean its fountains that had become polluted by curses -just as that “sickly water” had been made wholesome by the salt.
Thus it is with another spring, full of perfumes, which issues from Eden and penetrates into the atmosphere as a beneficial breeze by which our souls are stirred; our inhalation is healed by this healing breath from Paradise; springs receive a blessing from that blessed spring which issues forth from there.
Avastcenser exhaling fragrance impregnates the air with its odoriferous smoke, imparting to all who are elhrem it a whiff from which to benefit.
How much the more so with Paradise the glorious: When the thf Apostles were gathered together the place shook and the scent of Paradise, having recognized its home, poured forth its perfumes, delighting the heralds by whom the guests are instructed and come to His hyms eagerly He awaits their arrival for He is the Lover of mankind. Make me worthy through Your grace to attain to Paradise’s gift -this treasure of perfumes, this storehouse of scents.
My hunger takes delight in the breath of its fragrance, for its scent gives nourishment to all at all times, and whoever inhales it is overjoyed and forgets his earthly bread; this is the table of the Kingdom- blessed is He who prepared it in Eden.
Ephrem the Syrian Paradise can be compared to the wind: My brethren, consider the wind: So too ephrm abode of Paradise is both hidden and manifest: The tree that is called the Tree of Knowledge symbolizes the gate of Paradise: Consider this knowledge which is the gateway to all things: Through this gate of knowledge the intellect enters in, explores every kind of treasure, brings out every kind of riches.
St. Ephrem – A Theologian of Hymns
Even when the army surrounded Elisha a voice proved the key to the eyes of the shepherd. When the disciple’s eyes were held closed, bread too was the key whereby their eyes were opened to recognize the Omniscient: So likewise that Wood, which is the Tree of Knowledge, can, with its fruit, roll back the cloud of ignorance, so that eyes can recognize the beauty of that Tabernacle hidden within; but because Adam and Eve ate it in sin, the vision that should have caused joy of heart resulted in grief of heart.
Intelligence is like a treasurer who carries on his shoulder the keys to learning, fitting a key to each locked door, opening with ease even the most difficult- skilled in what is manifest, well instructed in what is hidden, training souls and enriching creation.
The precious stones of the ephod worn by the priest in accord with the commandment he called “luminous” and “perfect,” as well as “knowledge” and “truth. Accompanied by the knowledge which was hidden in the ephod the priest entered the sanctuary, a type for Paradise, and he tasted of the Tree through the symbol of the revelation given him.
But if anyone entered contrary to the commandment, they died, as a type of Adam who died for taking the fruit prematurely.
The priest put on sanctification, but Adam was stripped of glory. The intellect cannot explore the bosom of those trees without that fruit, nor can the priest investigate that treasury of revelations without the ephod.
Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns
Two people did the evil one beguile and captivate with his blandishments- promising to make Adam into a god and Uzziah into a priest, whereas in reality he stripped the one of his glory and clothed the other in leprosy.
To the former he forbade the fruit, to the latter the censer. Both however grasped at something they were not given: It is easy to understand how mankind has come to hate creation: Since it was through the fair fruit that Adam became odious he has made that fruit an object of hate, considering it to be harmful.
It is obvious that the censer of the inner sanctuary is good, but the Tree in Paradise has come to be considered as poisonous. If the hymnz is glorious, then the fruit is even more so; through the censer, pure and glorious, the evil one made royalty leprous, and likewise in Paradise the cunning one slew the young couple with the excellent fruit.
Of the serpent which spoke for a moment God provided an illustration in the speech of the ass which spoke for a moment to rebuke the audacious Balaam. So too the serpent spoke in order to syrizn the ears of Adam and Eve: The serpent served as a garment for the evil one to put on: In their simplicity they listened to his words eagerly, for he made a show of his care, but hid well his guile.
On another occasion the Iscariot can instruct you in the devil’s types. How strong is his poison, upsetting the whole world.
Who can hold back the sea of that bitter one? Everyone contains drops of it that can harm you. Judas was the treasurer7 sytian his poison, and although Satan’s form syyrian hidden, in Judas he is totally visible; though Satan’s history is a long one, it is summed up in the Iscariot.
Let the ass put the serpent to shame with its brief words: The serpent too turned aside, and caused us to go aside to our destruction; it made crooked our thoughts, and so God made crooked its path; the course it travels indicates how it turned awry our road. Syria this, and similar things that I have read in the Scriptures, have helped depict in my mind that Garden of Life; blessed is the person who is worthy to attain its enjoyment.
May the Merciful One bring me to its fruits, may their taste give me life, or their scent strike me, or their radiance reach me, or their dew bathe me!