Saint Ephraim Syrian

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Are you ever humbled by God? I know I am on a daily basis. One comical memory that sticks out from my high school years is getting up in the morning for daily Mass, taking time to dress up extra nice in case the guy I had a crush on happened to be there. I stood in front of my bathroom mirror and thought, “Gosh, even my hair is cooperating today, I look good!”

However, during the brief run from my car into the chapel, the heavens opened up and it rained so violently that I walked in looking like a drowned rat. Oh, and naturally my crush was there to see it all.

All right, God, I got the idea.

Humility is such an important virtue that sometimes I even don’t quite grasp what it really means in our day to day lives. A close friend of mine coined this brief definition of humility that has helped me a lot: “God is God and I am not.”

Let me introduce you to one of our many heavenly friends who really understood and lived out this virtue in a little way: with the power of his pen.

St. Ephraim was a Christian in the early Church in Mesopotamia, born in a time and place that was riddled with persecution and heresy. He was ordained a deacon and spent a good portion of his life as a hermit, which is the life he preferred, simple and prayerful.

So, how is a man of no great education declared a Doctor of the Church (the only Syriac Christian to be recognized with this honor!)? You may have guessed the answer already: by his humility.

He trusted God, not himself. When heresies arose, he wrote hymns refuting them (often using the same popular melodies heretics used and remixing the lyrics). When a famine came to his land, he left his solitary life to feed and nurse the suffering. With his simple nature he was able to speak on our human nature in a realistic way.

Every step of his life, he recognized who he was and who God is and that everything he did was God’s work, not his own.

sissel anderson

Every step of his life, he recognized who he was and who God is and that everything he did was God’s work, not his own.

Now, you may not be called to write epic rebuttals of heresies, but we are all called each day to humbly accept the road God placed before us and to take steps towards Him.

This next week in everything you do, invite God into all decisions you make, big and small. Even something as simple as what to have for breakfast. You’ll start living your life a lot differently and a lot more like our friends St. Ephraim and St. Thérèse.

Let me leave you with a verse on humility from one of St. Ephraim’s writings:

“There is no measure (or, limit) to the beauty of the man who is humble. No passion whatsoever shall be able to draw nigh unto the man who is humble, and there is no measure to his beauty. The humble man is a sacrifice of God. With him that is humble the hearts of God and His angels rest.”

Sissel Anderson is a 25-year-old convert in North Texas. Just a year and a half after coming home to the Catholic Church, she dove headfirst into Catholic media by interning at the local Catholic Radio station during college, operated by the Guadalupe Radio Network. Six years later, she is now the North Texas Assistant at the network and produces and hosts local programs, including one for young people (or the young at heart!) for which she has a desire to reach out to more.

A collector of hobbies and volunteer positions, she is never without something to do whether it be helping lead her parish’s young adult group to mastering the perfect Old Fashion. While she has ideas and dreams for the future, she enjoys taking each day at a time to see where God is calling her at that moment.

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