Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Met Ephrem (Kyriakos): Your Face, O Lord, I Seek

Arabic original here.

"Your Face, O Lord, I Seek" (Psalm 26/27:8)

What is prayer but a constant encounter with God?

What is fasting but disposing with everything that doesn't pertain to God and what is repentance but a return to God, His love and His commandments?

The priest says to the child after his being baptized and receiving chrismation, "You have been justified, you have been sanctified... You have been baptized, you have been illumined, you have been chrismated, you have been washed in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit."

Despite all this, one goes back to sinning and dies, knowing that God has put an end to sin and death by His being crucified, His death and His resurrection and He has raised us up with Him in baptism from sin and from death (cf. Romans 6:4 and Colossians 3:12).

The fact is that the Lord Jesus, by the abundance of His mercy and His exceeding love, through the mystery of holy baptism, sowed His salvific grace in the depths of our souls.

Saint Diodochus of Photice says in his book On Spiritual Knowledge:

"From the moment of our renewal in baptism, grace is hidden in the depths of the heart and the devil goes out..."

This salvific grace is implanted in the depths of a person since his baptism as a potential energy, relying on the faith of his godparents and family. This capacity awaits the person's free will as a first step for it to be transformed into active energy.

This is what Saint John Chrysostom says. It is the work of constant repentance in a person's life through the practice of prayer, fasting, confession and works of charity... then one has a foretaste of the joy of the resurrection and the kingdom that is to come.

Saint Basil adds in his discussion of the work of divine grace in man, when he talks about the mystical activity of the Eucharist after receiving holy communion and after a person repents of his sins and longs for God:

"Divine grace permeates all the members and ligaments of the body to the outermost senses, so the mind becomes Christ's mind, sight becomes Christ's sight, hearing becomes Christ's hearing..."

Thus one is renewed in his entirety in the image and likeness of God. This transformation is constant for one who believes, struggles, prays constantly and truly repents constantly until death. Then the monastic saying, that is true of all who repent, is fulfilled: "He who dies before dying will not die when he dies."

The believing, struggling Christian lives his whole life long in the constant presence of God.

He sticks to the Lord Jesus Christ and repeats, his whole life long, this constant prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner," until, when he departs this earthly life, he beholds the face of God as radiant, salvific light. Amen.

Metropolitan of Tripoli, al-Koura and their Dependencies

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