Daily Thought For June 9, 2020

Saint of the Day - St. Ephrem, the Deacon

St. Ephrem is said to have been born of a Christian mother and pagan father in Nisibis, Mesopotamia (modern Nusaybin, Turkey), in about 306. He was baptized a Christian when he was a young man of eighteen and became a teacher in his native city. After the cession of Nisibis to Persia in 363, he moved to Edessa, Greece, where he continued to teach. He remained a deacon all his life, and to escape episcopal consecration he is supposed to have feigned madness. His writings, written in Syriac, include biblical exegesis and dogmatic treatises, as well as ascetical works. The Syrian Church refers to him as the Harp of the Holy Spirit, not only because of his many hymns, which are still sung in the Syrian liturgy, but also because many of his other works were written in verse. Ephrem had singular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and in his writings he so emphasized her perfect sinlessness that he is now numbered among the earliest Fathers of the Church to teach Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Ephrem died in Edessa on June 9, 373, and in 1920 Pope Benedict XV gave him the title of doctor of the Church—the only Syrian Father to be so honored. The opening prayer of the Mass today hints at St. Ephrem’s poetical talent when it says that the Holy Spirit inspired the deacon Ephrem to sing the praise of God’s mysteries.

Tylenda, J. N. (2003). Saints and Feasts of the Liturgical Year (pp. 101–102). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

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