Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Mar Ephrem's hymns on Virginity I-11

I. PUT off, O Body, that Old Man which is altogether hateful, that it may not wear out the newness that thou inhabitest and hast put on ; for the recompense of its interest is contrary with its clothes, in that if thou hast been renewed it will return and wear thee out : O Body, hear my counsels ! Put it off by (good) conduct, that it may not clothe thee in (bad) habits.

II. For, lo, our Lord has made thee, O Body, new in water, and the Architect of Life has built thy oldness, in that He formed with His Blood and built for it a shrine for His habitation ; do [P. 171.] not let dwell instead of Him that Old Man in the shrine He has renewed : O Body, if thou dost make God to stay in thy shrine, thou also wilt be a temple of His kingdom and a priest of His sacrifice.

III. For this Old Man is reproved by Nature that teaches and the Book that proclaims, for its wickedness is between two just things, that if it sins in respect of what is without law, its Nature will reprove it, and if it sins in respect of law, the Book will reprove it. Lo, it wounds and they heal; on the track of wickedness they bring in regret, whereby he that sins is healed.

IV. Him that rebels they treat with contempt, and him that returns they bind up his wounds; they justify the Judge, they reprove the rebels, they care for and heal those who return : for they know that they will be measured with one Evil one, who hurts everything, who is fresh in every generation, and is a companion to every one, and hurts every hour ; they also are companions to every one, and are fresh in every generation, and are found at every hour.

V. Hearken to Nature and Law declaring his evil corruptions ! For the People (of Israel) who committed adultery under the Law, [P. 172.] and the Peoples who fornicated without Law, changed their Nature and behaved contrary to their Nature ; Nature and Law have appealed against him, whose dispositions the Disturber has corrupted.

VI. The humble ones have stolen away from marriage under pretext of discipleship, and when they are halfway he (the 'Old Man') has set behind them the shame of stumbling and in front of them hateful desire ; being ashamed to revert to marriage, they fall and are taken in the snares.

VII. How light are thy wings, O Virginity, that soar and go up to where thy Bridegroom sits at the right hand of the Lord of the Heights ! Flee from the counsel of the deceiver, for he who apportions debt to the inexperienced is wont to cast his whole property for nothing to the loss of the merchants (?).

VIII. He impoverished the treasures of great Adam, who with his money acquired a weight of debt. O Body, do not borrow from him that does not ask back what he has lent, that if thou pay him his silver the debt impoverishes.

IX. For accompanying its desires are apprehension and [P. 173.] doubt and contempt with disgrace, and they reject and give pain to the doers of them, and the faces only are open and pure of the chaste ones who have put it (? the 'old man') off ; do not be joined, O Body, with hateful love, of which however much the deed is dead, the anxiety of it lives secretly.

X. Subtle and cunning is his (the 'Old Man's') discipleship, in that by all sorts (of means) he will be bestowing his gifts upon the good. The mouth of the poor he stops with his bread ; with his free meals he sells free-men into slavery. The belly he has bribed and it has been corrupted ; (he has bribed) the eye to overlook, and the mouth to keep silence, and the ear to make his hateful reports. His silent wine is talkative in those that drink it; it babbles in their voices instead of its master.

XI. For he is cunning, in that first he puts on the mouth of his. snare food as a bait; his love goes in front of his corruption, like Judas, who kissed and killed. The Pure One kissed the unclean, to teach that his kisses are a poison and death is moulded by them secretly ; this is one who if thou raise him up will recompense thee with a fall, who when he rises lulls to sleep, the desire of whom is deadly. And thy own flesh makes it live and resurrects it (this desire), and when it is alive therein it turns and kills it. O Body, if thou give life to deadness, there will be death also for thy life.


ܡܪܝ ܐܦܪܝܡ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ Mar Ephrem the Sryian

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